The hustle and bustle of fall schedules is upon us! Here are 35 of our favorite Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Weeknights to ease you through busy back-to-school season, school pick-ups, sports carpools, and homework that never seems to end while still keeping you feed. These recipes feature Chicken, Beef, Pork, Pasta, and Vegetarian easy dinner ideas.
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The below post was originally published August 21, 2019 but I revisit this list almost every fall as we get organized for the new school year. Tomorrow will be our first day of school, and hopefully a more organized distance learning plan.
This 2020 school year looks a little different than in past years, but that doesn’t mean that we’re any less busy! If anything, we’re probably busier thanks to work at home and school at home situations.
The schedule de-conflicting is no joke, not to mention all the effort we’ve put into setting up everyone’s devices, boosting our internet as much as we can to accomodate video streaming, and finding a solution to help with all the homework scanning that occurs (believe me, after the spring I was done with this being a part time job for me), and so much more than anything else we’ve had to do before!
Dinner time rolls around before we know and and we’re left scrambling for what to eat. We need all the easy weeknight dinner ideas that we can get!
School starts tomorrow for us and we’ll be schooling at home at least until the end of September. We’ll find out in about a month what the remaining semester will look like.
Logan’s sophomore soccer season has been postponed until spring and with no activities on board for this fall, he’s decided to join the cross country team. So, he and Kendall will both be running for the high school this year while Madeline continues in middle school. Kayden has decided to play baseball during his 8th grade year. You should seriously see my color coded white board calendar to keep all this straight!
I am so incredibly grateful that our school is offering some sports! They have reorganized the season to place the most high contact sports later in the year, put tons of extra measures in place to make this safe for them while still being fun and giving them an opportunity to have some in person with their friends and peers. It makes it all feel a little more normal(ish). Even if that means limits on spectators and often no spectators at all.
While I find myself trying to get back in the swing of weekly meal planning, grocery lists, and dinner ideas for busy nights, I’ve been relying so much on lists like these 35 Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Weeknights.
Tips for Easy Dinner Recipes
Have a plan! Dinner becomes even easier when you know ahead of time what you’re going to make.
Grocery shop with intent. Once you have a plan, make sure you have any necessary items on your weekly list so you don’t need to run to the store last minute.
Do the chopping ahead of time! Chopped vegetables will be fine in the fridge for 3-7 days, depending on the vegetable.
Prepare what you can in advance – if there are multi steps to the recipe, do what you can a day or two before. For example, rice can be made ahead of time.
Click HERE to save these Easy Dinner Recipes to Pinterest!
As a reminder for myself, and a resource for others, here are 35 of our favorite easy dinner recipes for busy weeknights to use during the busy school year! Just click the red "GET RECIPE" button to see the instructions for each easy dinner recipe!
Looking for some more easy recipes to make for dinner? Head over to the full RECIPE INDEX to search the recipes, or check out the Ingredient Index if you'd like to browse recipes by specific ingredients.
Click HERE to save these Easy Dinner Recipes to Pinterest!
Crock Pot Mexican Chicken is the perfect shredded chicken recipe for your next Mexican recipe and a staple easy dinner recipe in our house. Packed with flavor and super tender thanks to hours in the crock pot, this recipe is sure to please!
Simple tacos nights are fast and easy to prepare when you have this chicken on hand. Stuff your favorite tortillas with lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, and this easy Crock Pot Mexican Chicken.
Italian Chicken, Mushroom, and Zucchini Skillet is a super easy dinner recipe for busy school nights. It features pan seared chicken tenderloins, zucchini and sliced mushrooms in garlicky herbed tomato sauce. Serve it with a side of your favorite pasta to complete the meal.
This Baked Honey Mustard Chicken is one of our favorite easy dinner recipes to make, and one of the most popular simple dinner recipe ideas on this website. Chicken Tenderloins are baked in a sweet and savory honey mustard sauce with sprigs of fresh rosemary.
We’ve combined two of our recent dinner time favorites – Chicken Enchiladas and Chili – into this new recipe for Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Chili. You'll love this easy chili recipe when you're looking for a simple dinner recipe that is hearty!
Tender chunks of chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, and corn simmer in a creamy, cheesy, enchilada flavored chili base for a creative take on a bowl of chili.
Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Chicken Lettuce Wraps are perfect for satisfying your next Taco Tuesday craving.
The chicken has a lighter, leaner flavor than the beef we typically buy for tacos. Inside the butter lettuce leaves, we added the ground chicken along with black beans and roasted sweet potatoes.
You can keep this easy dinner recipe just at that, or you can customize it by adding some additional toppings, like: diced red bell pepper, sliced green onion, roasted corn, cheese, and 5 Minute Basic Guacamole, which I let the kids whip up together.
This Bruschetta Chicken is a great example of a recipe that is simple and fast. I built upon a foundation I knew was popular in our house: chicken breast cooked in a simple blend of olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and added a new taste twist with the tomato-basil “bruschetta” topping.
This chicken is very versatile–you can serve it with pasta, roasted potatoes, garlic toast, etc. Or, you can add a nice salad, steamed veggies, or some fruit.
For little ones, it is easy to serve the chicken cut up into pieces, and the tomato-basil topping on the side, making this recipe one that a family of all ages would enjoy.
Easy One Skillet Baked Ziti is the perfect, easy comforting pasta dish - and baking it in a single skillet makes for quick preparation and very minimal clean up. Perfect for an easy weeknight dinner!
Don't have all the exact ingredients for this easy dinner recipe? No worries! I have tons of ideas for adapting it using ingredients you have on hand to make different variations of this simple dinner recipe.
Serve this with a simple green salad. We like Caesar Salad or this Copy Cat Olive Garden Salad. You can assemble either while the ziti bakes.
This recipe for Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Noodles is completely perfect for a busy, chilly evening. It takes no time at all to prepare and it absolutely hit the spot as simple comfort food.
Best of all it is an easy one pot meal because there is plenty of protein, veggies, and pasta all mixed in. But, if you like, you can always serve this with an additional vegetable or salad on the side.
For days when the plans are thrown by the wayside I like to have a few easy pantry meals, like this Easy Tomato Florentine Soup, up my sleeve.
It's loaded with diced tomatoes, spinach, and plenty of onion in garlic in a tasty broth with pasta (use whatever shape you like!). If meatless isn't your thing, add in some Italian Sausage for a heartier meal.
It’s a comforting thing to still be able to put a healthy, enjoyable easy meal on the table at dinner time even if other aspects of the day have been crazy.
In this recipe for Southwestern Black Bean Pasta, pasta is tossed with a southwestern flavored tomato saute, onions, bell pepper, and plenty of black beans.
This simple vegetarian black bean pasta dish only takes a few minutes to prepare and uses mostly pantry ingredients. This is a great easy dinner to use as a base to add leftover grilled or rotisserie chicken to if you don't want to go meatless. I like to top it with Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese.
Dinner just got super quick and easy thanks to this sheet pan meal featuring roasted pork, carrots, golden beets, red onion, Brussels Sprouts, and parsnips. I love that this easy meal has everything you need, no extra sides needed. However, our kids love when I serve this with some garlic bread on the side.
Next time you’re craving Pork Carnitas, try this Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Lettuce Wrap version. Top it off with some fruity Mango Salsa for a fresh burst of flavor.
The Mango Salsa can be prepped ahead of time and the shredded pork stores well in the freezer if you like to keep extra on hand for later meals. Prepping elements of multi part meals ahead of time makes easy dinner recipes even faster to prepare on your busy days.
Fresh, summertime vegetables are tossed in pesto and balsamic and cooked with boneless pork chops in this makeover version of the classic foil dinners from childhood. If you don't have time to make homemade pesto, store-bought will do.
