11 Simple Dinner Ideas

Cacio e pepe

New beginnings often inspire us to try on new behaviors. Many of us like to start off a new year by eating healthier. However, lasting change requires preparation. If you haven’t mastered the art of meal planning, you could find yourself at dinner time with a ravenous appetite and nothing to eat. This often leads to eating whatever is easiest and not necessarily healthiest, such as fast food, pizza delivery, etc. 

Knowing you may lack the kind of time and energy required to cook elaborate meals, here is a list of 11 simple dinner ideas to help you stay on track without much fuss.  

  • Simple Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with cheese and pepper). 

Cook one pound of thin spaghetti. Before draining, scoop out and reserve 1 cup of cooking water. While spaghetti is still hot, toss with 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, 3 Tablespoons butter, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon ground pepper, 1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese, and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water and mix well adding more hot pasta water to make it creamy. Serve with pre-washed gourmet salad mix from a bag topped with canned, drained chickpeas and Italian dressing. 

  • Rotisserie Chicken Tacos.

Grab some corn tortillas and top them with shredded bagged cabbage, rotisserie chicken meat, and bottled taco sauce. 

  • Turkey Burgers. 

Mix 2 pounds ground turkey, ¼ cup ketchup or BBQ sauce, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons. garlic powder or 4 cloves chopped garlic, 2 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.  Form into patties and grill, serve with bun, condiments, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese, and bottled blue cheese dressing. 

  • Tandoori Chicken.

In a large ziploc bag, combine ½ cup Tandoori paste with ¼ cup plain whole fat yogurt. Add 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cutting so that no piece is larger than 4 inches, and shake the bag to coat well.  If time allows, marinate for one or 2 hours, otherwise grill or broil for 4 minutes on each side.  Serve with naan or pita bread, chutney, sliced cucumber, and optional lemon wedges to squeeze over everything.  

  • Sauteed Shrimp and veggies with rice. 

Saute 1.5 pounds frozen cooked, shelled shrimp, 2 cups frozen rice, 12 ounces frozen broccoli, and 2 chopped cloves of garlic over medium to high heat in ¼ cup olive oil adding water to prevent burning for 8 to 10 minutes or until everything is warmed through and combined.  No need to defrost ingredients ahead of time! 

  • Sheet pan chicken and veggies.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut 1 pound of raw chicken breast, 2 cups yukon gold potatoes, 3 carrots, and 1 cup brussels sprouts into 1.5” chunks. Place in a large ziploc bag, add ¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil, 2 Tablespoons of curry powder, 1 Tablespoon Maple syrup, 1 Teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.  Seal bag and shake to combine.  Spread on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and cook for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. 

  • Pan-roasted Salmon with Teriyaki Sauce.

Defrost frozen salmon in a microwave in a covered dish with 2 Tablespoon of added water, then drain; or roast salmon in the oven at 400 degrees F for 14-18 minutes depending on the thickness. Top with Teriyaki sauce.  Defrost frozen quinoa or rice and enjoy with mixed salad drizzled with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

  • Boxed soup (lentil, minestrone, butternut squash, tomato). 

There’s nothing easier than heating up some prepared soup and enjoying it with fresh crusty bread or toast. 

  • Steak, sweet potato, and veggies.

Sprinkle both sides of a flank steak then broil or grill for 4 minutes on one side then 3 minutes on the second side.  Cover and allow to rest 10 minutes before eating.  Top with steak sauce. Enjoy with a sweet potato pierced several times with a fork and cooked in the microwave for 5 minutes (if it’s not yet soft, continue cooking for 30 seconds at a time checking firmness along the way – it should be slightly soft); you can split the potato down the middle and season with a dab of butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Accompany with steamed asparagus.

  • Pork loin with veggies. 

Cut pre-marinated pork loin into 2” chunks and saute in vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Cook frozen corn on the cob according to package directions. Prepare mixed green salad with honey mustard vinaigrette. 

  • Kimchi Fried Rice (or plain fried rice).

Whisk together 3 eggs and fry in 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan until cooked, break up into small pieces, and set aside. In the same pan, heat 12 ounce of kimchi including the liquid over medium high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, add the rice, and break up the rice and stir so that the kimchi and rice are mixed together.  Add the cooked egg and stir. Then add 3 Tablespoons soy sauce and 2 Tablespoons sesame oil and stir.  Enjoy! 

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