12 Easy + Delicious Meals to Make When You Just Don't Feel Like Cooking

HGTV.com editors share their go-to quick-fix recipes for those hectic weeknights when an elaborate meal just isn't gonna happen.

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Unless you're a superhero, you've likely experienced your share of evenings when you simply don't have the time or the energy to whip up a gourmet meal. And on those nights, you've also likely resorted to eating a protein bar and a handful of potato chips. But I'm here to tell you, this doesn't have to happen. This week, skip the cereal and save your takeout money for the weekend with one of these quick, yummy meals that are dinner lifesavers for our editors. You can throw these together in less than 30 minutes with ingredients you may already have sitting in the pantry.

Keri: Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

Stuffed Green Peppers

Closeup of three stuffed green bell peppers.

Photo by: iStock/cobraphoto


"I like to steam green pepper halves and stuff them with pre-cooked quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cheese and whatever else I have on hand, then season with minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, etc. Bake the stuffed peppers for about 20 minutes on 350 (I sprinkle way more cheese on top at this point). Then top with sour cream, avocado, cilantro, salsa, whatever…"

Kayla: Pasta #FTW

Chicken Ragu

Chicken Ragu

Photo by: iStock


"I was going to suggest having the pizza delivery number handy… But for the nights when I'm not eating an entire pizza by myself, I love anything pasta-related. I defrost frozen chicken in the microwave just to thaw it out, and then throw it in a pan with white wine and a little butter. I usually eyeball it, but for measurement purposes let’s say 1/4 cup white wine and 1 tablespoon butter. After about 5 minutes I will throw whatever veggies I have (plus minced garlic that comes in the jar) and sauté them until the chicken and veggies are cooked through! Add it to pasta and marinara and you’ve got a yummy pasta bowl."  

Keri: Comfort Food Grilled Cheese

"Okay, so for my super delish grilled cheese: Mash an avocado and spread on one slice of whole wheat bread. Add one or two slices of pepper jack cheese and a few slices of your preferred salami. Fry until brown on both sides and cheese is melted. On the side, I like to fry an egg over medium, then I add that to the sandwich. It’s a total mess, but sooo good."

Ryan: 10-Minute Chicken

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Chicken breast baked with rosemary on a cuuting board.

Photo by: iStock



  • chicken breasts
  • juice from a large lemon
  • sprig of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper

In a skillet, add olive oil and bring to a medium heat. Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and add to warm skillet, flipping occasionally until brown on all sides. Reduce heat to low and add lemon juice, chicken broth and chopped rosemary. Cover and cook for 6 minutes. Turn chicken over and cover for another 4 minutes.

Mariel: From-the-Fridge Frittata

Bacon and Potato Frittata for Brunch

Bacon and Potato Frittata for Brunch

A pie-shaped slice of bacon and potato frittata, garnished with fresh basil, is served at a brunch celebration.

"I go the Frittata route: quick, easy and only takes one pan = win. I sauté whatever veggies and proteins I have on hand with olive oil and a little garlic and onion. Then add it to 8 beaten eggs with a little milk and a lot of whatever cheese I can find. Then pour it back into the hot pan to cook. I add a lid for more even cooking and broil it at the end for just a couple minutes to make sure the top is set and nicely golden."

Mariel's go-to flavor combos:

  • Spinach + Mushroom + Swiss
  • Bacon + Tomato + Cheddar
  • Ham + Zucchini + Gruyere

Shannon: Burrito Bowls

Chicken burrito bowl

Chicken burrito bowl

Photo by: iStock/AlexPro9500


"I always like to have ingredients on hand for easy burrito bowls: brown rice, canned black beans, frozen corn, salsa, Mexican-style shredded cheese, sour cream. If I have an onion and/or bell pepper, I’ll sauté those with a little bit of taco seasoning. Complete it with any protein you have on hand: avocado, shrimp, chicken, etc. Top with cilantro or green onion if you have it."

Farima: Mexican Zucchini Skillet

"My favorite meal is Mexican zucchini skillet. All you do is chop up zucchini and garlic and cook it over the skillet with ground beef and chopped tomatoes. So easy and quick."

Get the Recipe: Mexican Beef + Zucchini

Liz: Sushi Bowls

"I like to make 'sushi bowls' on nights I don't feel like cooking. Leftover or frozen black or brown rice, with a little sushi vinegar or apple cider vinegar, topped with your favorite sushi toppings! This one has cucumber, avocado, smoked salmon, wasabi and a soft-boiled egg."

Maria: Dessert-for-Dinner Smoothie

Chocolate Smoothie

Chocolate Smoothie

Photo by: iStock/Hannah Millerick

iStock/Hannah Millerick

"I love smoothies and the ingredients I use last a while in the fridge/pantry and the results are delish. I use a couple tablespoons of vanilla Greek yogurt, one tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, one scoop of chocolate protein powder and one whole frozen banana. I usually add some unsweetened almond milk & ice to the mix before blending. It tastes like a frosty from Wendy’s so it’s basically the perfect dessert-for-dinner meal and all the protein keeps ya full!"

Farima: Cheesy Salsa Chicken

"Season skinless, boneless chicken breast with salt and pepper, cook over the skillet. Then, cover with a slice of cheddar and pour a jar of salsa on top. Cover with a lid until salsa is warm and cheese is melted. I usually eat it with a salad or quinoa. Super easy recipe! Salsa is always good to have in the pantry."

Deanne: Quinoa "Super Food" Bowls

"I’m all about a quinoa bowl. So easy and so good for you. I keep a 5 lb. bag in my pantry at all times to use as a base for dozens of breakfast, lunch and dinner combos. My go-to bowl: Cup of quinoa as the base, cup of steamed kale, 3-4 asparagus spears cut up and half a roasted sweet potato cut up. Toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Boom. Super food dinner that takes no time."

