Fast Dinner Ideas for Any Night of the Week

Don’t have an hour to spend simmering dinner over the stove or waiting for it to roast in the oven? Who does? Our ideas for are wholesome, almost entirely homemade, and affordable, too—no chicken nuggets, fish sticks, or prohibitively expensive meals here. These speedy recipes all require just 15 minutes or less of hands-on work, and they run the gamut from totally kid-friendly fare (such as our Baked Pecorino Chicken and a simple bowl of orecchiette pasta with broccoli, ground turkey and Parmesan) to more sophisticated dinner party or date-night dishes (Poached Halibut with Green Beans and Red Potatoes or a deceptively simple lamb and spring vegetable stew). You can cycle through Southwestern chili, creamy shrimp pasta, a breakfast that’s equally delicious at dinner, seafood soup, and oven-fried pork cutlets. Or maybe a lineup of curried chicken, steak with roasted vegetables, Caribbean pork tenderloin, bulgur salad, and spicy salmon sounds like a better fit for your family. We’ve got you covered for those busy nights when spending more than 20 minutes in the kitchen just won’t do, and unlike lots of recipes that claim to simplify dinnertime, ours are truly all-in-one meals. Meaning you could toss some bread on the table, if you’d like, but ultimately, we’ve got multiple food groups on each plate and every bowl because, really, who’s got time for multiple courses? Pin this slideshow for later, when you’re finding your go-to menus are getting a little tired.

Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta

Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta
Christopher Baker

Feel like a meal that’s both light and hearty? One that’s got vegetables and protein? Our recipe for Shrimp, Leek, and Spinach Pasta is the answer. While the pasta cooks, sauté the leaks and shrimp in butter. The spinach will wilt naturally when combined with the warm pasta, and a bit of lemon zest adds fresh flavor to the light cream sauce. The kids get a “macaroni and cheese”-like supper, which has not one, but two vegetables stirred in. And the adults get a tasty and easy meal—in just 20 minutes.

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Shrimp With Tomatoes and Olives

Shrimp With Tomatoes And Olives
Anna Williams

This flavorful shrimp dish, served over couscous—a quick-cooking staple that’s an instant time-saver—requires just 10 minutes spent over the stove. And, from start to finish, the supper’s on the table in 20 minutes total. As the grain cooks, you’ll sauté chopped onion, then make a sauce with canned diced tomatoes, green olives, and white wine, before adding the shrimp and simmering the mixture for a few more minutes. Perfect for a fall or winter night whenever the whole family’s dealing with busy schedules—and growling stomachs.

Spicy Salmon With Bok Choy and Rice

Spicy Salmon With Bok Choy and Rice
Raymond Hom

Get a healthy meal on the table in 20 minutes with this smart plan to divide and conquer: While the salmon cooks up quickly in the oven, you’ll cook the rice according to the package directions, make a tasty glaze for the fish—with a bit of honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper—and steam the baby bok choy. Plate the salmon over a bed of rice and next to your green vegetable, and voila.

Chicken, Zucchini, and Prosciutto

Chicken, Zucchini, and Prosciutto
Anna Williams

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! This surprising but oh-so-satisfying meal is on the table in 20 minutes. First, you’ll brown the chicken breasts over the stove before transferring them in the oven to cook through. As they roast, you’ll crisp up the prosciutto, then sauté sliced zucchini with garlic, salt and pepper. (That step only requires a few minutes, as we found that cutting the squash into thin half-moons means they’re ready fast.) Just eight minutes after throwing the chicken in the oven, it’s ready; toss everything together, squeeze some fresh lemon on top—and you’re done.

Baked Pecorino Chicken

Baked Pecorino Chicken
David Prince

A crunchy coating of grated pecorino, bread crumbs, and butter breathes new life into boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. This technique might look time-intensive, but in reality, it couldn’t be easier: Rather than breading each individual piece of meat, you sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the chicken, placed side-by-side in a baking dish. And the best part? While the chicken cooks in the oven, you’ll have more than enough time to whip up a healthful and colorful side of sautéed Swiss chard, or whatever leafy green or other vegetable your family loves.

 

Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Chicken Curry in a Hurry
John Kernick

Wait a minute, you might be thinking. How does curry qualify as a quick dinner? Our hurried-up version uses rotisserie chicken to save time, and the meal’s ready in just over half and hour. Pin this one for later—those nights when you’re craving Indian food but don’t care to order take-out, and you need something on the table, stat. A simple sauce, made with plain yogurt, heavy cream, and a few teaspoons of curry powder, evenly coats the shredded chicken. Add a can of diced tomatoes, too, if you’d like, and serve the dish over rice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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