50+ Best Easy Dinner Ideas
Updated Oct 15, 2023
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Here’s your ultimate guide for the best easy dinner ideas! From lightning-fast recipes to batch cooking on a Sunday, I’ll show you how to plan a stress-free week filled with tasty and nourishing meals the whole family will enjoy.
Table of contents
- Plan Your Dinner Recipes Ahead
- Easy Dinner Ideas Under 30 Minutes
- Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Love
- Air Fryer Dinner Ideas
- Best Dinner Ideas with Chicken
- Exciting Ground Beef Dinner Ideas
- Fresh and Light Seafood Dinner Ideas
- Salads for Dinner That Honestly Keep You Full
- Veggie-Heavy Vegetarian Dinner Ideas
- The Best Dinner Meal Prep
Plan Your Dinner Recipes Ahead
Ever struggle to get a home-cooked meal done by dinner time? Or feel uninspired by your weekly rotation? Well, good news – I’ve rounded up a list of the best dinner ideas that check the boxes for healthy, uncomplicated, and super delicious.
To make the most of this list, it’s really about planning ahead. Here are a few ways to strategize — no matter how your week pans out:
- Make a list of 30-minute recipes to keep on hand. For days where you have one hour to spare for cooking, these will come in handy. Think one pan meals, easy stir fry recipes, and sheet pan dinners that are jam packed with flavor.
- Batch cook ingredients to save time throughout the week. If you’ve followed my meal prep guide before, you know just how convenient this plan is. Instead of batch cooking entire recipes, you’ll prep ingredients to create exciting mix and match meals that come together in about 5 minutes.
- Rely on freezer-friendly meals for busy months. You can make a scrumptious chicken casserole and pre-cut it into portions for a grab-and-go reheatable meal. Or cook up a big pot of beef chili and freeze several portions for later. Just make sure to plan for meals that store well and can be reheated throughout the month. You’ll soon start to appreciate these instant freezer meals!
Easy Dinner Ideas Under 30 Minutes
These flavorful yet easy dinner ideas can be ready in under 30 minutes! That means minimal ingredients and tools with easy clean up. Who doesn’t love that?
Mediterranean Cod en Papillote: In 30 minutes, you’ll have flaky baked cod and perfectly steamed veggies infused with fresh Mediterranean flavors.
Chicken Stir-Fry: This speedy dinner is loaded with juicy chicken, colorful veggies, and is a 30 minute meal the whole family will love!
Shrimp Scampi: Nothing beats a classic shrimp scampi cooked in the most fragrant garlic butter sauce. And yes, it only takes about 10 minutes to make! Side note — you can toss it with zucchini noodles to make this zucchini pasta with shrimp.
Mediterranean Ground Beef Stir Fry: The best thing about this easy stir fry dinner is how customizable it is! Plus, it tastes great served with rice, lentils, and more.
Tuna Salad: For something super quick, this creamy and crunchy tuna salad always ticks the box. Plus, you can serve it with bread or lettuce wraps. And if you want extra greens in your meal — you’ll love this broccoli tuna salad.
Best Baked Salmon: This easy 15-minute dinner achieves perfectly tender salmon coated in lemon garlic butter and fresh herbs.
Turkey Burgers: These turkey patties can be made in under 30 minutes and they’re super juicy! Serve them as a classic burger, a lettuce wrap or a burger bowl.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps: This chicken lettuce wrap is perfect for a fresh yet savory meal that can be made in under 30 minutes!
Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Love
Satisfy those picky eaters with these deliciously comforting dinner ideas for the family! Choose from stir-fry’s, stews, and classic shrimp and chicken meals — with a healthy, homemade spin.
Creamy Tuscan Chicken: Tender chicken simmered in a creamy sauce filled with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach is sure to be a dinner favorite.
Beef Stew: The whole family will love this cold-weather, one-pot wonder with chunks of beef chuck roast that are seared until golden, then simmered with vegetables and herbs in a rich and savory broth.
Shrimp Fried Rice: Skip the Chinese take-out and make your own shrimp fried rice at home! It’s super easy and tastes just as good (if not better).
Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Boats: Give pizza a healthy new twist with these stuffed zucchini boats. I guarantee the kiddos will love this.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust: Enjoy pizza with a healthy twist using this easy cauliflower pizza crust! Plus, everyone can get creative with their toppings.
Barbacoa Burrito Bowls: If you’ve got a slow cooker, this barbacoa recipe will save you time and delivers a big flavor. Build Chipotle-like bowls with cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, beans, corn, and guacamole. And if you’re a pork fan, you’ll love this carnitas recipe.
Air Fryer Dinner Ideas
It’s really hard to beat the air fryer when it comes to easy dinner ideas. Bonus – there’s usually just one item to cleanup afterward – the air fryer itself!
Air Fryer Chicken Breast: This is an air fryer staple recipe to keep in your back pocket. It results in super juicy chicken coated in the best seasoning.
Air Fryer Salmon Bites: Anything bite-sized naturally makes your meals so much more fun and delicious. So if you’re looking for a new way to cook salmon for dinner, you’ll love these salmon bites coated in the best lemon garlic butter sauce.
Air Fryer Salmon: The spiced Dijon mustard topping on these salmon filets is chef’s kiss. Plus, they turn out super moist with a beautiful outer crust every time.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings: The entire family will love these crispy and juicy lemon pepper chicken wings. And yes, they can be served for dinner or as an appetizer.
Best Dinner Ideas with Chicken
There’s no denying our love for chicken when it comes to dinner. From chicken breast to chicken thighs, I’ll show you how to create the tastiest chicken dinners in a snap.
Greek Sheet Pan Chicken: This sheet pan chicken is one of my top recipes for a reason. You’ve got juicy marinated chicken roasted with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, olives, and crumbled feta – all in one sheet pan.
One Pan Chicken And Rice: This one-pan dish shines bright with Mediterranean flavors, juicy chicken thighs, and citrusy rice.
Butter Chicken: With a handful of spices, I’ll show you how to make the best butter chicken that simmers in the most velvety curry sauce.
Cilantro Lime Chicken: Whisk together cilantro, lime, spices, and a touch of honey to turn chicken thighs into sticky sweet, cilantro lime goodness.
White Chicken Chili: This one-pot wonder is a hearty chili that swaps in white beans and chicken, for a switch-up you’ll love.
Honey Mustard Chicken: You’ll love this addictively delicious, sticky sweet, and savory baked chicken!
Turmeric Chicken and Rice Casserole: Turmeric adds a warm, curry-like flavor to this chicken and rice casserole. A clever way to enjoy more turmeric.
Chicken Meatballs: These baked chicken meatballs served with homemade chimichurri sauce are the best easy dinner and meal prep idea for the week!
Exciting Ground Beef Dinner Ideas
Don’t overlook that pound of ground beef sitting in your freezer. It cooks fast, makes for hearty meals, and can be stuffed or layered into the most comforting, freezer-friendly, easy dinner ideas.
Best Chili Recipe: There’s always a time and a place for a big pot of beef chili. Plus, it’s super easy to make and great for meal prepping!
Zucchini Lasagna: This zucchini lasagna tastes just as good as the original, plus it’s loaded with extra greens!
Stuffed Peppers: I’d say stuffed peppers are a family favorite, so make a double batch to store some in the freezer for later.
Taco Soup: Enjoy your favorite taco flavors — all in one soup! And yes, this is a great pantry-friendly recipe.
Zucchini Noodle Spaghetti Bolognese: Made from fresh tomatoes and ground beef, homemade bolognese sauce is the best. And to keep things light, zucchini noodles are the perfect match to complete this “pasta” meal.
Fresh and Light Seafood Dinner Ideas
The options are seemingly endless when it comes to seafood for dinner — there’s salmon, flakey baked cod, juicy scallops, and of course tasty little shrimp. Bonus, you only need a few simple ingredients to make each of these seafood options taste amazing!
Baked Cod: This easy, foolproof method guarantees perfectly flaky fish baked in the best garlic butter herb topping.
Salmon Salad: This creamy salad has it all – flaky baked salmon, crisp celery, red onion, radishes, and fresh herbs, tossed in the best lemony dressing.
Scallops With Citrus Ginger Sauce: The best way to dress scallops is with this easy citrus ginger sauce!
