0.You know how it goes.
You come home from work. You’re tired, hungry, and you have no idea what to make for dinner. You don’t want to order out again, but you don’t feel like chopping up a bunch of veggies and you don’t have any meat thawed out. You want something quick and easy, but not boring either.
We all have those days. While I try to meal plan as much as possible to avoid these situations, it still happens. That’s why I try to keep a rotation of easy and delicious dinner ideas in my back pocket. You’ll want to make sure you have a few basic staples on hand at all times. Dry pasta, canned sauces, a few types of veggies, stuff like that.
Below is a list of incredibly simple recipes included in our regular dinner rotation. All of these recipes require very few ingredients as well as very little effort to make. Any of these can also easily be made vegetarian as well if you don’t eat meat (or if you forgot to thaw something out!) Remember, we’re going for really simple, easy, forgot-to-think-about-dinner-until-I-got-home type of recipes. Perfect for busy weeknights or just lazy days!
Spaghetti is always a favorite, but if you ever want to mix it up, just try changing your noodles. Instead of spaghetti noodles, I love to use rigatoni. I just make a simple meat sauce with some ground beef and my favorite spaghetti sauce of all time – Barilla Roasted Garlic Sauce. Mix the sauce in with some cooked rigatoni noodles, top with shaved Parmesan cheese, and you’re good to go. Even though it’s essentially the same ingredients as regular old spaghetti, it feels like you’re eating a completely different meal. You can even skip the meat and go vegetarian with just your favorite tomato sauce.
2. Spaghetti Squash
I always keep at least one spaghetti squash in the pantry. This is my go-to when I need something easy and healthy. If you’ve never cooked spaghetti squash before, just think about meals that you would use regular spaghetti noodles in. You can sub the noodles for spaghetti squash and have a much healthier meal that still tastes great. To cook spaghetti squash, just cut it in half (microwave it for 5 minutes first to make this easier), scoop out the seeds, drizzle some olive oil, salt, and pepper over each half and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes on 400 degrees. Top it with a simple marinara sauce, chicken Alfredo, or even chicken Parmesan. The possibilities are endless!
Who says breakfast food is only for mornings? We love breakfast here in the Stark household. There are so many delicious options to mix it up for a while. A few of our favorites are homemade Egg McMuffins, bacon and eggs, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes. The great thing is that most of these ideas are super easy and quick to throw together. Yum!
4. Burrito Bowls
If you have some rice, veggies, and a few toppings, you can easily make a homemade burrito bowl. Just start with rice as your base, then add some canned beans and grilled chicken (or keep it vegetarian if you’d like), grilled peppers and onions, and whatever toppings you’d like. Cheese, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, fresh lime juice, cilantro – whatever you want! This is definitely a favorite at our house. We like to prep these ahead of time and take them for lunches during the week as well.
5. Homemade Pizza
Believe it or not, homemade pizza can actually be pretty much effortless to make. I like to keep a few packages of pre-made pizza dough on hand. My favorite is the Garlic & Herb Pizza Dough from Trader Joe’s. I just roll the dough out onto a baking sheet or pizza stone, add toppings, and bake it according to the package directions. You can use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it super easy or just add your own seasonings to a can of crushed tomatoes. If you feel like mixing it up, try jarred pesto or even a tapenade as a sauce.
I hope this has given you some new ideas for those nights when you have no time or energy to come up with a creative meal. Quick and easy doesn’t have to mean boring! What are some of your go-to easy weeknight meals?
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