17 Easy Weeknight Dinners For When You’re In A Pinch

Last updated: June 4th, 2024

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Don’t know what to make for dinner? Turn to this list of 17 easy weeknight dinners for delicious dishes that are perfect for when you’re in a pinch.

Uh oh – it’s dinner time. Again. And it feels like you’re stuck in a never-ending loop, trying to figure out what to make, when you barely had enough time to go grocery shopping this week.

Sound familiar? 

We know this feeling all too well, and we bet you’ve been there, too! When you’re in a pinch and can’t think of anything to make for dinner, what is there to do? Sure, you can always turn to the old “breakfast for dinner” trick or order takeout. 

But what if you could make a legit, delicious dinner – for yourself, for two of you, or for the whole family – without needing a ton of time, effort, or special ingredients? It may sound impossible, but we promise it’s not. At least not with these 17 easy weeknight dinners you can make in a pinch. From rice bowls to pasta to vegetarian enchiladas, we’ve got you covered next time you need inspiration for easy weeknight meals!

Mediterranean chicken and rice with hummus and pita

1. Mediterranean Chicken & Rice

Marinated chicken and rice might already be a go-to weeknight dinner in your house. But try pairing it with homemade hummus (if you have a can of chickpeas lying around) and whole wheat pita for a whole lot of extra flavor without a ton of extra effort! This healthy dinner is a staple in our weekly rotation for its quick and easy method.

Mediterranean Chicken and Rice
4 people
1 hour
602 kcal
Get the recipe
A bowl of spinach tomato pasta with olive oil in a bowl

2. Spinach Tomato & Olive Oil Pasta

Perfect for a night when you don’t know what to cook, or don’t feel like cooking at all. This recipe couldn’t be any easier to shop for – all you need to buy is fresh spinach and tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients are pantry staples! Don’t be fooled by the short ingredients list and quick cook time (only 20 minutes!) – this weeknight dinner recipe is both healthy and delicious.

Spinach and Tomato Pasta
2 servings
20 minutes
363 kcal
Get the recipe
Udon stir fry with vegetables in a serving bowl with chopsticks

3. Spicy Udon Noodle Vegetable Stir Fry

You can never go wrong with a simple stir fry when you need a quick, easy, and healthy dinner for the family. Use whatever fresh produce you have in the fridge, cook up some noodles or rice, and tie it all together with the spicy sauce in this recipe. Keep it vegetarian or add your favorite protein and enjoy a healthy, satisfying, and low-effort dinner.

Spicy Udon Noodle Vegetable Stir Fry
6 servings
50 minutes
447 kcal
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A sheet pan of chicken fajitas with peppers and onions

4. 20 Minute Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

The name says it all – these sheet pan fajitas cook in the oven in just 20 minutes! How’s that for quick and easy? Completely hands-off cooking frees you up to whip up a quick batch of guacamole or pico de gallo… or microwave those canned refried beans that have been sitting in the back of your pantry and call it a night. You do you.

20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
3 servings
20 minutes
200 kcal
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Two bowls of takeout style teriyaki chicken on white rice with sesame seeds and scallions

5. Teriyaki Chicken & Rice Bowls

When you’re craving a satisfying dinner after a long, hard day, nothing beats a savory bowl of chicken and rice. Store-bought teriyaki sauce makes this dish ridiculously easy, so you can have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes or less. This weeknight dinner recipe is for two, but scales easily for feeding a whole family.

Teriyaki Chicken and Rice Bowl
2 bowls
45 minutes
444 kcal
Get the recipe
A plate of shredded chicken tacos with pico de gallo and guacamole

6. Shredded Chicken Tacos

Who doesn’t love tacos? Keep it simple on Taco Tuesday with these shredded chicken street tacos for an easy, kid-friendly weeknight dinner. Make your own guac and pico de gallo for toppings, or pick some up at the store for an even easier night of cooking. The best part about this recipe is that you can serve them DIY-style at the table! Everyone can build their own tacos, which means less work for the chef!

Shredded Chicken Tacos
12 tacos
40 minutes
168 kcal
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A black bean and rice bake in a cast iron skillet topped with sliced avocado

7. Black Bean & Rice Bake

The best easy weeknight dinners let us rely on our pantry – and this recipe is no exception. Grab those canned black beans and rice and get cooking, because that’s already half of what you need to make this simple vegetarian meal! Add a tomato and some peppers to the mix (you can use bell pepper, jalapeno, poblano – whatever’s on hand) and top with fresh avocado for a deliciously easy and cheap weeknight dinner.

Black Bean and Rice Bake
3 servings
40 minutes
602 kcal
Get the recipe
A serving tray of vegetarian black bean southwest sliders

8. Vegetarian Black Bean Southwest Sliders

This slider recipe takes frozen black bean patties and turns them into a fun handheld dinner in just 20 minutes. This is one of our go-to recipes when we’re looking for something super easy, but have had a few too many grilled cheeses and quesadillas and need to shake things up!

