If you’re in a dinner rut on busy weeknights, these 25 dinner ideas will be just what you need to get excited about supper time again!
For those of us busy moms (and dads) who feel like life is crazy, getting a quick & healthy family dinner on the table can be somewhat of a challenge.
Add to that kids’ sports and activities, dinner time can sometimes feel impossible!
Because, with kids sports, you know that you have to devote several hours, multiple days a week after school and work for practices and games.
Between the picking up, getting them outfitted, dropping them off, watching them, cheering them on, taking the pictures, socializing with the other parents, and driving them back home, there really isn’t much time to prepare a quick & healthy dinner.
So I did my research on the internet, in my cookbooks, and even with my fellow frazzled sports moms, and found 25 dinner ideas that are perfect for weeknight meals.
Each of these dinner ideas offer a multitude of easy dinner recipes that you can plan for in advance so that the answer to that dreaded question ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ is solved.
25 Dinner Ideas
Of course, fast food comes to mind very quickly on sports/activity nights.
But being parents and role models, we all know that it’s best to curb the fast food habit and get a little more creative with our quick dinner options.
Keep in mind, you’ll need to prepare in advance for the week, but it will be well worth it!
In addition, if you put in that extra effort upfront, you’ll be getting dinner on the table fast every weeknight!
1. Foil Dinners – Healthy Dinner Ideas
Just as it sounds, a foil dinner is one where you put all of the ingredients in a nicely folded piece of tin foil and bake in the oven.
And the result is a juicy, delicious, quick & healthy dinner.
This Foil Pack Salmon Recipe (pictured) is super quick and easy to make and comes out amazing!
Six Sister’s Stuff does a great job of rounding up 30 Delicious Tin Foil Dinners.
In addition, this easy weeknight dinner is super healthy and is very quick to prep.
2. Rotisserie Chicken – 25 Dinner Ideas
Pre-made and ready to eat rotisserie chickens are actually very good!
Most grocery stores carry already-cooked rotisserie chickens, ready for you to stop in and pick it up.
Serve this roast chicken, along with a salad and some french bread and you’re meal is complete!
Spaghetti is probably the easiest and quickest recipe you can make.
Throw in some already prepared meatballs and parmesan cheese, add in a quick salad and some sliced ciabatta bread and you’ve just provided your child the sustenance he or she needs to play hard.
4. Homemade Fish Sticks – 25 Dinner Ideas
These Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks from MyRecipes.com, made with halibut, a popular white fish, look amazing!
Serve these up with some quick steamed broccoli and rice and you’re good to go!
LOVE me some goulash!
My Mom used to make goulash when I was a kid.
To me, it was the best thing ever because it was a meal in a bowl.
Serve it with a salad or some other veggie that your child likes, throw in an applesauce chaser, and you can still get your kid to the field on time.
Here’s a Classic Goulash recipe from AllRecipes.com
6. Chicken Pot Pie – 25 Dinner Ideas
This Willow Tree Farm Chicken Pie is my favorite brand of pot pie.
They sell these pot pies in New England (where my husband’s family is from), so we usually bring a cooler whenever we visit so we can bring back a bunch of these pot pies!
In addition, they used to sell them locally at Walmart and Weis, but for some reason they stopped selling them at either of these places.
Therefore, I checked their website and found that they now sell them at Whole Foods and BJ’s.
So if you’re at either of those places, grab a bunch of them!
Along with a side of rice and some corn, this pot pie will have your entire family satiated.
Just make sure you divide the crust up evenly!
My family fights over that crust.
7. Bento Box Meals
Bento boxes are very cleverly sectioned boxes that you can buy for your kids lunches.
Basically any sectioned, preferably covered container will work.
I found a whole slew of bento box containers on Amazon, some are disposable and some are reusable.
Prepare them in advance and throw them in the car with your kid.
Here’s a great roundup of 23 Easy & Adorable Back-to-School Bento Box Lunches from Parade.com.
Yes, I know it’s more of a lunch than a dinner, but it’s a great way to get some healthy, satisfying food in your kid’s belly before game time.
8. Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Meals – 25 Dinner Ideas
Sometimes I forget that if I prepare in advance, I can have a delicious meal all ready for me and my family whenever we’re ready to eat it.
