Courtesy of Katie Truman, Happy Money Saver
Looking for a dinner recipe? How about 50? These delicious meals are homemade food at its finest. From a classic pan of lasagna and spaghetti carbonara to Asian-inspired lettuce wraps and easy enchiladas, we've compiled the ultimate recipe guide for simple weeknight dinners that are perfect to cozy up at home with.
Sometimes, the best Italian food is simple Italian food and is there anything more simple than spaghetti tossed in tomato sauce? And when you take the time to make your own homemade marinara, it’s a different experience altogether. The key is using ripe tomatoes, high-quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves and fresh cloves of garlic. It’s a solid weeknight meal you'll want to make over and over again.
Tacos are delightful in their original format, but it’s easy to mix it up for a family. This Mexican dinner recipe takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and has all the taco flavors in a casserole. Top with whatever you like, but definitely don’t skip the crunchy tortillas.
An Instant Pot is great for making comforting meals when you’re short on time. This vegetarian chili has sweet potatoes, which typically take much longer to cook but are fork tender in less than 10 minutes when cooked on high pressure.
This tried-and-true recipe for the “creamiest, cheesiest” mac and cheese will not dry out as you’re getting ready to eat. The trick is a combination of sharp cheddar and colby jack, a generous pour of heavy cream and chicken broth in the sauce. You can also add some of these unexpected ingredients that go great with mac and cheese to take it to the next level.
A classic grilled cheese sandwich is one of the easiest things to make, and it’s delicious no matter what meal you make it for. With thick white bread, American cheese and a combination of butter and mayo for the ultimate golden crunchy exterior, you’ve got everything you need for a divine sandwich or two (or three). And the best part? You can make 20 different versions with these mouthwatering spins.
Pair this silky tomato basil soup with a grilled cheese sandwich for a comforting weeknight or even weekend dinner. The savory flavors of roasted garlic and fresh basil and a sprinkle of salty Parmesan cheese make this made-from-scratch soup rich and deeply satisfying. To make this recipe vegan-friendly, simply substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and when it’s time to add the cream, either omit it completely or add a splash of coconut milk.
Cauliflower gnocchi is one of the Trader Joe’s products that customers love the most. Super simple to make, just saute them from frozen with a generous drizzle of olive oil and pair with your favorite marinara sauce. But in this baked version, you roast the frozen gnocchi before layering the sauce and cheese and baking it all again until it’s bubbly and delicious.
This noodle bowl can be made in just 20 minutes, which is way quicker than waiting for your Thai takeout order to arrive at your door. The peanut sauce relies on soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil for those unbeatable Asian flavors.
You might think chicken pot pie is complicated to make at home, but even if you don’t have a store-bought crust or puff pastry on hand, it’s surprisingly easy. This hearty classic is bursting with chicken, potatoes, peas, carrots and onions tossed in a creamy filling. You can also save some time during prep by using rotisserie chicken and mixing the shredded pieces right into the gravy.
Even without sports, you can still make these game day staples at home. A trendy air fryer makes chicken wings that are crispy and tender without all that frying grease. This recipe requires only a few basic ingredients: chicken wings, salt and pepper, garlic powder, olive oil and your favorite wing sauce.
Chicken Parmesan, or chicken Parmigiana, is a quintessential Italian dish. This slightly lighter take on the classic is made with a chunky, homemade marinara sauce, pan-fried breaded chicken cutlets and thick slices of mozzarella cheese. The ingredients are layered and baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
This grilled cheese sandwich with balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, caramelized onions and brie puts an elegant spin on the regular for a sophisticated and easy dinner. It’s slightly tart from the balsamic vinegar, a little sweet from the caramelized onions, and creamy from the oozing brie cheese. Pair it with soup or salad for a complete meal.
Homemade pizza dough can be time-consuming for a weekday dinner, but you can prepare the dough during the day if you’re home and it’ll be ready to top and bake in the evening. For this flavor-packed BBQ chicken flatbread recipe, toss cooked and shredded chicken in your favorite barbecue sauce, saute some onions and peppers, spread the sauce on a rectangular rolled-out dough and start topping.
You can find good-quality fresh or frozen naan at most major supermarkets that bake up beautifully as a doughy, crispy pizza crust. And to make it even easier, use any jarred tomato sauce and your favorite toppings. You can try a classic Margherita with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, or a pesto pizza with basil pesto, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. These take no more than 15 minutes to make and the options are endless.
