Quick And Easy Dinner Ideas

by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.78 from 9 votes
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Are you spending way too much time and mental energy thinking about “what should I cook for dinner tonight?” I feel you. It can be such a time and energy drain! But I’ve got some simple solutions for you. I’ve compiled this list of Quick and Easy Dinner ideas, so you can crush your goals, eat better, save money, feel like a superhero, and still have a little time to put your feet up at the end of the day. 😊

Originally posted 6-21-2018, updated 6-23-2021.

Collage of dinner photos with title text in the center

The Best Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas

The criteria for making this list include:

  • Short ingredient list
  • Fast (about 30 minutes)
  • Easy recipes suitable for beginners
  • Comprised of mostly pantry staples, so you can whip them up on the fly

And by “pantry staples” I mean items that are shelf-stable so you can keep them on hand without worrying they’ll spoil. This can be dry goods (actual pantry), refrigerator items that have a long shelf life, or items that can be stashed in the freezer for a rainy day. Check out my list of Pantry Staples so you can get a good idea of what to stock up on for fast weeknight dinners.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with your browser’s bookmark feature, you’re going to want to keep these quick and easy weeknight dinners handy!!

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

Easy pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet with a spatula
This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!
4.87 from 22 votes
$11.07 recipe / $2.77 serving Get the Recipe

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – This dish cooks up fast and easy like a stir fry, but is flavored with basil pesto and Parmesan. It’s hearty, healthy, and delicious! You can eat it on its own as a lower-carb meal, or spoon it over rice or pasta. Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 11


Weeknight Black Bean Chili

This easy and comforting black bean chili is rich, full of warm chili spices, and fast enough to pull together on a busy weeknight. 
4.78 from 77 votes
$7.19 recipe / $1.20 serving Get the Recipe

Weeknight Black Bean Chili – Chili is such a classic and total family pleaser and this black bean version is also a winner. You can keep almost all of these ingredients on hand, ready to go, and make use of anything you might have leftover in the fridge for toppings, like sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, or tortilla chips. Total Time: 35 min. Number of Ingredients: 12


One Pot Cheeseburger Pasta

Close up of cheeseburger pasta skillet being scooped out with a spoon
Cheeseburger Pasta is a fast and easy homemade version of hamburger helper that cooks all in one pot for easy cleanup!
4.79 from 65 votes
$5.03 recipe / $1.26 serving Get the Recipe

Cheeseburger Pasta Skillet – This super easy one-pot pasta will bring all the comfort food vibes back from your childhood. It’s like a homemade version of hamburger helper, made totally from scratch, but somehow just as easy as the boxed version. WIN. Total Time: 30 min. Number of ingredients: 10


Tuscan White Bean Pasta

This Tuscan White Bean Pasta is a fast and flavorful dish that is perfect for weeknight dinners. The caramelized garlic, basil, and Parmesan pack a huge flavor punch! BudgetBytes.com
This Tuscan White Bean Pasta is a fast and flavorful dish that is perfect for weeknight dinners. Caramelized garlic, basil, and Parmesan add BIG flavor!
4.90 from 55 votes
$6.45 recipe / $1.61 serving Get the Recipe

Tuscan White Bean Pasta – No time to thaw meat? No problem. This Tuscan White Bean Pasta is still packed with protein, but utilizes a shelf stable can of white beans instead of meat! What more could you want from a quick weeknight meal? Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 11


Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

These super fast Curried Chickpeas with spinach are packed with flavor and nutrients, vegan, gluten-free, and filling! Plus they freeze great! BudgetBytes.com
These super fast Curried Chickpeas with spinach are packed with flavor and nutrients, vegan, gluten-free, and filling! Plus they freeze great!
4.74 from 146 votes
$4.68 recipe / $1.17 serving Get the Recipe

Curried Chickpeas with Spinach – You won’t believe the flavor in this dish, despite the incredibly short ingredient list! It’s kind of amazing how just a little curry powder and tomato sauce can turn into something so fantastic. No time to make rice to go along with it? Serve this with pita or naan bread to make things even easier. Total Time: 25 min. Number of Ingredients: 8


Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles

Sweet, salty, rich, and crunchy, these Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles hit all the bases. It’s fast, easy comfort food for busy nights! BudgetBytes.com
Sweet, salty, rich, and crunchy, these Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles hit all the bases. It’s fast, easy comfort food for busy nights! 
4.80 from 179 votes
$3.75 recipe / $1.25 serving Get the Recipe

Pork and Peanut Dragon Noodles – Seriously, forget take out. You can do better at home, with only SEVEN ingredients and 25 minutes (it takes longer to order delivery anyway, ammiright?). You can easily adjust the spiciness of these noodles, or toss in any extra vegetables you might have in your fridge. Total Time: 25 min. Number of Ingredients: 7