Tip: if you make pesto, prepare extra and freeze in sandwich size zip top bags or ice cube trays to use in future recipes. This saves tons of time and makes this easy dinner recipe much quicker to prepare!
Slow Cooker Southwestern Pulled Pork, featuring the flavors of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cilantro and jalapeño, makes dinner easy on a busy day. This meat is great in tacos, burritos, or for a spicy pulled pork sandwich.
Switch up your usual Taco Tuesday plans by letting the Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker do all the work! Shredded, tender pork is served in steamed corn tortillias with whatever toppings you like (or have time for!). Personally, I like diced avocado and thinly sliced onions to go with this recipe.
When you account for ordering and driving time, this homemade Chinese Beef Broccoli is actually quicker to prepare at home than it is to order takeout. And, it's usually a healthier option.
Make this recipe even quicker by purchasing already cut and trimmed broccoli florets and thinly sliced stir-fry meat if you can find that. I love that this easy dinner recipe is actually faster to prepare than it is to drive to and from picking up Chinese takeout.
This isn’t a complicated, fancy chili. Beefy Kidney Bean Chili is delicious in its simplicity and pairs perfectly with a side of Corn Bread Muffins. I think it is also the perfect chili flavor for a loaded up chili dog or loaded baked potato (you can even bake a potato fast!) should you be in the mood.
You can prepare this in the morning and let it simmer all day. It also stores incredibly well in the freezer, so make make a double batch and save yourself some work on a future meal!
For an easy dinner idea make loaded baked potatoes with this chili! Check out my recipe for perfect baked potatoes and plenty of time saving tips!
Chuck roast is cooked until tender with garlic, herbs, and plenty of tomatoes in this Instant Pot Italian Beef Ragu with Pappardelle for a delicious and hearty family pasta night recipe.
Don't have an Instant Pot yet? They're worth investing in. Think Crock Pot on Steroids...large cuts of meat cook tender in a fraction of the time that it takes to use a slow cooker. It makes easy dinner recipes so much faster to prepare!
Roasted butternut squash, roasted corn, and fire roasted tomatoes pair with black beans in this hearty, meatless Roasted Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili. This is a great way to get some extra veggies in your family's diet. I like to serve this with tortilla chips for scooping and sliced or diced avocado as a topping.
Consider these Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers an updated version of that classic recipe that so many of us love. Swap out the rice for nutrient rich quinoa, the ground beef for black beans (for fiber and protein) and add some extra vegetables for color, flavor, and texture.
These peppers have so much flavor and color. I love them! These Stuffed Bell Peppers are full of healthy vegetables and protein (you can thank the quinoa and cheese for that) and a little heat from the pepper jack and poblano.
It is a great vegetarian meal that proves meatless doesn’t have to be boring.
Switch up your traditional fajita recipe for a meatless version using nutrient-rich portabella mushrooms. You won't be missing out when it comes to these Vegetarian Fajitas because they're packed with flavor (and nutrients!).
This Vegetarian Pizza is loaded with bell peppers, olives, onions, and even more fresh veggies! The mixture of salty feta and creamy mozzarella really make this veggie pizza.
Prep all of the vegetables ahead of time or enlist family members to help with the chopping and you'll be amazed at what an easy dinner recipe homemade pizza becomes!
Time saving tip: purchase already prepared pizza dough that is ready to roll and bake if you don't have time to make you're own. Most grocery stores have various options in the refrigerated and freezer sections. Or, bake this pizza on already cooked flabread.
You definitely have to try these Sesame Noodles. It is such a fast meal to prepare! They are even better if you can make them earlier in the day and allow the veggies and noodles to marinade in the sauce.
For an extra time saving tip, purchase pre-cut matchstick carrots to make this recipe even quicker to prepare. If you’re willing to put a little more effort into it (and not worried about going meatless), I have a hunch that this Lemongrass Shrimp would be delicious tossed in.
What are your favorite easy dinner recipes to make on busy weeknights?