Apple and cheddar are a natural pair, and fennel plays well with both. This particular quiche will remind you of cozy fall flavors and is wonderful for dinner with a side of greens.
Yes, you can make chicken Parmesan in an air fryer, too. This recipe is a game-changer and makes flawless crispy breaded chicken without all the oil. Set up a breading station, pour your sauce, shred some cheese and have dinner on the table in under 40 minutes.
This skillet meal is inspired by the warm and sunny flavors of the Mediterranean. With oregano, sun-dried tomato, lemon and more earthy seasonings, this chicken, cannellini beans, tomatoes and spinach dinner takes less than half an hour to make.
If you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals, these buffalo roasted cauliflower bowls are a brilliant way to eat vegetables. Take a store-bought buffalo sauce and douse it over cauliflower florets before baking them. While those cook, cut up some vegetables of your choice, mixed greens and any other salad mix-ins to build your fast and fresh bowls.
This Greek-inspired pasta is a fantastic choice for a summer weeknight. Savory with black olives and sun-dried tomatoes, creamy from the feta cheese and crunchy and green from the spinach, it hits all the right notes. The pasta salad is also a great way to use up pantry staples.
A piping-hot pot of chili — no matter what the regional style — is a great remedy for a tiring day. This instant pot beef chili is super simple to make, and you can add or subtract any ingredients to your liking, including increasing or lowering the spice level. It makes a large serving size, so you can enjoy leftovers.
Enchiladas are a Tex-Mex classic and aren’t too much of a fuss to make at home. With a few grocery store shortcuts like enchilada sauce, you can have a weeknight dinner on the table in a little over 30 minutes. This recipe can also be made vegetarian using sweet potatoes and black beans instead of chicken.
All you need to make a jar of pesto is good-quality ingredients and a food processor or blender. This green garlic and basil pesto has toasted pine nuts and uses green garlic, which is similar to green onions. Once made, pesto can be stored in the freezer for later, used in pastas, as a sandwich spread, in soups and even on pizzas.
This Indian-inspired chickpea curry, which is known as “chole,” is a spicy, flavorful and filling meal all by itself, but with fluffy rice, it’s even better. The traditional flavors of garam masala, cumin and curry powder are a welcome twist to the weeknight dinner rotation.
The best part about this Italian dish is that you probably already have everything on hand. It requires only six ingredients, including eggs and Parmesan cheese, which coat the spaghetti in a luxurious and simple sauce.
This recipe calls for an unusual ingredient — a can of Dr. Pepper soda — one of many unusual meat marinades. You could also use root beer, and both work extremely well to make the pork juicy and flavorful. The end result is pork covered in BBQ sauce and served on a slider bun.
Potato gratin is no longer just a Thanksgiving side dish — it’s worthy of being the main course with this recipe. Rich layers of well-seasoned potatoes, cream cheese, thyme and garlic are doused with heavy cream and topped with crunchy Parmesan bread crumbs.
“Cacio e pepe” means "cheese and pepper" in Italian, and as the name suggests, this pasta dish is pretty simple. With black pepper, grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan), butter and spaghetti, this one is all about showcasing good-quality ingredients. And the one restaurant trick you need to know to make this perfectly each time involves the reserved pasta water, so make sure not to drain the spaghetti once it's cooked.
A toasty pan of lasagna fresh from the oven is bound to cure any weekday slump, and it’s arguably the best comfort food there is. After you cook the ground beef, all that’s left is layering the al-dente lasagna sheets, pasta sauce, meat and cheeses and baking it until it's bubbly all over.
If you want a little more meat and veggie action in your lasagna, try this version with spinach and sausage. It’s the ultimate Sunday night dinner dish and it’s healthy-ish, too.
This is a quick, thrifty and kid-friendly meal and will likely take you back to your own childhood. A rich meat sauce and buttery hamburger buns are the only components of sloppy Joes, and the meat sauce itself comes together in no time using both pantry ingredients and fresh bell peppers.
This vegetarian stuffed tomatoes recipe is a pretty fool-proof homemade dish and can be filled with just about any combination of ingredients — rice, beans, meat or even couscous.
For a refreshing bite that brings textures and flavors, try these Asian steak wraps with crunchy lettuce wrapped around tender steak and silky rice noodles. The quick-cooking skirt steak makes this a fabulous choice for weeknight dinners.
