Originally I had this blog post planned as a way to share some of my favorite easy dinner recipes with couples who were overloaded with work, wedding planning, and everything in between. Given the current unexpected circumstances with the COVID-19 outbreak, it seems a whole lot more of us are at home and fending for ourselves in the kitchen. I’m seeing an awful lot of posts on Instagram where people are lamenting not knowing how to cook. That’s part of what this post was about! It’s not only for helping busy people but also those who aren’t as familiar with more complicated cooking techniques. As the grocery stores start to restock this week it is my hope you’ll find these recipes helpful and comforting. Stay safe and well everyone!
Adulting is hectic enough as it is, and incorporating wedding planning into your routine can sometimes become completely overwhelming. Eating well is an important part of self-care, but when you’re feeling burned out meal planning can easily become neglected. You might find yourself spending WAY too much money on going out for dinner or eating junk food.
To help lighten your load, I’ve compiled 6 easy dinner recipes (including a free downloadable shopping list) to save you time and keep you well-fed while you tackle your ever-growing to-do list. Whether you’re a seasoned cook, or you have no idea where to start in the kitchen, these recipes are sure to become longtime additions to your weeknight meal repertoire!
Each of these recipes will require you to have a full kitchen with an oven and stove, so if you’re working out of a kitchenette with only a microwave, these won’t be any help. Even if you’re new to cooking, or not confident in the kitchen, this collection of recipes will have you impressing your mother-in-law to be in no time at all!
Be sure to download the free meal planner and grocery list below! One is filled out for you with everything for these recipes and there’s a blank version too if you prefer to make your own!
Now on to the good stuff!
Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple
This is one of our absolute favorite recipes to make. It’s got just the right combination of sweet and heat and even if you’re new to cooking, this is an extremely fast and easy recipe to impress dinner guests with!
Tools needed: Baking Sheet, Three large bowls, one small bowl, Measuring spoons, tongs, Cutting board, chefs knife
Nice to have tools: pineapple corer, avocado tool, citrus squeezer/juicer
Here’s the link to the instructions: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/shrimp-tacos-with-pineapple
Side options: I love serving this with a side of warm pinto beans, topped with crumbled cotija cheese and a Dos Equis lager.
Pro tip: Ditch the pre-ground pepper and iodized table salt! Invest in a good pepper grinder, peppercorns, a salt cellar, and kosher salt (like Morton’s or Diamond crystal). It may seem like a small change but it does make a difference!
Roast Chicken with Spring Vegetables
This recipe is one of my classic go-to’s when we’re having guests over and I’m not sure what to make. The ingredients are ridiculously simple, but every.single.time. I’ve served it, at least one person comments on how flavorful it is. Everything is cooked on one baking sheet, so the logistics of both the cooking AND the cleanup are a snap. I definitely recommend this one if you’re brand new to cooking.
Tools needed: Sheet pan, chefs knife, cutting board, large bowl, measuring spoons
Pro tip: Pasta water = liquid gold. NEVER rinse your pasta, the starches in the water help the sauce stick to your pasta and keep it from drying out. Always save a little of your pasta water before you drain it, just in case you need to add a little before serving.
Pasta with Sausage and Arugula
This is what I make for my mother-in-law! If you’re having the parents-in-law and siblings-in-law over and need to impress this large group of hungry people, this recipe is definitely recommended! It’s basically a complete meal all on its own; It’s filling, savory, and looks absolutely beautiful on a plate.
Tools needed: Rimmed baking sheet, large pot, cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, zester/fine grater
Beef Taco Lettuce Wraps
“Could this recipe be any easier to make?” – That’s me, doing a shameful impression of Chandler Bing as I assemble these for a weeknight dinner. Seriously though, it’s like the easiest one I have here, just go try it or maybe have your little brother make it while you keep reading…
Tools needed: Can opener, chef’s knife, cutting board, measuring spoons, non-stick pan, small bowl, whisk, large bowl
Pro tip: High quality extra virgin olive oil is worth the investment! Not everything labeled EVOO is actually extra virgin and it can affect the flavor of your food. 😱🤯 I highly recommend California Olive Ranch brand, it’s relatively affordable, a trustworthy brand, and it tastes great!
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Lots of Kale
Your little brother could probably make this one too! An easy and interesting twist on garlic pasta. So fast and easy, plus it’s pasta, aka a warm hug for your tummy.
Tools needed: 2 Large pots, liquid measuring cup, tongs, colander, chef’s knife, cutting board, wooden spoon
Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon
I’m pretty sure it was this recipe that made me fall in love with my cast iron pan… Amanda Frederickson (the creator of this recipe) is a professional chef who I randomly found on Instagram and I became obsessed with her weekly “Fridge Foraging recipes” where she makes up weeknight meals with whatever she’s got in the fridge. Fridge Foraging became such a big thing that there’s even a Facebook group where her fans can share their latest creations and swap ideas. DEFINITELY worth checking out!
Tools needed: Large cast iron, cutting board, chef’s knife, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons
Nice to have: Citrus squeezer/juicer
Side options: Mashed potatoes OR steamed green beans (or asparagus) with a small squeeze of lemon, a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper