easy weeknight dinners

29 Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas for a Wholesome Meal

Few things come close to the joy of enjoying a warm, homecooked meal after a hard day’s work. But preparing elaborate meals every single day can be a real chore. What’s even more exhausting is coming up with a new dinner idea every night.

If you’re looking for some easy weeknight dinner ideas to add some excitement to your day, you’re in the right place. From comforting soups and simple pasta to stir-fried veggies and hearty rice bowls, here’s a list of easy-to-prepare, delicious, and healthy dinner ideas you can whip up in minutes.

#1. Farmer’s Market Fried Rice

Highly adaptable, nutrient-dense, and tasty, this farmer’s market fried rice is a perfect weeknight recipe. While the recipe requires an assortment of fresh veggies, you have the liberty to take this recipe in any direction based on the season and the contents in your fridge. Add some shredded chicken to give a protein boost to this simple dish.

#2. Easy Chicken Tostadas

Packed with contrasting textures and vibrant flavors, tostadas are made with crispy fried corn tortillas piled with salsa, guacamole, rotisserie chicken, or any of your favorite toppings. Easy, versatile, and made with nutrient-dense wholesome ingredients, one bite will take you to Mexican paradise.

#3. Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

Full of healthy veggies, juicy chicken, and delectable flavor, this chicken tortilla soup is a soul-soothing meal that will warm your soul. All you need is around 25 minutes of pressure-cooking time or 40 minutes of stovetop cooking. Feel free to make it as spicy as you like, sprinkle some cream and cheese, or keep it dairy-free — the options are endless.

#4. Easy Mac and Cheese

Silky, cheesy, and creamy, mac and cheese is comfort food for many. You can prepare this easy, tasty dish in about 20 minutes from scratch. For some texture, add some crispy golden breadcrumbs or roasted veggies to make it healthier. Have it straight out of the pot or bake it to get a nice crisp layer of cheese on top.

#5. Kung Pao Chicken

This is a fantastic recipe to use up the leftover chicken in your fridge. Tangy, savory, and sweet with just the right hint of spicy, this is a perfect option for a busy weeknight dinner. It’s best served with white rice, and you can refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for about four days.

#6. Simple Cabbage Soup

Incredibly healthy and highly adaptable, this vegetable cabbage soup screams cozy in a bowl. The best part? You can whip this up in about 15 minutes! Feel free to use any variety of cabbage here — red, green, napa, or bok choy. Pop in some shredded chicken or braised beef in the last few minutes of cooking for a hearty meal.

#7. Lentil Soup

This is a protein-rich meal that is hearty, healthy, and smothered in warm spices. It pairs well with warm pita and is a great meal choice for colder evenings. The addition of healthy greens and a squirt of some lemon juice along with some diced fire-roasted tomatoes offers a fresh, bright flavor that’s very inviting.

#8. Easy Baked Ziti

When you’re craving some lasagna but are not in the mood to go through the elaborate process, you can turn to this easy baked ziti. Feel free to add any veggies of your choice to the mix or other meats. Serve with a sprinkling of some chopped parsley, and for an incredibly creamy rich flavor, throw in dollops of ricotta cheese.

#9. One-Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta

On a busy work night, nothing can be more welcoming than an easy one-pot dish you could whip within minutes and happily tuck into. This one-pot Cajun chicken pasta is delicious, comforting, and packed with tantalizing flavors. You also have the liberty to customize this recipe to your liking — spicy, tangy, creamy, or non-creamy.

#10. Baked Salmon with Mango Salsa

A tangy twist on regular salmon recipes, this recipe is a lemony, buttery salmon flakes combined with zingy mango salsa and an exotic mix of spices. Easy to prepare, colorful, and refreshing, this meal will make you feel like you’re dining in an upscale restaurant! It pairs great with roasted veggies, quinoa, brown rice, or even sweet potato fries.

#11. Shrimp and Pineapple Stir-fry

This tropical stir-fry is a heavenly dish — a treat for both your eyes and taste buds. It’s a colorful, tasty, and newbie-friendly recipe that is loaded with veggies like asparagus, bell pepper, carrots, sugar snap peas, and bok choy. Boiled in a thick broth of pineapple juice and soy sauce, it is bound to spice up your weeknight dinners effortlessly.

#12. Chicken Fajitas

With bold colors and bold flavors, this roast chicken fajita is one of the easiest fancy recipes out there and perfect for busy weeknights. While it tastes best with fresh, juicy chicken, you can also use leftover chicken. Serve with warm tortillas, grated cheese, diced tomato, or raw red onion relish. Toppings of avocado slices and sour cream also work great.

#13. Easy Black Bean Chili

Delicious, simple, and filling, this black bean chili recipe is easy to prepare and goes well with most occasions, whether it’s a holiday feast or a quiet night at home. To add some kick to this recipe, sprinkle it with your favorite toppings, or add a few jalapeno slices and just a hint of cayenne pepper for some heat.

