7 super easy weeknight dinners that will save you money
Sometimes you’re so tired when you get home after a long day, and the last thing you could possibly do is roll up your sleeves and cook yourself a gourmet dinner. I’ve been there many times. After a lot of lounging around and staring at the fridge, I usually end up ordering takeout. Or just flying through a few packs of crackers while I watch an episode of Shameless. While this may be the easy way out, it’s not the best way to end the day. I end up feeling unsatisfied as I go to bed or sluggish the next morning because of the preservatives and other yucky ingredients that wound up in my belly.
I’m sure this happens to a lot of us busy bees on the regular. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if we didn’t have to wake up early the next morning and start our day all over again. That’s exactly what we have to do, though, so what we eat the night before really does have an effect on how we feel and function the next day. Luckily, it doesn’t take much effort or money to make yourself a lovely dinner that will taste good and make you feel rad, all at the same time. Time to get cooking, my friend.
Here are seven super easy weeknight dinners you simply must try.
1. Quick Chicken Stir-Fry
Chop up half an onion and a few gloves of garlic.
Sauté it in coconut oil on medium heat until translucent and fragrant.
Add in chunks of any chicken of your choice (breast is the healthiest, but I prefer chicken thighs) and some snow peas and shredded carrots. You could actually replace these veggies with whatever you’ve got or whatever you like, like bell peppers, mushrooms, or green beans.
Pan sear it all until the chicken starts to lightly brown, then add in a scrambled egg, a small spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter, a tablespoon of fish sauce, and a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey (trust me, you need this touch of sweetness).
About a minute before it’s done, toss in some fresh herbs, like basil and cilantro. Slap it onto a plate and dig in.
2. Baked White Fish
You’ll love me for this one because you won’t have to wash any pots, pans, or dishes after you’re done.
You start with picking some parchment paper up on your way home from work. In the middle of a large strip, place a small handful of sliced or julienned zucchini, then a piece of sea bass (or any other firm white fish).
Layer on a few thin slices of tomato and lemon. Put some chopped garlic on top, drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Wrap up the fish, stick it in an oven set at 375 F, and bake for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. All you gotta wash is your fork!
3. Fried Tofu Veggie Bowl
There are a few different components to this vegan dish, each of them adding a necessary flavor and texture. The best part is the peanut dipping sauce, and the recipe can be found here.
The dry-fried tofu instructions may sound a bit tedious, but it’s totally worth it. You’ll get the kind of tofu you used to think was only available at your corner Asian restaurant.
Then there’s the roasted Sriracha cauliflower, taken straight from the Thug Kitchen cookbook. Chop up some fresh veggies (like carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce), and layer everything on top of cooked quinoa. Or rice. Whatever. Yum!
4. No-Pasta Pesto
Sometimes you want the comfort of pasta without the food coma that comes after. Here’s a light vegan variation that gives you all the flavors you need without the heaviness that makes you drowsy. Here’s the recipe, which only takes about 15-20 minutes to put together.
I added my own twist of halved cherry tomatoes. Add whatever you like, even Parmesan cheese (if you’re not vegan)!
5. Shiitake Mushroom Quinoa Salad
I have Martha Stewart to thank for this recipe. It’s a lovely combination of warm mushrooms, crunchy quinoa, and creamy cheese. A vegetarian dish like this will make you forget there’s no meat on the menu. Because of my lactose intolerance, I used goat cheese, which I highly recommend. It’s so easy to put together and it makes you feel surprisingly fancy.
6. Pan Seared Barramundi
Good substitutes for barramundi are snapper, grouper, or striped bass. Heat a knob of coconut oil or ghee on a pan on medium high heat.
Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper.
Put the fish in skin side down and cook for a few minutes until the skin starts to get crispy and the sides start to look slightly cooked.
Lower the heat to medium and cover the pan. Let it cook for about 12 minutes, or whenever the middle is just cooked through.
Remove the fish from the pan, put a small scoop of coconut oil in, and toss a few large handfuls of spinach in the still-hot pan. If you really want to get fancy, put some capers in there.
Pour the mixture over the fish and yum it up!
It goes nicely with a salad made of shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and sliced avocado tossed in a balsamic dressing.
7. Tray Baked Chicken
Time doesn’t need to be on your side in order to make a delicious chicken dish on a Monday night. I snagged this recipe from Jamie Oliver. Feel free to swap out whatever veggies you like most. And don’t forget the balsamic vinegar! That’s what gives it that crisp sweetness. If you’re looking for something heartier, add some diced potatoes to the mix. Winner winner chicken dinner!