Easy Meal Ideas for the Week

Publish Date June 19, 2023 4 Minute Read

What’s for dinner? If you’re like many others, trying to come up with unique meal ideas every single night can feel overwhelming, and even frustrating at times. With a little meal planning and organization, figuring out what to make for dinner can be as easy as checking your calendar.

Family Dinner Ideas

Coming up with a go-to list of family-friendly dinners is a good way to start planning. Think back and write down easy meals that are typically met with approval. The pickier the eaters, the more important it is to keep track of meals the whole family can agree upon.

Sausage and Mushroom Pasta Skillet Recipe

This hearty skillet pasta dish is quick to pull together and sure to please the whole family

View Recipe

For some simple family dinner ideas, try using themed nights to keep your schedule on track and put diverse foods on the dinner table. To reduce food waste, consider establishing a “must-go” night, when everyone gets to sample and finish the leftovers accumulated throughout the week. Here’s an example of what a week of meal ideas might look like:

Try a Taco, Pizza or Burger “Bar”

Another way to please a finicky crowd is to give everyone the opportunity to personalize their meal in a way that suits their particular tastes. Set up a “bar” with various toppings, and then give everyone a taco shell, pizza crust or bowl of whole grains and watch the pleasure they take in mixing and matching the perfect meal. These quick dinner ideas aren’t just fun, but they’re also an easy way to get the whole family involved. Here are some ingredients to include in your topping bar:

  • For tacos: lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cheese, sour cream
  • For pizzas: cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, green peppers, black olives For grain bowls: leafy greens, roasted veggies, chicken, avocado, salad dressing
  • For hot dogs: ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, sauerkraut, chili
  • For spaghetti: tomato sauce, pesto, crushed red pepper flakes, dried herbs, grated cheese, meatballs
  • For burgers: ketchup, mustard, relish, cheese, barbeque sauce, bacon

Quick and Easy Meals

For last-minute easy dinner ideas, start with a base that can serve as a blank canvas for your culinary creativity. Some terrific and quick options include:

Pasta: Whip up a quick, fresh tomato sauce or toss it in olive oil or butter, then add any toppings of your choice.

Flatbreads: Easy to keep on hand, these can be tailored to your own tastes. Choose a sauce (pizza sauce, hummus, Alfredo, etc.) and some toppings (meats, greens) and you’re good to go.

Sandwiches: One or two slices of bread and some fillings of choice keep things easier than ever. Layer on the meats, veggies, sauce or homemade condiments, or you can even stuff your sandwich with leftovers – the possibilities are endless.

Meal Prep Ideas

Plan ahead by cooking a little bit extra on one night, then enjoy a revised and transformed version of that item on nights to come. If you’re cooking beef, for example, you can make a slow cooker pot roast one night, then use the leftovers in enchiladas the next night. Make dinner easier by prepping the veggies during your lunch break. Or, with a little extra effort on Sunday, you can have an entire week’s worth of meals prepped and ready to cook as needed. For more meal prep ideas, check out our 5 Days of Meals and easy meal planning solutions.

Better-for-You Meal Ideas

Supporting your nutrition goals is easier when you have a meal plan. Choose recipes that include at least three different food groups and emphasize lean meats, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. A few of our favorite dietitian-approved dinner recipes include Greek Chickpea Foil Packets, Grilled Tilapia Tacos, Orange Citrus Chicken Breast and Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza.

More Easy Meal Ideas