5 Insanely Easy Weeknight Dinner Ideas
Nutrition / American Council on Exercise

By Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE for the American Council on Exercise (ACE)


After a long day of work or hanging with your kids, the thought of putting dinner on the table can be daunting. If your weeknight dinner routine is in need of a reboot, check out these insanely easy ways to put some sizzle in your supper.


Flatbread Pizza Pizazz

What you put under your pizza matters if you’re looking to streamline dinner. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an Italian chef or make your own pizza crust from scratch. Whole-grain flatbreads make a great base for a quick and healthy dinner. You can also pick up whole-wheat prepared pizza dough in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Try out one of these combos tonight:

  • Barbeque Chicken Pizza with barbeque sauce, cooked chicken breast, red onion, cilantro and shredded jack cheese
  • Cheeseburger Pizza with pizza sauce, cooked ground beef or turkey, sliced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese
  • Tomato Basil Pizza with marinara sauce, tomato slices, fresh basil and shredded mozzarella cheese


Get Your Greens On

Salads aren’t just for lunch anymore. A well-crafted salad makes an excellent entrée and can be put together in mere minutes. To make a delectable dinner, try to incorporate a variety of greens as the base, beans or meat for protein and, of course, as many vegetables as you can manage. Try these super salads out for one of your upcoming suppers:

  • Asian Inspired Steak Salad with Napa cabbage, shredded carrots, slivered almonds, sliced cooked steak and teriyaki dressing
  • Chicken Kale Caesar Salad with massaged kale, cooked chicken breast, shredded parmesan and soy-based Caesar dressing
  • Chopped Garden Salad with chopped lettuce, garbanzo or kidney beans, diced bell pepper, jicama and oil and vinegar dressing


Stir-fry Sensation

Stir-fry or skillet meals are an easy way to incorporate a lot of produce and a little protein served over a whole grain. If you don’t have a wok, a large frying pan will also work. Use a small amount of oil with a high smoke point (such as peanut or avocado oil) to get things going. Brown up tofu or your meat of choice and add snap peas, sliced carrots, bell peppers and baby corn. Stir in a light sauce and enjoy atop any of these whole grains:

  • Cooked brown rice
  • Cooked edamame noodles
  • Cooked quinoa


Make Ahead Oven Bake

One easy way to master weeknight dinner is to do the heavy lifting on the weekend. Using your Saturday or Sunday to meal prep for the next few days can free up your weeknight space. Prep veggies in individual containers for snacks, put together the components of your lunch and prepare dinners that you simply pop in the oven. Here are a few easy oven bakes you can make ahead on the weekend and set yourself up for weeknight supper success:

  • Steak Enchiladas made with whole wheat tortillas and black beans
  • Eggplant Lasagna Roll Ups with pasta sauce, ricotta, spinach and mozzarella or Parmesan cheese
  • Broccoli Chicken Quinoa Casserole with rotisserie chicken, steamed broccoli, cooked quinoa and reduced-sodium canned cream of mushroom soup


Resurrect Your Slow Cooker

Lurking somewhere in the back of your kitchen cabinet is probably a long-forgotten slow cooker. But it’s time to get that baby out and dust her off, because the slow cooker is your secret weapon for getting out of the weeknight dinner doldrums. Put your slow-cooker supper together before you head out the door, and a delicious aromatic dinner awaits you upon return. There are no shortage of cookbooks and blogs dedicated to the superb food you can prepare in a slow cooker, but here are a few weeknight dinner ideas to get this appliance back in action:

  • Slow Cooker Vegetarian, Beef or Turkey Chili
  • Slow Cooker Marinated Tofu with Green Beans and Brown Rice
  • Slow Cooker Dijon Chicken with Potatoes


This article was orginally published on the American Council on Exercise (ACE) website. To view the original article in its entirety, and to get even more nutrition and fitness tips, click on the "Learn More" link below!

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