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20 Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas That Make Meals in Minutes

If “what’s for dinner?” is the last thing you want to think about after a long workday, these 20 quick and easy dinner ideas are made for you!

 

When it comes to food, quick and easy usually means “dirty” and greasy too, but these 20 recipes have it all.

They don’t require much in the way of time, money, ingredients, or cooking skill…but they’re packed with enough flavor and nutrition to satisfy even the pickiest “clean eater.”

For example, check out the Fast & Healthy Chicken Parmesan, with whole-wheat breadcrumbs, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan if you want a lean, delicious dinner.

Or get a taste of summer with Hawaiian Sloppy Joes, which offer a fresh take on the classic by making it teriyaki-style, with fresh ginger, pineapple juice, and soy sauce. Take it to the next level by using ground turkey, and topping with pineapple slices and red onion.

Enjoy!

Fast & Healthy Chicken Parmesan

Serves 4

The easiest weeknight dinners that we all know and love aren’t always the leanest. Luckily you can update the ingredients to make a nutritious version of classics like chicken parm.

This recipe still has bread crumbs (but whole-wheat), fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. But the focus is on the chicken breast, which makes this meal more protein than anything else.

You can keep the calories and carbs down by serving up this Italian chicken on top of zucchini noodles.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

344

Calories

37 g

Protein

13 g

Carbs

16 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/4 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.)

1 1/2 cups creamy vodka tomato sauce (or marinara of choice)

4 slices fresh mozzarella

2 zucchinis, spiralized or sliced into noodles

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Grilled Fish Tacos

Serves 4

Fish tacos are a real treat when you’re going out to your favorite Mexican place, or even better when vacationing by a coastline. But they’re actually pretty easy to make in your own backyard. Marinate a few filets of white fish, and fire up the grill.

This recipe may seem complicated, but keep in mind you don’t have to make the corn slaw and avocado cream sauce. Salsa verde, guacamole, and veggies will also make a delicious topping for fish tacos.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

378

Calories

23 g

Protein

35 g

Carbs

17 g

Fat

Ingredients

Fish Tacos:

1 lb. thick white fish (cod, mahi-mahi or halibut)

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1 tsp. jalapeno, finely diced

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of ground cayenne

8 corn tortillas

Grilled Corn Slaw:

1 ear corn, grilled (or frozen corn kernels)

2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup shallots, chopped (about 1 medium)

1 Tbsp. jalapeno, finely diced (about 1/2 medium chile)

Juice of 1/2 lime

Avocado Cream Sauce:

1/2 avocado

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Hot sauce to taste

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Baked Chicken Breasts with Black Bean Rice Pilaf

Serves 6

By broiling chicken breast for about five minutes per side, it’ll get a great sear on the outside so it stays juicy as it finishes baking in the oven. As it roasts to perfection, you’ll have about a half hour to make a side dish like this black bean pilaf.

Keep in mind, however, that brown rice will take a while longer to cook. If that’s what you’re using to get those complex carbs, expect to increase the cooking time by about 20 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

613

Calories

53 g

Protein

41 g

Carbs

27 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. lime zest

2 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground ancho chile peppers

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. ground coriander

6 bone-in chicken breast halves (about 4 lbs.)

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Salsa to serve

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Grilled Barbecue Chicken & Vegetables in Foil

Serves 4

If you’re afraid of overcooking meat on the grill, there’s one easy kitchen tool you can use. Aluminum foil is an excellent way to prepare any kind of meat with veggies because putting everything in a packet helps retain the moisture.

All the ingredients you put in will steam to a tender finish while you kick back and enjoy a beer or glass of greens, if that’s more your style.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

289

Calories

35 g

Protein

17 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4 oz. each)

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1 zucchini, sliced into thin rounds

1 bell pepper, cut into thin strips

8 asparagus spears

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Oven-Baked Honey Lime Chicken Tacos

Serves 5

To make a quick taco dinner, you probably use a skillet. But there are other ways to prepare a tasty taco filling, such as slow-cooking a pork roast or baking chicken breast.

These oven tacos start with shredded chicken, which you can cook by roasting, boiling, putting it in a Crock Pot – or just grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the store.

