Above: one of our weeknight faves: egg roll in a bowl!
37 weeknight meals readers are loving
Why is it that one can never have too much weeknight recipe inspo? 😂 Probably because it feels nearly impossible to plan quick, low-effort dinners that please everyone. Even before June, cooking meals for one or two people on a weeknight sometimes felt like a huge challenge! (How do you cook for one without tons of leftovers?!) I thought it would be great to crowdsource some ideas from you all: the queens of great intel!
Below I think you’ll find something for everyone–from easy “no recipe recipes” that can be just as easily made for 4 as they can for one, to recipes that are weeknight approved but impressive enough for Thursday night dinner guests–even some recipes that trick your kids into eating broccoli. 😉
Air Fryer Veggies + Rotisserie Chicken
For the air fryer lovers out there! One of the best simple weeknight dinners: a delicious veggie side and a rotisserie chicken. You can air fry just about every veggie out there, which means this recipe is here to stay in the rotation. (French fries count as a veggie, right?) Sometimes I make meals too complicated, this one is proof that sometimes the simplest dinners win!
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
A sheet pan recipe means way less cleanup, and this chicken fajita recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes! (I use a store-bought fajita seasoning mix to make it even easier OR, just buy the pre-marinated kind at the butcher counter or Trader Joes!) Use it to make fajita bowls, salads, or throw in a tortilla with your favorite toppings.
Sweet Potatoes with toppings
Microwaved sweet potatoes make a great side for dinner but did you know they also make a great base? You can top them with a store-bought or leftover BBQ chicken mix, Carnitas, leftover ground turkey or beef or even black beans (taco style? Sloppy Joe style? Chili?) Lots of options here!
A one-pot pasta during the week is one of life’s simple pleasures. This lemon pasta is a one-pot, under-30-minute recipe that is a reader favorite! You can also jazz it up with some rotisserie chicken, sliced chicken sausage, broccoli, or toasted breadcrumbs.
Who doesn’t love nachos!? These are especially popular among moms of older kids. They are great for feeding a crowd or new guests because everyone can top them to their liking! And if you have picky eaters, it’s easier to sneak veggies into a meal with chips and cheese!
Buddha bowls can be a staple with your favorite combo and are easy to switch up with different proteins, toppings, or dressings! You can make it as easy or gourmet as you’d like–it’s simple to do with a can of chickpeas and a bottle of curry sauce or peanut dressing and your favorite veggies/starch, or you can make your own sauce like the recipe linked above! Chickpeas are an easy, fast, no-cook protein, but you could easily use chicken, salmon, (whatever you have leftover in the fridge!)
Tomato Butter Pasta
Ali Slagle’s tomato butter pasta is so quick but feels fancy–a great way to use up delicious summer tomatoes and perfect for a weeknight when you need a little extra comfort!
I feel like taco salad is the #1 recipe that is in almost every American family’s rotation–but sometimes we forget about it! If you’ve also pushed it to the back burner, it’s time for the resurgence of the taco salad. You can make it from a salad kit or pre-shredded romaine, ground turkey/beef/chicken can be cooked ahead of time (or nixed altogether in favor of black beans!) you can add whatever veggies you have on hand–and if you want to get real wild–I like to crumble Doritos on top. 🙌🏼 (I also love Late July chips as a healthier Doritos dupe!)
Kitchen Sink Pasta
Pasta can almost always be a toddler-approved meal! One reader loves using this easy garlic cheese pasta recipe as a base and pairing it with any leftover chicken or veggies in the fridge! (Genius!)
When you need another pasta in the rotation (who doesn’t?) one reader said this sausage pasta is a weeknight hero because it’s delicious and under 30 minutes!
Homemade Burrito Bowls can be delicious and even turned into tacos or nachos for more ahem, opinionated family members, with whatever you have in the fridge. Use rotisserie chicken for the fastest shortcut or use black beans to keep it veggie.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Chicken wings in the air fryer make for a great protein-packed dinner that is healthier than more traditional wings! Easy to pair with a salad (bagged is encouraged) carrots and celery or sweet potato fries!
BBQ Salmon and Pesto Roasted Veggies
Trader Joes BBQ Salmon is a major reader crowdpleaser year-round, but especially great for summer paired with some simple roasted (or air fried!) veggies. I loved the reader tip to toss veggies with TJ’s pesto for extra kick! (TJ’s zhoug sauce would be great too!)
