Here are 10 simple dinner favorites my family enjoys! I make at least one of these each week and rotate them through my monthly meal plans. Sometimes I’ll fill an entire week up with these meals when life is busy and I need dinner to be extra easy!
I rely on some healthy convenience items from the grocery store to help throw these meals together quickly. I don’t really follow a specific recipe because these meals are so simple and straight forward. They’re the basic meals that most people already know how to make, are fool proof and generally kid-friendly. Even though they’re simple, I have provided some directions below for each meal as well as a list of ingredients. Please adjust or modify to suit your tastes and how many people you are feeding.
Some of these meals have also been featured in a post where you’ll find more photos, details and tips! Click on the photo or title to check them out! (More coming soon!)
1. Beef Tacos served with Mexican style rice and tropical fruit salad
Ingredients: taco shells, ground beef, packet of low-sodium taco seasoning, shredded Mexican style cheese, lettuce (chopped), 1 tomato (chopped), 1 avocado (chopped), microwavable pouch of Mexican style rice, fresh or canned tropical fruit salad (pineapple, mango, papaya).
Directions: Chill fruit salad (ahead of time). Bake taco shells while preparing ground beef, as directed on taco seasoning packet. Prepare rice. Spoon beef into taco shells, top with cheese, lettuce, tomato and avocado. Serve with rice and fruit on the side.
2. Chicken Quesadillas served with avocado, salsa and pineapple
Ingredients: large corn or flour soft tortillas, boneless skinless chicken breasts, avocado oil spray, taco seasoning, shredded Mexican style cheese, 1 avocado, salsa, canned or fresh pineapple
Directions: Use kitchen shears to cut-up chicken breasts into small pieces. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning. Heat a large skillet on medium-high, spray with avocado oil and add chicken. Cook chicken (approx. 5-8 minutes) until no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare avocado (chop into small pieces) and cut pineapple. Spray the bottom of a second large skillet with avocado oil and heat to medium-low. Place a tortilla on skillet and toast approx. 20-30 seconds. Flip tortilla over. Place a large spoonful of cooked chicken on half of the tortilla. Top with a handful of cheese. Fold the other half of the tortilla over, continue cooking, flipping once, until desired. Remove quesadilla and place on a cutting board. Slice into four pieces (triangles). Repeat, preparing as many quesadillas as you’d like. Serve with toppings: avocado and salsa. Serve with pineapple.
Ingredients: boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 tsp grapeseed oil, bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables thawed or fresh cut-up vegetables, sweet and sour sauce (or any other stir-fry sauce), 1 can pineapple chunks drained, package of quick cook brown rice.
Directions: Use kitchen shears to cut-up chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Heat a large skillet or wok on medium-high, coat with 1 tsp grapeseed oil and add vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender (about 5-6 minutes). Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tsp oil to wok and add chicken. Cook chicken (approx. 5-8 minutes) stirring occasionally. Return vegetables to wok, add pineapple and sauce, and simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare rice according to package directions. Serve chicken mixture on top of rice.
4. Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli served with a salad
Ingredients: box of Fettuccine noodles (use about 1/2 to serve 4), jar of Alfredo sauce, boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 tsp grapeseed oil, microwaveable steam-in-bag frozen broccoli, salad mix, salad dressing (vinaigrette)
Directions: Use kitchen shears to cut-up chicken breasts into small pieces. Prepare Fettuccine noodles as directed on package. Heat a large skillet on medium-high, coat with grapeseed oil and add chicken. Cook chicken (approx. 5-8 minutes) until no longer pink in center, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook broccoli in microwave and prepare salad. Add Alfredo sauce (entire jar) to chicken, stir, reduce heat to low and simmer 3-4 minutes until sauce is heated through. Drain Fettuccine noodles and add to a large bowl. Add chicken mixture and broccoli to noodles and stir well. Serve with salad on the side.
