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Have you ever had a time period in your life where you were either a) so busy you didn’t have time to cook or b) so tired and lazy that you didn’t want to cook? I have personally gone through this more than once and sometimes at the same time.
We all know how good it feels to just place an order for delivery and lounge on the sofa to eat food. The food is most of the time good, and the added benefit of not needing to clean up afterwards is a great bonus.
We also know how much it affects our bank account and how unhealthy it is to eat take out regularly. Sometimes it’s worth it just to have the peace of mind that you don’t need to do anything for dinner.
After one particularly busy time period I realized we had eaten take out of some sort nearly 10 times in one month. My jeans were fitting tighter, I wasn’t feeling well, and my bank account was not happy with me.
I decided it was time to challenge myself to cook and eat dinner at home for 30 days. As a reward on the 31st day we would treat ourselves and eat out.
We basically have to live off of quick and easy meals or take out. So when I went searching for a bunch of quick and easy meals I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of options.
When people think about quick and easy meals it often means loads of pasta dishes. You and I both know that while pasta is delicious it’s not the healthiest for dinner every night of the week. That’s not the case with these quick and easy dinners. There are some pasta but there are plenty of other options that you won’t feel stuck eating the same type of food.
What Makes A Quick And Easy Meal
For me it has to include loads of veggies, maybe a little meat, be cooked in one pan, and basically be a dump and cook. It also needs to be jam packed with flavor.
I absolutely hate standing over a cook top for 45 minutes watching food cook. I prefer to set it and forget it. This is part of the reason why I love my Instant Pot and Crock Pot meals. You can check those out for more quick and easy ideas in the links below.
Other favorites are dump and bake recipes. This is where you load up a casserole dish or sheet pan with your ingredients and pop it into the oven for a quick bake.
I do this a lot with my chicken recipes. Simply prepare and season chicken strips and place them on a sheet pan. Add any fresh veggies you want. I usually do chopped potatoes and green beans seasoned, or green peppers and onions. If I do the green peppers and onions I either season for fajitas or I’ll make some rice in the Instant Pot.
As long as my prep time is less than 10 minutes I consider it a quick and easy meal, even if it takes 30-60 minutes for it to cook.
How To Meal Plan For Quick And Easy Meals
I keep a list of family favorite meals that are quick and easy in my bullet journal. These meals are my go to’s when building my weekly or bi-weekly grocery shopping lists. However, as with anything, if you eat something too much you may get sick and tired of the same old same old meals. I have a simple trick for avoiding that.
Twice a week schedule on your least busiest nights to try a new meal. The first time you cook any meal by recipe it’s going to take a little longer to make. This is because you may often go back and check the instructions to make sure you are doing it right.
Then you can decide if the meal is a winner and something you want to add to your rotation of dinners. Add a time to make next to the meal so you can make sure you are picking meals that are super easy for busier weeks. This keeps dinner fresh with new options often.
Then when you go to create your meal plan all you have to do is check your local grocery store for whats on sale, check your family favorite meals, and fill in the ingredients as you need them.
Super Quick Dinner Ideas
Quick and easy dinners are a great way to ensure that we eat at home. When I’m exhausted or busy 10 minutes of prep work doesn’t feel as bad as 30 minutes standing over the stove stirring a pot.
I also like to cook more than what we will actually eat at dinner for the sole purpose of having left overs. Left overs mean you have super easy lunches to go for work the next day.
I’ve put together a list of all 30 meals including one of our favorite quick and easy dinners. Make sure you pin this post or bookmark it so you can come back and browse the recipes whenever you need a new quick and easy dinner to make.
Check out my post 20 Delicious Slow Cooker Dinners.
30 Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas
1. Easy Beef Burrito
If you are looking for a quick meal that only uses one pan this is a fantastic choice. Want to make it even easier? Cut the tortilla strips using scissors or a pizza cutter.
2. Easy Tortellini Bake
Tortellini is a fantastic easy meal to make just on it’s own. This tortellini bake makes it even easier. You can even prepare it ahead of time and store in your fridge before baking. Just make sure you add a few more minutes into your bake time if you do this.
3. Orange Chicken
Something I do to save on prep time is cutting up my chicken breasts into chunks before freezing. This saves on time when preparing caseroles or dishes like this one.
4. Easy Philly Cheesesteak
This is a great meal for hot summer days when you don’t want to spend loads of time in your kitchen. Trim and slice your meat when you first get it before freezing or refridgerating. This cuts down your prep time day of cooking.
5. Buffalo Chicken Alfredo Bake
This dish is a great day of grocery shopping recipe. Especially if you can pick up a rotisserie chicken on a deal or for free with purchase of something else. Make sure you check your sales papers or your grocery stores website for the deal.
6. One Pan Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Rice
This is one of my families favorite comfort food dishes. It’s great for days when you just want something warm, filling, and cheesy.
7. Walking Tacos
Kids love walking tacos because they are fun. You will love them because they are easy. I prefer mine with Fritos but my husband prefers them with Doritos. You can even try them with regular tortilla chips too.
