Fast, simple, and totally delicious.

By Kelly Vaughan
August 19, 2020
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Thai Curry Shrimp Linguine
Credit: Kate Sears

After a full day of work, every home cook's goal is to get dinner on the table for themselves or their family in a flash. Instead of ordering takeout or skimping on flavor and nutrition, you can prepare a fast, simple, and delicious dinner any night of the week with these clever ideas.

Prep Ahead

Roasting vegetables, cooking brown rice, preparing homemade marinara sauce—there are a number of recipes you can make over the weekend and use throughout the week. Prepare our All-Purpose Tomato Sauce, which comes together in less than one hour and can be used in this speedy Pork-Meatball Skillet Bake, our 30-minute Spiced Indian Shrimp, or spread over dough for homemade pizza.

Editor-at-large Shira Bocar is a big fan of preparing grains like bulgur, freekeh, farro, and barley in advance and using them throughout the week. You can use pre-cooked bulgur in this recipe for Romaine with Snap Peas, Bulgur, and Shrimp (which also saves 15 minutes of cooking time) or use pre-cooked farro as the base for this springtime Grilled Asparagus and Farro Salad. She also pre-chops vegetables like bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers, which her kids snack on while she prepares dinner or she arranges into this Greek-Taverna Salad, the perfect family-friendly grazing board.

Use Last Night's Leftovers

If you made a big batch of chili, you can repurpose it in three different, delicious recipes—try our Skillet Chili Nachos, serve it over polenta with vegetables, or mix it with rice and spooned into bell peppers for a savory twist on stuffed peppers. Another multi-purpose recipe is our Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey-Chipotle Glaze, then serve them as a healthy side dish or tucked into tacos as your main course.

Make Use of Slow- and Multi-Cookers

Slow-cookers have been popular for decades due to their ability to cook crowd-friendly meals in one-pot over the course of several hours. Slow-cooker recipes usually require minimal prep work and the meal is ready to be served by dinnertime, which makes them perfect for weeknight suppers. Craving barbecue? Try your hand at making these flavorful Slow-Cooker Vietnamese Baby Back Ribs or a total classic—Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork. You can then use pulled pork for sandwiches, wrapped up into tacos, or garnished over nachos.

In more recent years, the Instant Pot has become just as popular; from basics like yogurt and mashed potatoes to complete meals like a Shrimp Boil and Chicken Curry, you can cook a full meal that doesn't require a ton of time, prep work, and clean-up.

30-Minute Meals

In a pinch? Get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less with these speedy recipes. For pasta recipes, you'll love our Prosciutto Carbonara with Spinach, this eye-catching Red Wine Pasta, or this 20-minute Pasta with No-Cook Puttanesca Sauce. Craving more protein? Try this healthy Curried Lentil-Salmon Salad or takeout-inspired Beef and Broccoli with Black-Bean Garlic Sauce.

45-Minute Meals

If you have a bit more time on your hands, these 45-minute recipes are easy, breezy, and sure to hit the spot. This Thai-Curry Shrimp Linguine gets its creamy sauce from coconut milk and green curry paste, which also adds warmth. Two other fast and flavorful dishes are Chicken-Teriyaki Noodle Bowls and Baked Fish with Summer Squash.

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