Dijon Baked Salmon: This is one of my go-to salmon recipes for dinner. The Dijon herb spread is incredibly tasty and the salmon comes out perfectly moist and tender.
Garlic Grilled Shrimp Skewers: After soaking in an herby, garlicky marinade, these grilled shrimp taste amazing with just about any side dish.
Orange Glazed Salmon: Coated in the best citrusy sweet glaze, these salmon fillets are guaranteed to be a weeknight favorite.
Salads for Dinner That Honestly Keep You Full
Don’t think a salad will keep you full? Think again! These recipes are loaded with greens, delicious proteins, and healthy fats.
Ultimate Chicken Salad: You can enjoy it straight out of the bowl (like I do), add it to a sandwich, or wrap it in butter lettuce leaves. So much versatility!
Salmon Avocado Salad: Top pan-seared salmon on a bed of leafy greens, avocado, tomatoes, and red onions for the best salad ever.
Broccoli Salad: This is the best combination of creamy and crunchy ingredients. Bonus — it stores well for the week!
Veggie-Heavy Vegetarian Dinner Ideas
Sometimes, the best dinners revolve around plant-based ingredients and loads of veggies. Perfect for meatless Monday, or truthfully, any day of the week!
Very Best Lentil Soup: A blend of lentils, kale, mirepoix vegetables, roasted tomatoes, and herbs creates this delightfully filling and flavorful soup.
Zucchini Fritters: These crisp and golden fritters are a must-make when it’s zucchini season!
Zucchini Noodle Caprese: An easy, homemade pesto basil sauce goes far in this salad. Just toss with tomatoes, mozzarella, and freshly made zucchini noodles.
Ultimate Vegetarian Chili: this flavorsome, veggie-heavy chili is just what you need for a filling vegetarian dinner idea. Plus, it’s great for meal prep.
The Best Dinner Meal Prep
To wrap up these dinner ideas, I’m circling back to my meal prep guide where ingredients themselves become the star of the show. Because nothing makes us feel more on top of our game than prepping grains, proteins, and veggies to create mix-and-match dinner recipes that come together in under 5 minutes!
You can make macro bowls, wraps, tacos, salads, or a simple combo plate. And don’t forget sauces and toppings for flavor and freshness. Add a dollop of hummus to a Mediterranean bowl or guacamole and creamy salsa to tacos.
Start with a Base
- Grains: white rice, mexican rice, or cilantro lime rice.
- Vegetables: broccoli rice, cauliflower rice, cilantro lime cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, or leafy greens.
- Tortillas: Cassava flour tortillas
Add in Protein
- Meats: slow cooker pulled pork, carne asada, or roast chicken and this slow cooker whole chicken (that can be turned into shredded chicken).
- Seafood: garlic butter shrimp or plain shrimp.
- Vegetarian: lentils, chickpeas, or black beans.
Add in Vegetables
- Roasted Vegetables: roasted brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, or roasted butternut squash
- Sauteed Vegetables: garlic ginger bok choy, sauteed cabbage, green beans with shallots and lemon, or sauteed swiss chard.
- Fresh Greens: coleslaw, vinegar coleslaw, or a massaged kale salad.
Mix and Match Dinner Ideas
With your prepped ingredients, here’s a few ideas on how to combine them into the BEST dinner recipes!
- Tacos: pulled pork street tacos, carne asada tacos, or shrimp tacos with cilantro lime bacon slaw.
- Salads: pulled pork, cabbage, and arugula salad, warm sweet potato noodles, cabbage, and lentil salad, or mediterranean chickpea salad.
- Bowls: similar to my carnitas burrito bowl, start with a base and layer on your favorite protein and vegetables.
- Zoodles: zucchini noodles with chicken, spinach, and parmesan, Mexican chicken zucchini noodles,
If you make any of these easy dinner recipes, let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below. And for more meal inspiration, check out the best healthy breakfast ideas!
50+ Best Easy Dinner Ideas
- 1 ½ pounds salmon
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 375°F. Then place the salmon on a parchment-lined baking tray and set it aside.
- Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and generously coat the top of the salmon.
- Bake the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes (depending on size and thickness), then slice it into individual portions and serve immediately.
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Recipe roundup originally posted December 2020, but updated to include new recipes.