Even though Simply Recipes editors love to cook, we know the struggle to get weeknight dinners on the table as well as the rest of you. We’re equally crunched for time, balancing our family’s schedules, and tired at the end of the day. So we have a handful of recipes we turn to because we know they’ll never let us down. Some come together in less than 30 minutes, while others rely on pantry staples or the odds and ends lurking in our refrigerator. All are heavy hitters around our kitchen tables.
1. Vegetarian Pad Thai
“My husband and I both love Thai food, but we don’t have a great takeout spot nearby. Luckily, homemade pad thai is surprisingly easy!” says Recipe Editor Laurel Randolph. This recipe is salty, sweet, and tangy and tosses crispy tofu into the mix for added protein. “I switch out the veggies for whatever I have on hand and I often halve the recipe, leaving one serving for lunch the next day.”
2. Cast Iron Skillet Pizza
Yes, homemade pizza can absolutely be a weeknight affair when it’s this easy-to-love skillet pizza. “I stopped making pizza at home any other way. The cast iron is the only way I can ever get a crispy crunchy crust,” says News & Features Senior Editor Myo Quinn. In the name of speed, opt for store-bought dough. Just let it come to room temperature on the kitchen counter first to make it easier to stretch.
3. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
This 30-minute meal is as colorful as it is satisfying, so don’t just save it for Taco Tuesday. “My boyfriend and I live next to Homestate, which is home to the best flour tortillas in Los Angeles. We regularly buy them by the dozen and use them for easy taco nights. I usually do some vegetarian taco situation for dinner with black beans and all of the toppings,” says Editorial Director Ariel Knutson.
4. Spinach Mac and Cheese
“I am endlessly amazed by the amount of spinach that I am able to cram into this creamy, delicious mac and cheese!” remarks Associate General Manager Emma Christensen. You’ll use a full three boxes of thawed and drained frozen spinach to make it. Or, try swapping it for thawed and drained frozen broccoli florets roughly chopped.
5. Dobu Jorim
“With sliced fresh cucumbers and a side of rice to sop up the amazing sauce, this Korean braised tofu recipe is a quickie dinner that beats most meals that take twice as long to make,” says Senior Editor Sara Bir. Even better is the fact that leftovers don’t even need to be reheated, as dubu jorim is just as tasty at room temperature, which means it’s well worth doubling the recipe to enjoy for lunch through the week.
6. Salmon with Brown Sugar Glaze
What’s special about this particular salmon recipe is it feels equally at home on the weeknight table as it does at a dinner party. Serve it with sautéed spinach or crispy broccoli to make it a meal. “The combination of Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and honey is magical,” declares Myo. “My 8-year-old was not a salmon person, but this sweet and savory one converted him.”
7. Easy Pasta with Winter Greens
“I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I wrote this recipe for a reason,” says Laurel of her silky, emerald-hued pasta made with over a pound of good-for-you greens. “I make it all of the time! It comes together quickly, the recipe is flexible, and it’s super vibrant in color and flavor. It’s a great way to clean out the leaves wilting in your crisper drawer.” That means you can switch up the Swiss chard and use whatever you’ve got on hand, be it spinach, kale, or collards.
8. Kai Jeow
This classic Thai omelet gets its unique balance of salty-sweet-hot flavors from a combination of fish sauce, brown sugar, and Thai chili and is best served over rice with raw vegetables for crunch. “We never have omelets for breakfast at my house because they’re so handy and filling for dinner. I make this version a few times a month because the salty-spicy flavors are so invigorating, all for so little work,” remarks Sara.
9. Chicken Fried Rice
“Whenever I have leftover rice, I make this recipe. It is quick, easy, and satisfies everyone at the table,” says Emma. This comforting dinner comes together in 25 minutes flat and leaves you with very few dishes to clean. “Swap the chicken for shrimp, tofu, or any leftover protein in the fridge. And don’t skip the 5-spice powder! It’s the secret to restaurant-worthy fried rice!”
10. Quick Easy Fish Stew
It would be remiss of me not to include my weeknight favorite. This cozy stew is deeply flavored thanks to a humble bottle of clam juice. Since I am a family of two, I make the full recipe of the soup base but divide it in half. I add 3/4 pound of firm white fish fillets to one half for dinner that night and freeze the other half of the soup base for a future easy dinner. Just thaw it, bring to a simmer, and add your fish.