Slow cooker or instant pot meals are just the ticket!
And, if you’re in the market for a new slow cooker your best bet is to shop on Amazon.
9. Parchment Recipes
This is similar to the Foil Dinner idea but using parchment paper instead of tin foil.
Everything is tossed together into the parchment paper and stuck in the oven to cook.
I found a roundup of these delicious looking parchment paper recipes on BuzzFeed.com.
You can also find Healthy Parchment Paper Dinners on FoodNetwork.com
10. Fast Food – 25 Dinner Ideas
If all else fails and you didn’t get a chance to prepare something in advance, you still can go to a fast food restaurant and order something healthy.
WebMD published a list of 21 Healthier Fast-Food Meals.
Print this out and keep it with you in your car for whenever you’re on the run.
11. Sheet Pan Meals
Oh my gosh, where have these meals been all my life?
Recently, I found some Old Bay Sausages from Aldi and thought, how can I make these quickly with little cleanup?
This is when my Sheet Pan Sausage & Veggies recipe was born!
The beauty of a sheet pan meal is that you can substitute whatever veggies you happen to have on hand:
- Bell Peppers
- Red Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- White Potatoes
- Sweet Potato
Just cut them up and mix with a little olive oil, garlic powder and paprika and place them on a baking sheet with your sausages!
12. Homemade Pizza – 25 Dinner Ideas
I know, when you hear the word, “homemade” you hear “too much time”!
So, what I should say is semi-homemade because you’re going to spend way less time by not making the dough!
On the contrary, you’ll use either store-bought dough OR already-made pizza dough your favorite pizza restaurant!
That’s how I made this absolutely delicious Maryland Crab Pizza recipe.
Add some fresh basil right after you take it out of the oven and it’s SO good!
13. Dinner Salads
Yes, a salad can pass as dinner!
Especially when you add lots of protein like lean meats, legumes, and cheeses.
A great example is this Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad with Fresh Spinach & Balsamic Dressing.
I add sliced up grilled chicken that we have leftover from our Sunday grill night.
Also, this Big Mac Salad (pictured above) is amazing and I promise you will not miss the drive-thru line at McDonald’s.
Plus, it’s way healthier than the traditional Big Mac!
14. Tacos – 25 Dinner Ideas
As long as you do your chopping and cutting ahead of time and store it all in airtight containers in the fridge, making tacos is as simple as preparing the meat and warming up the shells.
And as this recipe demonstrates, tacos aren’t just for ground beef!
These Shredded Chicken Tacos are full of flavor, with the most tender chicken – a healthy alternative to the traditional taco recipe.
Serve it buffet style so that each person can add their own sour cream, shredded cheese, lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and taco sauce.
15. Lettuce Wraps
Lettuce wraps, like these Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps, aren’t just for those of us on a keto or low carb diet!
They’re also a great way to make your dinner mobile.
Kind of like a sandwich but in a lettuce vessel, these wraps are quick and easy for those on-the-go weeknights.
16. One-Bowl Meals – 25 Dinner Ideas
I love me a good one-bowl meal like this Shrimp Dirty Rice recipe!
One-bowl meals are so enticing, not just because they look so good but also because of the quick and easy cleanup!
This Couscous Bowl with Meatballs & Tzatziki (pictured) uses frozen meatballs you just pop in the oven.
Sprinkle some fresh herbs, like parsley on top and it’s so yummy!
The word casserole just conjures up lots of cutting and assembling.
But it doesn’t have to be that way on a crazy busy weeknight!
If you practice meal planning a week in advance, you can do all the chopping, cutting and even some assembling all at one time.
Then when it’s time to prepare your weeknight dinner, most everything is done except for the heating up part.
This Chicken Green Chile Enchilada Casserole is one of my all-time favorite casserole recipes!
The filling is made of cooked chicken cut up into bite size pieces and a creamy sauce made from cream of chicken soup.
Also, you can use low carb tortillas to keep the carb count down.
18. Soups – 25 Dinner Ideas
Soups, like this Maryland Cream of Crab Soup (pictured), are an awesome way to plan dinner in advance.