There may be plenty of things you didn't know about french fries, but how to make them doesn't need to be one. Fancy and homemade oven-baked french fries are a perfect side dish for anything, but you can totally eat a plate of these and call it dinner. After seasoning the potato strips with salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil, drizzle with olive oil and scatter small pieces of butter all over the pan. Once they’re baked, top them with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
If you have some spare lemons, use them in this vegetarian recipe from Noodles & Company that is loaded with fresh veggies and topped with a silky lemon cream sauce. You can use pre-made zoodles (which are zucchini noodles) or make your own for a creative plate of plant-based goodness.
Pulled pork tacos are one of the best recipes you can make in an Instant Pot or a slow cooker. They're great for a weekday meal and the cooked meat makes for excellent leftovers.
This recipe won the grand prize at the 2006 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, and the old-fashioned chicken dish is still a winner for dinner. There are a few unconventional ingredients that take this homemade meal over the top: a combination of maple-flavored syrup, peach preserves and Worcestershire sauce. And the spinach stuffing reminiscent of Thanksgiving flavors is a fitting side dish.
Caprese is a popular Italian salad made simply with fresh sliced tomato, creamy mozzarella, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Put those ingredients between two slices of white bread and cook in a pan for a caprese grilled cheese, fantastic for super speedy dinners.
Boxes of pasta are definitely the MVPs when it comes to cooking at home. And even more so when you realize how easily you can prepare a hearty, homemade pasta dish right in your own kitchen using the simplest of ingredients. This one-skillet meal helps cut down on dishes because it eliminates the need for draining the pasta water as both the sauce and dried pasta are cooked in the same pot.
On days when you want a home-cooked meal but really don’t want to stand over the stove stirring, casseroles are the way to go. This baked broccoli casserole requires a can of mushroom soup, cooked rice (which is hands-off anyway), broccoli and lots of cheddar cheese.
Frittatas are an ideal dish to make when you have to multitask and can be a tasty dinner using everyday eggs. Though this recipe uses turnip greens and potatoes, you can use any vegetables you like. Simply whip up the perfect scrambled eggs, saute your add-ins and bake your frittata while you make an optional side salad, finish up work or relax.
Salmon is a terrific source of healthy omega-3 fats, which are especially important for pregnant women. And even if you’re not expecting, the fatty fish is light, flaky and holds up nicely to strong flavors. This sweet and spicy salmon is covered in a brown sugar, chili powder and ground cumin spice rub and then pan-seared until the fish is perfectly charred. It is delicious on a bed of brown or white rice or with a side of greens.
This bright salad with delicate greens, blanched asparagus, green peas, radishes, avocado and cubes of creamy feta is springtime in a bowl. The dressing is a simple vinaigrette made with fresh lemon juice, avocado oil, dill, dijon mustard and red wine vinegar.
A healthy and yummy choice for an effortless lunch, easy brunch or even dinner, this hash is made of bright sweet potatoes, hearty Italian sausage, crispy Brussels sprouts and fried eggs. The pinch of paprika adds just the right punch.
This nutrient-dense quinoa salad is just as good a side dish for the spring as it is a low-calorie, healthy dinner. It is best served chilled, and you can top it off with grilled salmon or lean chicken for extra protein.
This recipe is similar to a classic Louisiana jambalaya with Cajun flavors and spicy chicken sausage. A great southern recipe, if you have an Instant Pot or any kind of pressure cooker, you can make Cajun chicken sausage with fluffy jasmine rice in 30 minutes.
Make an extra batch of these easy turkey meatballs and freeze some for later — they come together so quickly you won’t mind the extra work. You can pair this with spaghetti, eat them on top of soup or just as is with a dipping sauce.
These quinoa burrito bowls are filled with heart-healthy quinoa, chicken sausage and taco add-ins, making them a wholesome yet light dinner. It’s a delicious time-saver for when you’re craving tacos but don’t have the bandwidth to top, layer and fold each individual tortilla or shell. And considering this recipe takes only 15 minutes to put together, you’ll want to make it a regular.
Tender chicken, fresh vegetables and wholesome noodles make chicken noodle soup an ideal home-cooked meal for any day of the week. The trick is making your own chicken broth and adding fresh thyme and parsley for an earthy flavor, and you should aim to make extra to use in other meals throughout the week. This soup also makes an excellent meal that you can make ahead and freeze for a weeknight.
More from The Daily Meal:
20 Brilliant Meal Prep Hacks That Will Save You Tons of Time