Back to School! It’s back to making lunchboxes, school lines and after school activities. We are back-and-forth to two different schools and two different after-school sports for both girls.
It’s exciting and new, but it all sounds exhausting again, doesn’t it? It sure does to me.
The last thing Trevor or I want to do after a long day is cook a big dinner. So, I decided to put this list together of my 10 favorite FAST and EASY weeknight dinners. They don’t have that many ingredients. They are easy prep and cook fast (they all take 30 minutes or less!!). There are a mix of different cuisines to make dinner more exciting and not boring like it can be. And most importantly, these are kid (and adult!) tested, so I know your families will love them!
So, what are you waiting for?! Take a look below and let me know which one is your favorite in the comments below. If you click the link under each recipe, it’ll take you back to the original recipe, many of which have tips and notes!
Happy eating, friends!
#1 Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
Ground Turkey Pasta Bake
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1/4 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked (I used rotini)
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced
- Fresh basil & parsley, to serve
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large oven-safe saucepan, warm oil over medium heat. Add ground turkey and cook until halfway cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and meat is mostly cooked, another 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, cooked pasta, and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Top with mozzarella and bake in oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Top with basil and parsley to serve and enjoy!
#2 Chorizo Street Tacos
Chorizo Street Tacos
- 1 chorizo sausage link, casing removed and meat crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 4 corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoons onion, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Optional toppings for serving: avocado, black beans, lime, queso fresco, sour cream, radish
- Mix chorizo and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce together in a bowl.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; add chorizo mixture and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer chorizo to a plate, reserving grease in the skillet.
- Heat tortillas in the reserved grease in skillet over medium heat until warmed, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Stack 2 tortillas on top of each other for each taco. Fill with chorizo, onion, and cilantro and top with any toppings you desire. Enjoy immediately!
#3 Honey-Lemon Chicken Tenders
Honey-Lemon Chicken Tenders with Herb Salsa
- 1 cup orange pepper, diced
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons, divided
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons honey, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- Mix pepper, spinach, pistachios, shallot, and parsley in a medium bowl. Stir in zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon each oil and honey and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss the chicken with cornstarch in a large bowl until well coated.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, flipping occasionally, until lightly browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees, 4 to 8 minutes.
- Combine the zest and juice of the remaining lemon and the remaining 1 tablespoon honey in a small bowl. Add to the pan and cook, turning the chicken to coat, until it’s glazed, about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve topped with the herb salsa. Enjoy!
#4 Five-Ingredient Fish Cakes
5-Ingredient Fish Cakes
- 1 pound white fish, any kind
- 3/4 cup panko
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon Old Bay
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and black pepper
- Cooking oil or spray
- In a large pan, cook white fish until flaky (cook time will depend on type of fish – I used tilapia and it took 8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Once cooled, place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients together with a fork, breaking apart the fish, until evenly combined.
- Portion mixture into patties, about 2 tablespoons each.
- Coat the bottom of a large skillet with cooking oil or spray and heat to medium-high. Fry fish cakes in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove from heat and serve with your favorite dipping sauce and extra lemon slices. Enjoy!
#5 Thai Peanut Chicken
Thai Peanut Chicken
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced or left whole
- 3-4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- Juice of 1 lime
- Steamed rice, for serving
- Roasted peanuts and Persian cucumbers, for serving
- Toss the chicken with the 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste, the ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil. Let sit 5 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining Thai red curry paste, the basil, and the cilantro.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the coconut milk, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup water. Partially cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the peanut butter and lime juice. Simmer until thickened, about 2-3 minutes (there will be a lot of sauce).
- Serve the chicken and sauce over rice. Top with roasted peanuts, cucumbers and an extra drizzle of sauce. Enjoy!
#6 Lemon-Garlic Air Fryer Salmon
Lemon-Garlic Air Fryer Salmon
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, with skin
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
- Cooking spray
- 3 thin slices lemon, cut in half
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, combine melted butter and minced garlic. Brush with butter mixture and sprinkle with lemon-pepper seasoning and parsley.
- Spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray. Place salmon fillets in the basket, skin-side down, and top each with 3 lemon halves.
- Cook in the preheated air fryer for 6-8 minutes*. Remove from the air fryer and let rest for 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
#7 Crispy Black Bean Quesadillas with a Cilantro Lime Sauce
Crispy Black Bean Quesadillas with Cilantro Lime Sauce
Cilantro Lime Sauce
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/8 cup water
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 cup sour cream (or 1/2 large avocado if dairy-free)
Black Bean Tacos
- 1 (14 ounce) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup of salsa, any kind
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- Small flour tortillas
- Olive oil, for frying
- Blend all ingredients in the cilantro lime sauce until smooth. Set aside.
- In a food processor or chopper, blend the beans, salsa, and taco seasoning. Transfer to a skillet with a drizzle of oil and cook it up long enough to soften the flavors of the garlic and / or onions in the salsa. About 5 minutes is fine.
- Spread a few tablespoons of black bean filling into a flour tortilla. Fold in half. Repeat until the filling is used up (about 6-8 tacos).
- Heat some oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat. Fry in a skillet over medium heat, until crispy and golden brown. Dip in cilantro lime sauce and enjoy!
#8 Beef & Veggie Stir Fry
Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry
- 1 tablespoon oil, any kind
- 1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
- 3 cups of mixed vegetables, chopped
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Sesame seeds, to garnish
- In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat and add vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook until just tender, about 3-5 minutes.
- Move vegetables to one side of the pan, and add steak strips in. Cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Pour sauce over the top, toss to combine and serve topped with sesame seeds, if desired. Enjoy!
#9 Corn & Coconut Soup
Corn & Coconut Soup
- 5 ears yellow corn (or about 4 cups frozen kernels)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (1/2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 small potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
- Kosher salt, to season
- Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape the cobs so that all of the milky juices collect in the bowl and the cobs look completely dry, like wrung-out sponges. Alternatively, if using frozen, use straight from the freezer. Set aside.
- In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic, And ginger and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved corn kernels and juices to the pot, and sauté until the corn is softer and brighter, about 3 minutes more.
- Add potato pieces, and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Now, pour in the vegetable broth (add in an extra 1/4 of broth if using frozen corn kernels) and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender all the way through.
- Use an immersion blender to roughly purée the soup, so that it’s creamy with some kernels of corn and chunks of potato remaining. (Alternatively, ladle about half of the soup into a blender, blend until smooth, and return to the pot.) Season with lime juice and salt, and mix to combine.
- Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice. Enjoy!
#10 Sautéed Shrimp Salad
Pan-Sautéed Shrimp Salad
- 6 ounces mini shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3/4 cup Boston lettuce
- 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped
- 1/4 cup black olives
- 4 strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons Everything But the Bagel seasoning
- Toss the shrimp, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the shrimp mixture, and cook until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Layer your plate with the toppings beginning with the Boston lettuce, followed by cucumbers, olives, strawberries, and pecans. Add shrimp and top with seasoning. Drizzle with remaining teaspoon of olive oil and enjoy!