Make it on the same day (ideally on a Sunday if you work during the week) that you’re doing all of your batch chopping.
Then when it’s time to eat it for dinner, all you have to do is heat it up on the stovetop or even in the microwave and serve with some sliced bread.
In my opinion, sandwiches get a bad wrap!
See what I did there? Wraps are sandwiches, right?
Anyway, just like lettuce wraps, sandwiches are so ‘mobile friendly’ and can get the job done (getting your sustenance) quickly.
Slap some lunchmeat, sliced maters, and cheese on 2 slices of bread or a tortilla and you’ve got yourself a meal!
However, if you want to get a tad bit fancier, you can make these incredible Crab Melts (pictured) with lump crab meat, mayo, lemon juice, celery, red onion, and Old Bay Seasoning.
Or make these Paninis with Pesto, Mozzarella and Pine Nuts. So Good!
20. Breakfast for Dinner – 25 Dinner Ideas
Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner?
In my book, as long as you’re getting a good amount of protein and some veggies thrown in there, go ahead and make it!
I LOVE these Eggs in a Muffin Tin for this exact reason.
Sprinkle a little bit of your favorite hot sauce and serve with a side of sliced tomatoes for a wonderfully satisfying meal!
Also, this Quinoa Breakfast Scramble Recipe would totally fit the bill.
21. Mason Jar Meals
Have you ever had a layered salad in a mason jar?
The science behind this method is to order your ingredients a very specific way so that everything stays fresh and doesn’t get soggy.
Then, once your mason jar salads are prepared and placed in the refrigerator, they will stay fresh for up to 5 days!
This particular layered chickpea salad recipe is absolutely amazing!
22. Chili – 25 Dinner Ideas
Who doesn’t love chili?
And when you’re having a busy weekday that’s gone into a busy weeknight, heating up a nice big bowl of chili with all the fixins is right up my alley!
If you’re not a traditional red beans and ground beef kinda chili person, there are SO many other ways you can make it, like this amazing Simple Vegetarian Chili Sin Carne recipe (pictured).
The flavors in this recipe are amazing, with delicious ingredients like:
- Black Beans
- Sesame Oil
Another chili that I absolutely love is this White Chicken Chili, which calls for chicken broth, chicken, cannellini beans (white beans), lots of spices, and green chile peppers. Mmm!
23. Sloppy Joe’s
So, I gotta admit, by the time I got to numbers 23 through 25, I was struggling coming up with dinner ideas.
Therefore, I took to Facebook and asked my readers for some suggestions.
A few people recommended sloppy joes.
How did I not think of this?
Sloppy Joes are a good, hearty meal idea that you can throw together quickly!
24. Meatloaf – 25 Dinner Ideas
Another fantastic dinner idea is meatloaf.
I’ve always loved me a good meatloaf!
It’s the epitome of good comfort food.
As a matter of fact, I’ve never met a meatloaf recipe I didn’t like.
However, I am very partial to my mother-in-law’s meatloaf recipe which doesn’t call for tomato sauce.
This recipe is a family favorite and one that I make a lot in my household served with a side of green beans and mashed taters!
Coincidentally, I’ve never made it for the blog, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’m going to put it on my to-do list.
25. Beanie Weenie Night
Finally, dinner idea #25 is “Beanie Weenie Night” as my husband calls it.
He likes to pan fry the hot dogs in melted butter until they’re browned on the outside.
Then, he toasts the hot dog buns.
You can either add the beans directly on top of your hot dog in the bun, or serve them on the side.
Either way, it’s a 5 to 10 minute preparation for a hearty, quick meal.
Lastly, bookmark this blog post for those times when you just can’t even think straight and you need some delicious dinner ideas.
Or post up a weekly dinner schedule and include some or all of these ideas.
And if you need more quick & healthy dinner ideas here’s a great cookbook, Everyday Dinners: Real Life Recipes to Set Your Family Up for a Week of Success (Amazon).
Because when you’re in the throes of sports activity pandemonium, it’s a challenge to come up with something on the fly.
Okay, now let’s play ball! (or soccer, or tennis, or lacrosse, or track, or music lessons, or………….)
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