Vegetarian Black Bean Southwest Sliders
8 sliders
20 minutes
213 kcal
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A plate of caprese pasta tossed in pesto with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil

9. Caprese Pesto Pasta

Did you know you can use pesto just like a jarred pasta sauce? It makes for a super easy and extremely flavorful pasta dish. Take it a step further and add a simple caprese salad inspired mix of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and you have a fresh and delicious dinner that feels like a fancy night out.

Caprese Pesto Pasta
2 servings
22 minutes
809 kcal
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Two bowls of Thai chicken and veggies with rice and peanut sauce

10. Thai Chicken & Rice Bowls

If you’ve got some peppers, carrots, scallions, and cabbage lying around, you’re in luck – make these Thai chicken and rice bowls for an easy, flavorful weeknight dinner. Use store-bought peanut sauce or make your own to dress these up with, and indulge in a sweet and savory dish that cooks in under 40 minutes.

Thai Chicken & Rice Bowl With Peanut Sauce
4 servings
37 minutes
440 kcal
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A serving of Italian style sausage and peppers pasta on a plate with a fork

11. Italian Sausage & Peppers Pasta

When you’re craving a creamy, decadent dinner but feeling kinda lazy, try this simple Italian sausage and pepper pasta. With just a bell pepper, onion, Italian sausage, canned tomatoes, and a few pantry staples you can have this weeknight dinner for two on the table in under 30 minutes! Be warned: you will be fighting over who gets to enjoy the leftovers the next day.

Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
3 servings
25 minutes
706 kcal
Get the recipe
A vegetarian Mediterranean rice bowl with roasted vegetables, hummus, and tzatziki

12. Vegetarian Mediterranean Rice Bowls

Looking for a new healthy vegetarian weeknight dinner that doesn’t require a ton of effort? All you have to do for these Mediterranean bowls is throw the veggies and chickpeas in the oven and put the rice on the stove. With no hands-on cooking, this recipe lets you get other things done while dinner cooks itself. Plus, it makes plenty of leftovers so lunch (or dinner!) is already prepared for tomorrow.

Vegetarian Mediterranean Rice Bowls
3 bowls
1 hour
635 kcal
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A healthy power bowl with brown rice, black beans, sweet potato, peppers, onion, and avocado

13. Sweet Potato Black Bean Rice Bowls

Although this recipe takes a little more effort than some on this list, it’s 100% worth it. These savory sweet potato bowls are one of our go-to weeknight meals because they’re super nutritious while still tasting decadent. All you need are sweet potatoes, black beans, peppers, onion, brown rice, avocado, and goat cheese – and about 40 minutes of your time – for the most delicious vegetarian dinner you’ll ever try.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Rice Bowl
4 bowls
40 minutes
491 kcal
Get the recipe
Three healthy vegetarian tostadas on a plate, topped with mashed avocado and queso fresco

14. Vegetarian Tostadas

This vegetarian dish only requires 15 minutes to cook the veggies before you’re able to enjoy a fun weeknight dinner that you can easily make for the whole family. Just place the rest of the store-bought ingredients on the table and let everyone assemble their own tostadas. That’s right, you did enough by cooking the veggies – the rest of the family can now fend for themselves.

Vegetarian Tostadas
8 tostadas
25 minutes
251 kcal
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A bowl of burrata pasta with blistered tomatoes and balsamic vinegar

15. Burrata Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes

This 20 minute dinner for two is one of our favorite restaurant-style weeknight meals. Pasta shells with creamy burrata, juicy tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic meld together into a date-night worthy dinner you can just as easily enjoy in the middle of the week! It feels like cheating to get such a fancy and flavorful dinner with so little work.

Burrata Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes
2 people
18 minutes
743 kcal
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Sweet potato black bean enchiladas in a serving dish

16. Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

For an easy weeknight dinner to feed the whole family, look no further than a big dish of these sweet potato enchiladas. Making 14 enchiladas, this recipe easily feeds a crowd or provides you with leftovers for the week. When you’re looking for a satisfying, comforting, and vegetarian-friendly meal, these enchiladas are exactly what you need.

Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
14 enchiladas
1 hour 25 minutes
290 kcal
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A pot of spinach and artichoke pasta with a wooden spoon

17. One Pot Spinach & Artichoke Pasta

Nothing ruins a great dinner like realizing how many dishes you have to do. That’s what makes this one pot recipe so nice: it’s easy to make and easy to clean up. And when you just feel like digging into something cheesy, warm, and comforting after a long day, this recipe will satisfy that craving in under 30 minutes! A quick weeknight dinner and only one pot to clean up afterwards? This dish is a win-win in our book.

One Pot Spinach and Artichoke Pasta
4 servings
25 minutes
520 kcal
Get the recipe

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