#14. Philly Cheesesteak

With this recipe, you can have the classic Philly cheesesteak right in the comfort of your home! Hearty, comforting, and flavorful, this is an easy-to-make sandwich filled with onions, peppers, and melted provolone cheese. If you’re not a fan of onions and peppers, you can substitute them with other veggies or mushrooms.

#15. Steak Fajita Bowls

If you’ve had a long day and are craving something warm and filling, these colorful fajitas in a tasty rice bowl can come to your rescue in a pinch. Sauteed veggies and tender marinated steak over a bed of Spanish rice make for a great meal to tuck into.

#16. Thai Basil Chicken

Delicious and flavorful, Thai basil chicken is an excellent stir-fry recipe you can prepare with staple pantry ingredients. Loaded with veggies and aromatic flavors, this is one of the easiest recipes out there, and will quickly become one of your favorite quick dinners. And when stored in an airtight container, this makes for an excellent leftover meal.

#17. Fried Rice Vermicelli

Made with stir-fried vermicelli noodles, also known as rice sticks or rice noodles, fried rice vermicelli is an innovative Asian dish that’s healthy, tasty, and easy to whip up in a matter of minutes. The fine noodles cooked with chicken, bean sprouts, and garlic in a wok or skillet pair beautifully with the umami sauce.

#18. Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This chickpea salad sandwich recipe loaded with crunchy veggies, herbs, and olives has a briny flavor and is a great vegan spin on a chicken salad sandwich. For some extra texture and flavor, you can top it up with spring onion shavings, spicy mayo, shredded carrots, or even potato chips if you like a bit of crunch in your sandwich.

#19. Pasta Carbonara

Short on ingredients and want something quick to make? This pasta carbonara perfectly fits the bill. Incredibly versatile and tasty, you can have this as a complete meal or serve it with a side salad. If you’re not a fan of bacon, substitute it with broccoli florets or diced bell peppers for a pop of color (and healthy nutrients).

#20. Fasolada

Known as the national food of the Greeks, Fasolada is a white bean soup that is notable for having a very generous drizzling of olive oil. Packed with nutrients and robust flavors, this delicious recipe is easy to prepare and perfect for meatless Monday dinners. Fasolada also freezes beautifully and makes for great leftovers.

#21. Tuna Carbonara

An easy and delicious recipe that you can prepare in about 20 minutes, tuna carbonara uses the simplest pantry ingredients. For a tangy flavor, squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top, and to take the flavors up a few notches, sprinkle some parmesan and chopped parsley.

#22. Monte Cristo Sandwiches

If you’re craving a delicious meal that you can whip up in minutes, these Monte Cristo sandwiches are it. The filling is a gooey mixture of chicken or turkey, sliced ham, cheese, and mayonnaise. Dunk these sandwiches in batter, dip them in crushed cereal mixture, and grill them to crisp perfection. Serve with pickles or a simple salad.

#23. Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

Packed with heaps of flavor and texture, these mouthwatering honey mustard chicken thighs can be a perfect dinner option for a busy weeknight. Simmer long chicken strips in a tangy honey mustard sauce and sauté them with vegetables of your choice. This fragrant and healthy dinner would go great with pasta or brown rice.

#24. Mushroom Risotto

Made with sauteed mushrooms, arborio rice, a dash of white wine, and some freshly grated parmesan cheese, this mushroom risotto recipe is one of the most delicious variations of a typical risotto. Rich and indulgent, this meatless concoction is fancy enough to serve guests yet easy enough for a quiet weeknight dinner.

#25. Mexican Enchiladas

Saucy, cheesy, and filling, these enchiladas offer an amazing burst of flavor while being incredibly easy to make. You can even add shredded beef or chicken to it for the meat-eaters at the table and top it up with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of grated cheese.

#26. Pork Chops and Peppers

Tender cuts of loin pork chops are cooked with nutritious veggies and coated with a delicious mix of Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, theme, and marjoram — this dish would pair beautifully with rice, buttery pasta, steamed asparagus, or green beans. Serve with white wine and fruit salad for a full meal.

#27. Simple Lemon Herb Chicken

This simple, quick, and delicious recipe would be an absolute hit among the chicken lovers at the table. A few pantry staple veggies and spices are all you’d need to whip up this quick meal. It’s best served with some salad and garnished with parsley.

#28. Easy Egg Curry

What’s a versatile, shape-shifting ingredient that makes for an excellent choice for any last-minute recipe? An egg! Depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy, you can substitute chopped tomatoes for pureed ones. This aromatic, flavorful, and spicy egg curry is best served with white rice and garnished with cilantro.

#29. Spiced Indian Chick Peas (Chana Masala)

Love Indian food? This super-satisfying vegetarian curry is loaded with proteins, bursting with flavors, and is bound to take your taste buds for a joy ride. Featuring a healthy mixture of tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, and spices, this recipe will appeal to both carnivores and vegetarians at the table. It’s served best with basmati or jasmine rice.

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.