Mix in seasoning, drizzle on a touch of honey, and squeeze the juice of a couple limes over the top. Fill taco shells, and bake until the cheese is melted.

For more Mexican flavor, top with cotija or queso fresco instead of pepper jack.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

478

Calories

38 g

Protein

39 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

3 large chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each), cooked then shredded

1/2 Tbsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup pure honey

1/2 cup freshly lime juice

10 corn tortilla shells

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded pepper jack cheese

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Hawaiian Sloppy Joes

Serves 8

When you think of sloppy Joes, the sauce that comes to mind is usually tomato with a hint of barbecue. However, a lot of flavors can be integrated into the basic sandwich, like this teriyaki-style sloppy Joe with fresh ginger, pineapple juice, and soy sauce.

There’s so much going on that you can use ground turkey without anybody at the table missing the beef. These sandwiches are good as is, or you can go the extra mile and top with pineapple slices and red onion.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

320

Calories

22 g

Protein

38 g

Carbs

9 g

Fat

Ingredients

6 oz. center-cut bacon

20 oz. extra-lean ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. minced fresh ginger

3/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. hickory liquid smoke

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

1/3 cup pineapple juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 whole-wheat burger buns

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Apricot Roasted Chicken with Beets

Serves 4

If you’re turned off by the earthiness of beets, you might be surprised that they can be a natural source of sugar. Cook them right – as in a simple oven-roasted preparation – and you’ll taste the sweetness of this root veggie.

The addition of apricot jam helps to further tone down the bitter flavor of the beets and create a savory-sweet roasted chicken dinner.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

501

Calories

38 g

Protein

36 g

Carbs

26 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 small carrots, peeled and chopped

2 large beets, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

2 large fennel bulbs, cut into 8 wedges, tops removed

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup apricot jam + 2 Tbsp. warm water

1 whole chicken (about 3 lb.), split

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Chili Chicken, Kale & Quinoa Casserole

Serves 8

Think casserole is limited to the few versions your mom made when you were a kid?

Reconsider the variety of ingredients that can be mixed together and baked in a deep dish – that’s all a casserole is, after all. And it’s a really convenient way to cook, especially if you start with shredded chicken.

First make the quinoa on the stove, and once drained, mix in the kale so it cooks down a bit from the heat of the grains. Then mix in all the other ingredients, setting aside enough cheese to sprinkle on top. Since the chicken is precooked, this only needs to be in the oven for a half hour.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

371

Calories

27 g

Protein

39 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa

3 cups cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded

1 can (14 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups corn kernels

6 kale leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)

1/2 cup sliced green onions (plus more for garnish)

1 cup low-sodium salsa

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

3 cups (12 oz.) Mexican cheese blend, divided

Jalapeno peppers to taste

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4

Lettuce doesn’t have much flavor, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a boring lunch or dinner. With this Sriracha-spiced chicken filling, even eaters who avoid salad will want to get in on this appetizer-turned-entrée.

This recipe is inspired by the Asian lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s, but these have less fat and more flavor than the original. In fact, you’re getting the same amount of protein that’s in a whole plate of restaurant lettuce wraps, only with half the fat and fewer calories.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

335

Calories

35 g

Protein

17 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. ground chicken

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger

1 tsp. Sriracha (or more to taste)

1 can (8 oz.) whole water chestnuts, drained and sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 head butter lettuce

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Quick Coq au Vin

Serves 4

A traditional coq au vin can take over an hour to simmer – not to mention the day or two required to marinate the meat.

If you use chicken breast instead of a rooster, you can cut down the time because it’s already tender. Then you can get the French coq au vin flavor by cooking the chicken with red wine, ideally a Syrah from France, and sautéing mushrooms and shallots.

Since chicken breast isn’t as flavorful as dark meat, you can use bacon to add a rich element.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

442

Calories

47 g

Protein

15 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 oz. each)

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided

8 oz. large cremini mushrooms, halved

8 large shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

4 tsp. all-purpose flour

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Baked Risotto with Peas, Asparagus & Pancetta

Serves 6

To make a risotto, you have to stand at the stove stirring the rice until the liquid reduces and your arm is exhausted, right? Not when you use this method, preparing it in on the stove using a Dutch oven and then letting it finish in the oven.

The trick is to pull the risotto out before it’s fully cooked. For the last few minutes, stir in vegetables, butter, Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

422

Calories

17 g

Protein

45 g

Carbs

18 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. butter, divided

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup green peas

1/2 bunch thin asparagus stalks, cut into 3/4” pieces (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan (plus more to serve)

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Lasagna Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Serves 2

It might be hard to believe, but all the delicious parts of a lasagna – including Italian sausage – are just as easy to layer on top of a mushroom as in a casserole dish. And this way, you can enjoy the flavors of the comfort food without any pasta.

Portobellos are sometimes referred to as the steak of the vegetarian world, so no doubt this is a filling dinner. Remove the stem, top the massive mushroom cap with sauce, and finish with cheese.

This is also a great dinner-for-one and is especially convenient if you have a toaster oven.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

352

Calories

22 g

Protein

17 g

Carbs

22 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 large Portobello mushrooms caps

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 link hot Italian sausage

6 Tbsp. pasta sauce

3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta

1/2 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

2 cloves garlic, roasted and smashed

1/4 cup (1 oz.) grated mozzarella

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Slow Cooker Spicy Pepper Beef

Serves 6

If you have a slow cooker, you should also have a freezer stocked full of shredded meat – or the makings of a tender roast at the ready. The only problem with using a Crock Pot is that you need to have your wits together in the morning to get everything in there on time.

The trick is to toss all the ingredients in a plastic freezer bag, and then you won’t have to do anything but dump dinner in the slow cooker and turn it on.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

394

Calories

36 g

Protein

33 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 lb. boneless beef chuck shoulder roast

4 banana peppers (mild or hot), seeds removed and sliced

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced

1 cup beef broth

6 whole-wheat burger buns

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Ginger Chili Fish Stir Fry

Serves 4

Stir-fry is a go-to dinner for nights when there’s barely time to think about dinner let alone cook it. Yet you’re probably tired of chicken and beef every night.

Fish is just as quick to cook, and if you choose a mild fish like tilapia or cod, it can be paired with any of your favorite Asian stir fry sauces. This recipe uses a simple combo of ginger, garlic, mild chili pepper, and sesame oil.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

258

Calories

29 g

Protein

5 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 mild chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

2 white fish fillets (about 8 oz. each), deboned and skin removed, cut into 2” pieces

Salt and white pepper to taste

1 medium carrot, sliced

1 cup baby bok choy, washed and roughly chopped

1/4 cup garlic chives (or green onion), sliced in 2” sections

2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder

1 tsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. sesame oil

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Chickpea & Sausage Minestrone

Serves 6

A classic Italian soup, this minestrone is bursting with savory flavor thanks to the inclusion of spicy sausage. It only takes one link to make a robust minestrone, although you can double it if you want more protein.

But it’s not necessary to add more meat to make a filling soup because there’s plenty of veggies: onion, carrot, celery, and tomatoes. And whereas most minestrones use white beans, this one has chickpeas for more nutrient density.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

197

Calories

12 g

Protein

27 g

Carbs

5 g

Fat

Ingredients

3/4 cup dry small shell pasta

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 link hot turkey Italian sausage, casing removed

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 can (15 oz.) unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

4 cups unsalted chicken stock

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

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Sautéed Shrimp with Artichokes

Serves 4

This one-skillet dinner will feed four people in under a half hour – and that’s including the prep work, which is only peeling the shrimp, mincing garlic, and opening a couple cans of pantry goods.

The actual cooking time is under 10 minutes since shrimp are quick to cook. Serve with rice, quinoa, or roasted veggies to make this a more substantial meal.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

233

Calories

28 g

Protein

18 g

Carbs

6 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 1/2 Tbsp. dried red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. salt

1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts, drained

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Spice-Rubbed Steak Salad

Serves 6

Not all steak has to be served with a side of potatoes. To upgrade your veggies, make a substantial salad by adding marinated skirt steak.

This is not a salad for the faint of heart; it’s like the giant bowls served up at steakhouses. That makes it an awesome meal to serve up when you’re in the mood for a cookout with friends and family but don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen or at the grill.