David: Ramen Reimagined

Japanese Ramen Soup

Japanese Ramen Soup

Japanese ramen soup with chicken, egg, chives and sprout on dark wooden background.

Photo by: iStock/tbralnina


"Ramen noodles. They’re not just for dorm rooms anymore. There are higher-end varieties in the Asian section of the hipper grocery stores (you know the ones) and tons of recipes for jazzin’ them up as close as your nearest Google search. I recommend dropping in one of those frozen cilantro cubes, adding some teriyaki sauce and dropping in an egg."

15 Healthy Pantry Dinners for Hectic Weeknights

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Oven-Baked Chicken Taquitos

Dinner doesn’t get much easier than this! These oven-baked chicken taquitos are made with just five ingredients and are ready in 20 minutes. This healthy spin on the traditional fried taquitos is sure to be a new family favorite. Make a double batch and freeze the extras to use for future suppers or school lunches. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Katie Morford, MS, RD

Pizza Quiche

It’s quiche...it’s pizza...it’s quichzza! All the foods you enjoy like pizza, quiche and pie rolled into one skillet. Start with whole-wheat pizza dough (you can pick this up in the bakery section of your supermarket), add eggs, whatever veggies you have on hand, your favorite cheese and bake. Is this breakfast or dinner? You decide! We vote both! Get the recipe >>

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Photo By: Kylie Mitchell, MPH, RDN

Turkey Taco Soup

Super satisfying and ready in just 15 minutes, this taco soup uses many canned ingredients like diced tomatoes, black beans, corn and green chilies. Keep a packet of taco seasoning in your pantry and ground meat (like the ground turkey used in this recipe) in your fridge and you’ll have a healthy meal the whole family will enjoy in less time than it takes to pick up takeout. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Kristina LaRue, RD

Lightened-Up Mongolian Chicken

Add whatever veggies you have on hand and swap chicken for tofu or cauliflower, if desired, to create this delicious Asian-inspired dish in just 30 minutes. This lightened-up recipe is simple and easy and features a savory sauce that can’t be beat! Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Min Kwon, MS, RDN

Slow-Cooker Jamaican Jerk Pork

Simple ingredients: check! Large quantity: check! Tasty, healthy and freezable: check, check, check! This recipe has it all. Jamaican jerk pork made in the slow cooker is perfect in a sandwich, on top of a bed of lettuce or used as a pizza topping. Best of all, it uses ingredients you likely already have in the pantry and fridge. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Sara Haas, RDN

King Ranch Casserole

Get a gluten-free taste of Texas with this easy King Ranch Casserole. This lightened-up version of the classic dish provides all of the flavor of the original recipe, but with less calories. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Gretchen F Brown, RD

One-Pan Roasted Whole Chicken With Gravy

Tired of spending hours cleaning the kitchen? Not anymore! This one-pan chicken recipe is super easy with minimal cleanup. It’s a cook-once-eat-twice-meal thanks to the leftovers you get from it. Your family can enjoy it for dinner or lunch throughout the week. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Abby Langer, RD

Weeknight Chicken Tostadas

Prep the components of this recipe ahead so it can be ready to assemble and serve in less than 10 minutes on a busy weeknight. Use leftover grilled chicken, canned black beans, frozen corn kernels and other grocery staples to customize a family-friendly tostada with all of your favorite toppings. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Holley Grainger, MS, RD

End-of-the-Week Frittata

Is your fridge looking a little sparse by the end of the week? Make this frittata with leftover veggies and other ingredients in your fridge that may be on their last leg. Using up ingredients that are about to go bad in a dish like a frittata is a great way to save money and make sure nothing goes to waste. Plus, leftovers can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: McKel Hill, MS, RD

Veggie Nuggets

Need help getting your kids to eat vegetables? Try making these easy veggie nuggets that highlight things that kids love: nuggets, dipping and finger food. They can be served as a snack, as a meal or even tucked into lunch boxes. Get the recipe >>

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Photo By: Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Oven-Baked Fish Sticks

Love fish sticks but hate their high fat and sodium content? Ditch the frozen fish sticks for this healthier version that uses less breading, more nutritious ingredients and baked instead of fried fish. Feel free to use whatever frozen fish you have on hand. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Dr. Sonali Ruder

Vegan Burrito Bowl

This better-for-you burrito bowl is bursting with spices and flavor. It’s made with brown rice, satiating protein from the tofu and black beans, and healthy fat from the avocado. This is a bowl that’s sure to fill you up, not fill you out! Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Kara Lydon, RD

Weeknight Chicken Curry

Warm, comforting and delicious for a busy weeknight, this chicken curry recipe uses minimal ingredients (many of which you already have in the pantry) and requires less than an hour to cook. Plus, it can be made ahead time and reheated for future meals. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Dixya Bhattarai, RD

One-Pot-Wonder Southwest Pasta

Dig into your pantry and freezer to find many of the ingredients needed to make this 25-minute weeknight pasta dish. Follow the one-pot method by cooking pasta, veggies, seasoning and broth simultaneously to make mealtime prep a breeze. Get the recipe >>

  1. dinner

Photo By: Amanda Finks, RDN

5-Ingredient Orange Maple Salmon

Give salmon a sweet and tangy twist with a simple maple syrup-orange juice glaze your children are sure to enjoy. Using only five ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes, this recipe will add fish into your family-favorite weeknight dinner rotation. Get the recipe >>

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Photo By: Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN

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