Easy dinner ideas

To help get you through busy nights.
Published September 15, 2020

In search of easy dinner ideas for impossibly busy evenings? With these tips, you’ll never have to worry about what to make for dinner again! Read on to discover plenty of mouthwatering inspiration for every taste, every budget, and every time frame.

What’s for dinner? General tips to keep prep fast and easy

  • Make a list of ingredients you don’t like preparing. Sometimes even the well-intentioned plans to make dinner from scratch are waylaid by a single ingredient or step. Hate chopping onions? Find a brand of frozen chopped onions you like and keep a stash in the freezer at all times. Does the thought of mincing garlic or ginger send you running from recipes? Take the knife work out of the equation by keeping a jar of pre-minced garlic or ginger in the fridge.
  • Keep a selection of easy-to-prepare protein options in the freezer. Divide your choice of protein into one or two-portion packages and thaw overnight in the fridge or in the microwave before using.
  • Use a pressure cooker to quickly prepare dried grains, pulses, poultry, and lean meats that would traditionally call for a long braising time. Alternatively, a slow cooker can be used to prepare the same ingredients with very little supervision over the course of several hours.

Make a praise-worthy pizza (without the dough)

A delicious homemade pizza is never more than 30 minutes away when there’s pita bread, focaccia, naan, or flour tortillas on hand. Instead of using pizza dough (which, even when using the frozen kind, can seem like too much to handle on a busy weeknight), try piling your choice of flatbread with all your favourite pizza toppings — or get inspired by the suggestions below!

  • Butter chicken flatbread: Prepared butter chicken sauce, shredded rotisserie chicken or cubed tofu, diced jalapeño, sliced scallions, cubed paneer, and fresh cilantro.
  • Italian deli flatbread: Pesto sauce, artichokes, roasted red peppers, diced red onions, prosciutto, parsley or basil, and shaved or freshly-grated parmesan cheese. 
  • BBQ flatbread: Barbecue sauce, canned or fresh pineapple slices, leftover pulled pork or rotisserie chicken, red onion, and grated Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Try this quick and easy recipe using naan bread: Spicy White Bean, Caponata, and Arugula Pizzas

Make it easier: Keep a sealed stash of your favourite flatbreads in the freezer for up to 6 months. Remove from the fridge when you start dinner and it will be defrosted and ready for toppings once you’re ready to add the toppings.

Get reacquainted with ready-made meatballs

If you think meatballs are only for spaghetti you’ll be wowed by how versatile this seemingly basic ingredient can be! With such a wide variety of fresh, frozen, and homemade options to choose from, meatballs are the ultimate convenience food when it comes to building satisfying yet simple suppers everyone will enjoy.

  • Serve meatballs in place of meatloaf! Pair meatballs with steamed vegetables and regular or sweet potatoes.
  • Add turkey or chicken meatballs to a stir fry or curry sauce — serve over brown rice or any other hearty grain.
  • Try this quick and easy recipe using Beyond Meat plant-based burgers: Beyond Meat Kofta and Vegetable Kebabs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt Sauce

Make it easier: Microwavable steam-in-the-bag veggies and bagged salads are ideal for pairing with meatballs; if the meatballs are pre-made dinner can be on the table in as little as 10 minutes!

Make store-bought soups and chilis memorable

On those nights when even the bare minimum seems too much to handle, there’s nothing easier than taking commercially-prepared soup or chili and turning it into a filling, nutritious meal with the addition of some equally-as-convenient healthy foods.

  • Canned chili: Fresh tomato salsa, frozen diced butternut squash and/or sweet potatoes, shredded turkey or chicken, and crumbled cotija or feta cheese.
  • Canned soup: Shredded greens (spinach, kale, and cabbage), mixed frozen vegetables, drizzle of olive or toasted sesame oil, and your choice of fresh herbs.
  • Ramen: Throw out the flavour packet and use homemade or commercially prepared stock in its place; add dried mushrooms, cubed tofu or poultry, shredded carrot, grated fresh ginger, and Chinese greens.
  • Try this quick and easy recipe using ramen noodles: Ramen Soup with Tofu

Make it easier: Frozen vegetables can be scooped right from the bag and added directly to soups, stews, and sauces. Unlike canned vegetables, frozen veggies are harvested and flash-frozen at peak ripeness, which means they’ll always be chock-full of nutrients and fresh-picked flavour.