Related Post: Crock Pot Pork Carnita Tacos
8. Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells
Consider using a rotisserie chicken or left over grilled chicken breasts in this dish. It’ll make prep so much easier for you.
9. Baked Parmesan Garlic Herb Salmon
While a bit expensive salmon is one of the fastest meats you can make. This recipe gives the salmon a fantastic flavor and keeps it really easy.
10. Korean BBQ Steak Bowls
This is a great dish to prep in the morning or the night before making it. You can throw all your prepped ingredients in the skillet and have dinner on the table quickly.
Check out my post Shrimp and Tortellini with Butternut Squash Sauce.
11. Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole
The sauce in this is going to feel like the most intensive part. Consider prepping this dish and freezing or refridgerating for when you are ready to make it. You coud also use left over bacon or chicken to cut down on your prep time.
12. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Sheet pan recipes are some of my favorite dishes to make. If you slice or dice chicken before freezing this will cut down on your prep time in the kitchen. Put some hot pads on the table and place the pan in the middle so everyone can build their own fajitas.
13. 15 Minute Chicken Stir Fry
Stir fry recipes are always quick and easy. They also make great budget friendly foods because you can load them up with inexpensive veggies. I often take leftovers and use them in my stir fry recipes because they are easier.
14. Creamy Broccoli Chicken and Bacon Pasta
To get a really good golden crisp on your chicken make sure you heat the pan and oil till hot. The oil might splatter a bit so be careful when adding your chicken to the pan. This will give it a nice crispy outside. Once the outside is light gold and crispy you can turn down and cover the pan till the kitchen is cooked through.
15. Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa
This is a great fresh dish for hot summer months. Start the marinade the night before to intensify the flavors. This will also make cooking it faster.
16. Dump and Bake Chicken Parmesan
If you cut up your chicken before freezing this dump and bake dish becomes loads easier. Dump and bake dishes are some of the best to make. I especially like dump and bakes that are prepared, frozen then day of defrosted in the fridge, dumped, and baked.
17. Famous Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Crock pot dinners are great for hot summer months when you the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove or turn on your oven. Crock pots and instant pots make cooking so much easier when trying to avoid extra heat in your home.
18. One Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
This is a go to favorite in our house. It’s like a homemade hamburger helper and the ultimate in comfort food dishes. It’s easy to make and even better as a left over lunch for the next day.
19. Southwest Chicken Skillet
Grab a rotisserie chicken to shred and make this cheap and easy meal in one skillet. It’s a delicious easy one skillet dinner.
20. One Pan Balsamic Chicken and Veggies
Meals like this one are my favorite, they are quick, easy, and healthy. Loaded with veggies and absolutely delicious.
21. One Pan Ranch Pork Chops and Veggies
When my husband wants pork this is our go to recipe to make. It’s quick and easy and done all on a baking sheet.
22. Best Chili Mac
This is an easy quick weeknight dinner. It’s delicious, takes very little time, and hits the spot when it’s all done.
23. Three Cheese Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese
This is one of the easiest ways to spruce up mac and cheese and end up with a delicious and filling dinner.
24. Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta
This is a fresh and easy dish that takes no time to make. I love simple and fresh dishes like this because of the light seasoning and the lemony flavor.
25. Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
I used to think making stuffed chicken recipes were difficult to make. That was until I tried this delicious recipe. It’s simple to make and perfect with a side of pasta or zoodles.
Check out my post Cheesy Garlic Sweet Potato Smash.
26. Lasagna Roll Ups
This is one of my favorite dishes to prep ahead of time. It’s so easy and can be easily frozen and made at a later date. Just remember to us a metal or aluminum fan if you plan on freezing and cover it while baking and warmed through before uncovering it to brown the cheese on top.
27. 20 Minute Broccoli and Cheese Soup
This is a super easy soup to make for dinners on those cold fall or winter nights. It’s a great fresh homemade soup that makes dinner time easy.
28. Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps
Get boneless fried chicken wings from the prepared food section of your grocery store and cut down on cooking time. Or for a healthier version use rotisserie chicken instead. It’s easy to make, filling, and great for a summer dish that doesn’t need a stove top of oven.
29. One Pan Cheesy Sausage Pasta
Sausage is such a versatile meat and is a great addition to pasta. This dish is easy to make and really delicious.
30. Colorful Smoked Sausage and Peppers
This is one of our favorite go to quick and easy dinners because you can usually find smoked sausage or kielbasa on sale. It pairs well with egg noodles or rice. While it doesn’t often last for leftovers in our house you can easily double the veggies and slice the sausage into smaller chunks if you are looking to make it last.
Remember to try out new recipes on nights when you have more motivation or more time. The first time you cook a recipe usually takes longer.
Keep that list of family favorite meals ready for when you do your grocery shopping and meal planning. Make sure you mark down your prep and cook times in that list so you can plan according to your schedule. I don’t know how many times I planned to make a meal on a night when I didn’t have enough time to make it.
Now you have 30 quick and easy dinner ideas to plan out your busy month. Do you have any quick and easy dinners? Share them in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest and pin this to your favorite food board to refer back to later.
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