A good ole Turkey Sandwich
OK. Hear me out. Why do we always over-complicate dinner? A good ole turkey sandwich can be just the thing for a busy weeknight. You can make them ahead of time and even eat them in a new location to mix things up–the playground or the park. A living room picnic, or my favorite, a “car picnic” 😉 Sometimes with a little re-branding, the mundane can become a special occasion.
Trader Joes Shawarma Chicken
Trader Joes Shawarma Chicken is pre-marinated and can be a great fail-safe for a healthy dinner. (One of my personal faves and a hit with readers too!) Throw it on the grill or pop it in the oven to roast and pair it with your favorite rice and veggies! Use leftovers to make a delicious spicy chicken soup!
Broccoli pesto pizzas
Broccoli pesto pizzas are a great way to get in your veggies and can be made with either store-bought dough, or even quicker–this recipe uses store-bought naan bread! Customize to your liking!
Store-bought polenta with toppings
Store-bought polenta (comes in a tube! A great pantry staple!) can be topped with roasted cherry tomatoes (you can roast them fast in the air fryer!), goat cheese, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. (OR, skip the roasting altogether and make the tiktok marinated feta and just add diced tomatoes to the jar for a fresh bruschetta-like topping! It’s SO GOOD.)
You can cut the polenta into rounds and either pan-fry it or grill like this recipe for a summery twist! No recipe needed though–top with whatever you have on hand!
Cashew Thai Quinoa salad
This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen is full of crunch, quinoa for protein (could always add rotisserie chicken for more!) and the ginger dressing sounds delicious!
Greek tortellini salad
Greek tortellini salad is a great thing to make ahead and stock in the fridge–for dinner or lunch!
Egg Roll in a Bowl
One of our weeknight favorites over here–so much that I wrote my own post about it! It’s so quick and easy, I’ll often even make it for weekday lunch!
Grilled salmon bowls
A very popular suggestion! You can make them as simple or as fancy as you’d like–if your short on time, this TJ’s salmon bowl idea is super fast and easy
It doesn’t get much easier than Ground turkey tacos. (I’ve riffed off this recipe before with great results!) Only thing you have to cook is the meat, and then fill your favorite store-bought tortillas with your favorite toppings!
There are so many kinds of ways to make Burger Salad, but I love this classic variation! You can either make burger patties or skip it and just sauté the ground meat (like you would a taco salad!) It’s so easy and a nice way to mix things up from the weeknight taco salad rotation!
Chicken pitas! Grill or roast chicken, stuff in a pita/naan and then add your favorite toppings! (No recipe needed, but this one looks great!)
Naan pizza with jarred pesto, red onion and prosciutto. Top with EVOO and dressed arugula! An easy, no-cook option that will impress even the meat lovers!
Sriracha Honey Glazed Shrimp
Sriracha honey glazed shrimp only take 10 minutes. Easy to serve with steamed broccoli (you can even steam it in the microwave!) or sautéed veggies of your choice!
Buffalo Chicken Wraps :
Buffalo chicken wraps can be made lots of ways–this recipe looks great, or you can grill the chicken! Can also skip the wrap and cut chicken into nuggets for littles!
Focaccia Pizza :
Focaccia pizza with store-bought bread sliced in half with sauce, mozzarella cheese, pesto and any other veggie. No recipe needed, but here’s one if you prefer to follow a recipe!
Lemon Pasta :
How Sweet Eats Coziest Lemon Pasta (so many of you love this one!) Sounds like just the right balance of light, fresh, and indulgent!
One Pot Chicken Alfredo :
I love Cassy’s recipes because they’re full of amazing shortcuts. I made her one pot chicken Alfredo pasta a couple weeks ago (literally dump ALL ingredients in one pan–yep, including the dry pasta and the raw chicken– cook, serve) and it was so easy. I actually didn’t even bother baking it as her recipe calls for–I just made it on the stovetop and it was delicious!
Half Baked Harvest Hot Honey Mustard Chicken
A couple of you suggested this delicious looking recipe! I will admit it definitely seems like a “when you have extra time on a weekday” recipe as it’s a bit more steps than I would typically take on a night where I’m tired and need to get dinner on the table ASAP–but it definitely looks worth the effort!
Ina Garten’s Panzanella Salad
Ina Garten’s panzanella salad: Ina never steers me wrong, and it seems like you all agree! This salad can stand on its own or be the perfect side for quick grilled chicken or pork chops! (Bonus: you can make it ahead and it’s a great way to use up any stale bread!)
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Broccoli pesto pasta: Looks delicious, fast, and bonus: a way to trick your kid into eating vegetables. If you want to add a no-cook meat option, it would be super easy to add prosciutto! (I’d crisp it up in the pan first and add it at the end just before serving!)