One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff

Overhead view of a bowl full of beef and mushroom stroganoff
This super easy one pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff is a delicious and comforting weeknight dinner that requires just a few ingredients.
4.68 from 178 votes
$5.54 recipe / $1.39 serving Get the Recipe

One Pot Beef and Mushroom Stroganoff – This super creamy and savory pasta cooks all in one pot so not only are you going to spend less time cooking, but you’ll spend less time cleaning up! Total Time: 30 min. Number of ingredients: 11


Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

This fast and easy Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry is a filling low carb dinner with big flavor and endless possibilities for customization. 
4.84 from 342 votes
$7.14 recipe / $1.79 serving Get the Recipe

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry – Stir fries are the epitome of fast weeknight dinners! This Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry has gone viral because it’s incredible flavor and easy prep. To make things even easier, grab a bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) so you can just toss it in the skillet and skip all the chopping! Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 14


Southwest Chicken Skillet

If you're looking for a quick and easy dinner, this Southwest Chicken Skillet is it! Precooked chicken makes this dinner possible in about 30 minutes. BudgetBytes.com
If you're looking for a quick and easy dinner, this Southwest Chicken Skillet is it! Precooked chicken makes this dinner possible in about 30 minutes.
4.82 from 160 votes
$6.76 recipe / $1.69 serving Get the Recipe

Southwest Chicken Skillet – This is another great “rotisserie chicken helper” type meal. It comes together quickly, is full of flavor, uses just a handful of ingredients, and is as satisfying as that burrito bowl you were going to order from Chipot… er… that restaurant. Total Time: 25 min. Number of Ingredients: 8


Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner that only requires a few ingredients. BudgetBytes.com
Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is a quick and flavorful weeknight dinner that only requires a few ingredients.
4.68 from 106 votes
$5.23 recipe / $1.31 serving Get the Recipe

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan – It’s amazing how just a little bacon and Parmesan can transform plain pasta into something crave-worthy. And I like to throw in a little spinach just for good measure. ;) Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 6


Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans

Sheet pan roasted kielbasa potatoes and green beans with a spatula
Sheet pan meals don't get any easier or more delicious than this Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans dinner.
4.86 from 41 votes
$9.47 recipe / $2.37 serving Get the Recipe

Sheet Pan Kielbasa, Potatoes, and Green Beans – While this dish does take a little longer than 30 minutes to make, the hands time is very minimal, as is the ingredient list. Just six simple ingredients and you have an incredibly flavorful and filling dinner! Total Time: 45 min. Number of Ingredients: 6


Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup

A bowl of Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup with two pieces of toasted bread and a black spoon in the middle.
This incredibly easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup takes only eight simple ingredients to deliver a bowl full of rich, bold flavor.
4.79 from 118 votes
$2.49 recipe / $0.62 serving Get the Recipe

Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup – When the chilly weather hits, there’s nothing like a hearty bowl of warm soup for dinner. Add some crusty bread and you have a super easy and filling meal. Plus, the leftovers are great! Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 8


One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

This One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta cooks quickly and in one skillet so that no flavor is lost! Make dinner fast, easy, and delicious. BudgetBytes.com
This One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta cooks quickly and in one skillet so that no flavor is lost! Make dinner fast, easy, and delicious.
4.82 from 65 votes
$5.58 recipe / $1.40 serving Get the Recipe

One Pot Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta – You’ll feel like you’re eating dinner at a fancy bistro with this one, but really you can whip up this masterpiece at home in just ONE pan, and in 30 minutes. And there’s no waiter to tip. ;) Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 9


Blackened Salmon with Zucchini

Blackened salmon with zucchini on a plate with a black fork on the side
Blackened salmon coated in Cajun spices, cooked to perfection in butter, and paired with simple sautéed zucchini makes a simple but delicious dinner!
4.77 from 17 votes
$13.30 recipe / $3.33 serving Get the Recipe

Blackened Salmon and Zucchini – A healthy dose of herbs and spices take this salmon to the next level! It cooks in minutes in a skillet, and then the zucchini is sautéed in the same skillet so none of those spices go to waste. It’s fast, efficient, and has very little clean up! Total Time: 30 min. Number of Ingredients: 13


Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Overhead view of a bowl full of creamy tomato and spinach pasta, a black fork in the side
Easier than a box meal, this creamy tomato and spinach pasta is also more flavorful and delicious. 100% real ingredients. Perfect for busy weeknights! 
4.86 from 391 votes
$3.72 recipe / $0.93 serving Get the Recipe

Creamy Tomato and Spinach Pasta – Super simple and satisfying, this creamy tomato and spinach pasta hits all the marks for a weeknight dinner. If you want to punch it up a bit you can always add some rotisserie chicken or Italian sausage! Total Time: 25 min. Number of Ingredients: 14


Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen

Close up overhead view of a bowl full of vegan creamy mushroom ramen with chopsticks lifting some noodles
This incredibly simple Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen is a rich and flavorful 15 minute meal that only requires a handful of ingredients! 
4.87 from 120 votes
$2.75 per serving Get the Recipe

Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen – This recipe is the ultime instant ramen hack. It’s so fast, so simple, and so incredibly creamy and delicious! Plus it’s flexible and allows you to use up odds and ends of other ingredients in your fridge. Total Time: 15 min. Number of Ingredients: 8


Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet

Side view of a skillet full of Cajun Sausage and Rice
This easy Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet is the perfect easy and filling weeknight dinner, packed with plenty of smoky-spicy flavor!
4.88 from 106 votes
$7.21 recipe / $1.80 serving Get the Recipe

Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet – Another easy one pot dish with very little clean up!! There is so much flavor in this spicy and rich rice dish that you’ll keep coming back for more and more. And the leftovers are just as good the next day! Total Time: 45 min. Number of Ingredients: 14


Eggplant Mozzarella Sandwiches

front view of one eggplant mozzarella sandwich
These Eggplant Mozzarella Sandwiches are an easy vegetarian dish with plenty of options for customizing to fit your tastes and budget.
5 from 10 votes
$6.41 recipe / $2.14 serving Get the Recipe

Eggplant Mozzarella Sandwiches – This is an easy vegetarian meal that even your meat-eaters will love! It’s hearty, tasty, and topped with tons of melty mozzarella. Who would say no to that?? Total Time: 40 min. Number of Ingredients: 10


Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli

Close up of a fork twirling some Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli on a black plate
Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli is a quick and easy all-in-one bowl dinner recipe with a rich, buttery, salty, and sweet sauce.
4.68 from 37 votes
$6.55 recipe / $1.63 serving Get the Recipe

Garlic Noodles with Beef and Broccoli – Forget take-out, these noodles are to die for! They’re rich, salty, slightly sweet, and absolutely addictive. Total Time: 25 min. Number of Ingredients: 11


And just for fun, here is ONE MORE quick and easy dinner idea for you (see the full blog post for this recipe here):

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Pasta with Bacon and Peas

4.78 from 9 votes
Pasta with Bacon and Peas is a quick, satisfying, and inexpensive meal that you can make with ingredients that you can keep on hand.
Close up overhead view of a bowl of pasta with bacon and peas.
Servings 3
Prep 5 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. pasta* ($0.63)
  • 6 oz. bacon ($2.06)
  • 1 small onion ($0.32)
  • 1 cup frozen peas ($0.50)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan ($0.44)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) ($0.01)

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve about a half cup of the starchy pasta water before draining the pasta in a colander.
  • While the pasta is boiling, cook the bacon. Add the bacon to a large skillet and cook over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate with a slotted spoon. Drain most of the bacon grease from the pan, leaving about 2 Tbsp.
  • While the bacon is cooking, finely dice the onion. Add the diced onion to the remaining bacon grease and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the frozen peas and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Continue to cook and stir until the peas have heated through.
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet, stir to combine, and remove from the heat.
  • Top the pasta with Parmesan, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and crumbled bacon. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*You can use any type of pasta available.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.3cupsCalories: 601kcalCarbohydrates: 67gProtein: 22gFat: 26gSodium: 724mgFiber: 6g
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Feel free to share your go-to weeknight dinner recipes for other readers to enjoy in the comments below. :) The more the merrier!

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  1. My husband doesn’t care for peas but had 3 bowls of this. I did add a little bit of chicken broth.

    1. Hi Rem- I would need to know what recipe you are trying to make. Since most serve four, I recommend multiplying by 1.5 and saving leftovers for the next day. You can also use the tool in the recipe card that allows you to adjust servings. XOXO -Monti

  2. Love these recipes! Lot of these are on regular rotation in my house, I’d just add the herb tomato soup to it or a classic cottage pie.

    Any chance of getting metric conversions on the site in the future?

  3. Would love to see a “recipe file” option on your website so I can save recipes and refer to them quickly when I have ingredients I need to use up. Thank you.

  4. I’m going to print all these out and make a mini cookbook with them.  Several of them are already favourites in this house. 

  5. What a great line-up of recipes. Can’t wait to give these a try as lack of time and energy to cook is why we eat out way too often. Thanks so much.

  6. Your frittata recipes are just the best, and have become my go-to weeknight recipe. Whenever I have leftover roasted veggies, proteins, really anything I just put them in the cast iron skillet, add some cheese, and add the 6 cup egg to 1/4 cup milk you tend to use in most of your recipes. By the time its out of the oven the house smells awesome and I’m ready to go! We eat them once a week usually, and even when I don’t have meat I usually have a bag of chopped kale in the fridge and TJ’s bagged sundried tomatoes in my pantry – how yummy!

  7. Your timing is perfect! I just sat down to make my weekly shopping list and I always go to your site first.  This week: DONE!!!!