5. Spaghetti with Beef Sauce served with a salad and garlic breadsticks
Ingredients: box of angel hair pasta (use about 1/2 to serve 4), jar of Spaghetti sauce, ground beef, shredded Parmesan cheese, salad mix, salad dressing (vinaigrette), frozen garlic breadsticks (or fresh garlic bread)
Directions: Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Cook ground beef, stirring, until no longer pink. Drain the grease. While beef is cooking, prepare pasta and breadsticks according to package directions. Place 1/2 of the beef in a freezer safe container, cool, store in the freezer for next time you make spaghetti. Add Spaghetti sauce (entire jar) to remaining beef in skillet, stir, and simmer until heated. Prepare salad. Serve beef sauce on top of pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with breadsticks and salad.
6. Grilled Teriyaki or BBQ Chicken served with a sweet potato and salad
Ingredients: boneless skinless chicken breasts, bottle of Teriyaki or BBQ sauce, 4 small sweet potatoes, butter, cinnamon, salad mix, salad dressing
Directions: Place chicken breasts in a zip-lock bag and pour desired amount of Teriyaki or BBQ sauce (about 1/2 a bottle for 4 breasts) over the chicken. Shake bag a little bit, to be sure all of the chicken is covered, and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or even overnight. Remove chicken from marinade and discard bag. Place chicken on pre-heated greased grill rack, over medium heat; cover grill. Cook 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally and brushing with additional sauce, until chicken is no longer pink (thickest at 170 F). While chicken is grilling, poke several holes in cleaned sweet potatoes with a fork. Place on microwaveable plate and microwave on Potato setting. At desired doneness, slice potato down the middle and place a pat of butter in middle. Sprinkle potato with cinnamon. Prepare salad and serve.
7. Grilled Shrimp Kabobs served with rice and a frozen vegetable
Ingredients: wooden skewers (soaked in water) or metal skewers, large bag of large or medium shrimp (peeled and deveined, tails on), avocado oil (or vinaigrette dressing), brown rice, frozen microwavable vegetable of choice
Directions: In a large bowl, toss shrimp with about 2 tbsp avocado oil and 1/2 tsp pepper, until evenly coated (or use a vinaigrette based salad dressing or other marinade). Thread shrimp on skewers. Place skewers on pre-heated (medium) greased grill rack and grill, uncovered over medium heat about 2 minutes. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes longer or until shrimp are pink and firm. If using a dressing or marinade, baste a couple of times during grilling. Meanwhile, cook brown rice and microwave frozen vegetable according to package directions. Add a pat of butter to rice and to vegetable. Serve shrimp on top of rice, with vegetables on the side.
Ingredients: hamburger patties, hamburger buns, hamburger toppings (sliced cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, etc.), bag of frozen onion rings (or french fries).
Directions: Bake onion rings according to package directions (this will take longer than the hamburgers!). Pre-heat grill (high), oil the grates and place hamburger patties directly over the heat. Grill 3 minutes, flip, then grill about another 5 minutes for Medium (135-150 F) or 6 minutes for Medium-Well (150-165 F). Add cheese during the last few seconds of grilling. Remove patties to plate, cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile toast buns on indirect heat and prepare hamburger toppings. Serve burgers with onion rings.
9. Baked or Grilled Individual Pizzas
Ingredients: flatbread or naan bread, pizza sauce, shredded Mozzarella cheese, sliced plum tomato, sliced pepperoni (or any other pizza toppings)
Directions: Heat grill to medium-low heat and oil grates. Grill bread for 30 seconds. Remove from grill and add toppings to cooked side. Spread desired pizza sauce, sprinkle with cheese and add toppings. Return to grill and cook 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and bottoms are golden brown. Remove, slice and serve. (Or bake pizza in 425 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.)
Ingredients: sliced bread, can(s) tuna (drained), mayonnaise, lemon juice (optional), sliced tomato, sliced deli cheese, pickle spears, bag of potato chips
Directions: Toast slices of bread. In a medium bowl, mix tuna with mayo and lemon juice, to desired consistency. Line a large baking pan with tinfoil. Place bottom slices of toast on pan. Evenly distribute tuna mixture over toast. Place a tomato slice and a slice of cheese on top of tuna. Broil about 3-5 minutes (keep an eye on them) or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven. Top each sandwich with 2nd slice of toast and press down lightly. Omit top slice of toast for open-face version (fewer calories). Serve sandwich with a pickle spear and potato chips.