If you’d rather lighten this up a bit, look for a low-fat blue cheese dressing, or make your own using Greek yogurt.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

698

Calories

64 g

Protein

13 g

Carbs

43 g

Fat

Ingredients

Marinated Steak:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

3 lbs. skirt steak, trimmed of fat

Salad:

1 large head Romaine lettuce, chopped

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup croutons

1/4 cup (1 oz.) blue cheese crumbles

1/2 cup blue cheese dressing (or more to taste)

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Niçoise Sandwich

Serves 1

This sandwich sounds fancy, but don’t let that intimidate you. Named for Nice, France, it features simple ingredients available in the French Riviera.

Start with a can of tuna, and then mix in chopped black olives and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil – a couple teaspoons if you want to lower the fat by about five grams – and spoon onto a baguette.

For even more protein, slice a hard-boiled egg to add on top along with a handful of baby spinach.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

625

Calories

53 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

32 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 can (6 oz.) tuna, drained and flaked

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4” whole-grain baguette

Handful of baby spinach

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Moroccan-Spiced Cod with Carrots & Cauliflower Cous Cous

Serves 1

This dinner-for-one is lean and nutritious; yet it’s also full of flavor thanks to the carrots, olives, and Moroccan seasoning. Ras el hanout may sound fancy, but it just stands for “head of the shop” in Arabic.

In other words, the spice blend itself can vary, using up to a dozen ingredients including cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili peppers, and paprika. If you can’t find a blend in your grocery store, know there are lots of recipes to help you cull together a blend from what’s available in your area.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

418

Calories

20 g

Protein

28 g

Carbs

25 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. water

1/2 medium head cauliflower, florets trimmed and stems discarded

1 Tbsp. minced preserved lemon (or juice of 1/2 lemon)

Salt to taste

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. ras el hanout

3 oz. cod filet, washed and patted dry

2 carrots, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

5 castelvetrano olives (or other green olives)

Small handful of Italian parsley, minced

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Salmon Quinoa Salad

Serves 1

Rethink salad with wild salmon, and lunch will be anything but boring. You don’t even need greens for this salad if you’d rather leave out the fresh cilantro.

On the other hand, if you want some baby spinach or peppery arugula, you can mix in a handful of two of leafy greens to boost your vitamin intake for the day. No matter how you prep it, this salmon salad will be filling with quinoa, edamame, and feta.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

592

Calories

46 g

Protein

50 g

Carbs

23 g

Fat

Ingredients

5 oz. wild-caught salmon, baked

1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/3 cup dry)

1/3 cup shelled edamame

1/4 cup chopped cucumbers

1/4 cup chopped carrots

1/4 cup chopped bell peppers

1/4 cup feta

1/4 cup dried cranberries, no sugar added (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Lemon juice (optional)

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OVER 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE USED MY COOKBOOK TO GET THE BODY THEY WANT EATING THE FOODS THEY LOVE. WILL YOU BE NEXT?

What if I told you that just about everything magazines and trainers “teach” you about dieting is wrong?

What if you could build muscle and lose fat eating “naughty” foods every week?

What if you didn’t have to suffer through low-carb dieting to get lean? In fact, what if you could eat all the carbs you wanted?

And what if you didn’t have to gorge yourself just to gain muscle and didn’t have to put on pounds and pounds of ugly fat, either?

In short, what if I told you that proper dieting--whether you want to maximize fat loss or muscle growth--is much simpler and more enjoyable than you’ve been led to believe?

Imagine eating delicious, filling meals every day...never feeling starved or stuffed...having great energy levels and workouts...and watching your body respond exactly as you desire, dropping fat or adding muscle each and every week.

And imagine finally understanding how proper dieting really works, never again falling for the BS, tricks, and gimmicks pushed by “gurus” and other shysters.

Well, I have good news.

All these “fantasies” can be a reality...if you know how to do a handful of “little” things correctly.

You see, when you know how to diet properly--and this doesn’t mean learning to eat boiled chicken and raw broccoli six times per day--getting lean and muscular becomes simple, convenient, and dare I say...enjoyable.

And this book will show you the way.

I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

If you like my articles, then you'll love my bestselling books. They'll show you exactly what you need to do to build muscle and lose fat without hating your diet or living in the gym.

If you're a guy, check out Bigger Leaner Stronger, and if you're a girl, Thinner Leaner Stronger is for you.

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