Is it just me, or will this week just.not.quit?
That’s not to say things are going badly – but I spent most of Wednesday convinced it was Thursday (only slightly embarrassing) and frankly, I feel like I’ve earned the right for today to be Friday. So close, and yet so far.
Working late, enduring beltway traffic, and getting home after 6:30 inevitably means that cooking an ornate meal just isn’t gonna happen. But let me be clear: being short on time and energy does not mean your meal is doomed to be short on flavor. In fact, these kinds of weeks are the perfect excuse for me to reevaluate, utilize, and add to my go-to stash of quick and easy dinner recipes.
Rather that surrendering to quesadillas or noodles with marinara after a long day at work, I’ve been trying to get a little further outside-the-box lately when it comes to weeknight dinners. Having said that, god knows I won’t be abandoning my tried and true time-saver recipes any time soon.
Below is a mix of old favorites and new ideas when it comes to quick, satisfying dinners:
- Roasted Mushrooms via Cup of Jo (pictured above) - to quote the author, “The original recipe is intended to serve four as an appetizer, but halving it makes for a perfectly satisfying and respectable solo dinner.” Um, sold. Add a glass of chilled white and some crusty baguette to sop up the deliciousness, and we have ourselves a meal.
- Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza via Cooking Light – I’m a firm believer in time savers like pre-made pizza dough (cough Trader Joe’s cough). With that in mind, this recipe is nice and quick, and still manages to keep things interesting and delicious, with minimal prep.
- One Pot Pasta via Martha Stewart – This one is a go-to recipe for me, considering I always always always keep a stash of pasta in my pantry and broccoli in my freezer. These are all nice, simple ingredients I virtually always have on hand, and the preparation is lightening fast – plus, the presence of broccoli takes care of the guilty conscience factor. (Bonus!)
- One Dish Tuscan Skillet via Our Family Eats - Sometimes, I just need to shake things up a bit. (Don’t we all?) I tend to get stuck in a pasta rut when I’m short on time and inspiration, and this provides a nice alternative while still featuring the lovely balance of lean protein, veggie, and, well, some starch for the soul. And one pot to wash? You stole my heart with that one.
- Prosciutto, Apple, and Hazelnut Dinner Salad via Real Simple - Generally speaking, I really, REALLY lack creativity when it comes to salads, which means I rarely make them. Having said that, this combination of salty, crunchy, a hint of sweet sounds like a winning combination to me. While I don’t generally have hazelnuts on hand, I keep a stash of pine nuts and/or walnuts in my freezer, which would also be delicious here.
- Meatballs with Garlic Bread via Martha Stewart – Need I say more? Nothing like a little comfort food to end a long day. I’ll be honest – I make this one a lot, though I rarely (if ever) make my own meatballs. Trader Joe’s carries frozen turkey meatballs, which are super flavorful, wallet friendly, and can be ready in no time. Throw in a slice of garlic bread with a hearty mixed green salad, and voila! Dinner is served.
What are your go-to weeknight meals? How do you mix things up when you’re in a creativity rut, and short on time?