21 Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas (to Make Mealtime a Snap!)

quick and easy dinners

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As a full-time working and side hustling mom of three sweet kiddos, quick and easy dinners are the dinners we do most of the time! And I love to find new quick and easy dinner ideas that are a hit with the kiddos!

It’s just fun for me to pore over recipes and try new dishes, and I love it when we find those simple dinner ideas and recipes that we love that get added to our list of favorites.

In this article I share some of our favorite quick and easy dinner recipes. These are all meals that you can have on the dinner table in about 30 minutes or less; no slaving in the kitchen for hours or making your starving kiddos wait too long for their supper! 🙂

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The Best Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas

In the article are some of the best quick and easy to prepare dinner recipes. They can really save you time and effort (and money) in the kitchen.

Also, some of the recipes below are Instant Pot recipes. We just got one of these last year, and they are so convenient! They are really a great time saver. I love ours!

You can learn more about the model we got here, or click on the image below to learn more about the benefits of getting an Instant Pot.

I hope you enjoy these quick and easy dinner recipes!

Check out these related articles:

Easy Ways to Save Money on Simple Dinner Ideas

There are great ways to make quick and easy dinners more budget friendly.

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You can also save more money when grocery shopping by taking advantage of the sales and discounted items, buying produce in season, buying less expensive cuts of meat, buying generic brands rather than more popular name brands, and more.

You can find tons of ideas for how to slash your food and grocery budget here.

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21 Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes

These are some of the best quick and easy dinner recipes for families. Enjoy these simple dinner recipes to help you get family meals on the table quicker, cheaper, and easier!

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

This is one of the many cheesy, pleasy comfort casseroles that I love. This simple dinner idea has cheese, bacon, pasta, chicken, broccoli, and ranch dressing. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast, chopped
  • 8 oz. pasta (rotini, elbow macaroni, etc.)
  • 4 cups chopped broccoli
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Boil the chicken in a pot about 15 to 20 minutes, until no longer pink inside. In another pot, also cook the pasta according to package directions.
  3. At the same time, in a large skillet, cook the bacon to desired doneness.
  4. Add the broccoli to the pot with the chicken for the last 5 minutes. Drain pot.
  5. Combine the chicken, broccoli, bacon, pasta, garlic, ranch dressing, and half of the shredded cheeses in a large bowl. Stir until well incorporated. Pour into a 9×13 inch casserole dish.
  6. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, until hot in the middle and bubbling.

Garlic Toast Pizzas

In the mood for some personal pizzas but don’t want to spend the money to order out? Make these fun garlic toast pizzas, instead! Everyone can add exactly the toppings that they want to this quick and easy dinner idea. (My kids love making their own little pizzas!)

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of garlic bread (cut in about 10 thick slices) or Texas toast garlic bread
  • 1 cup pizza sauce (or substitute marinara or tomato sauce)
  • 30 slices of pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • other toppings (sliced olives, sliced mushrooms, pineapple chunks, and so on)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. If using French bread, then make garlic butter by mixing soft butter (or margarine) and garlic powder. Then cut the French bread in thick slices, and place on a large baking sheet. Then spread the garlic butter on the thick-sliced French bread.
  3. Then spread a little bit of pasta sauce over each slice of the garlic bread (or if using Texas garlic toast, then spread the pasta sauce over the Texas toast).
  4. Then top bread slices with pepperoni and any other desired toppings.
  5. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Creamy Beef and Pasta

Move over, Hamburger Helper! This creamy pasta dish is easy to make and tastes great! #betterfromscratch

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce (2 small cans work, too)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. pasta (rotini, elbow macaroni, penne pasta, or the like)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil, and then add the diced onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef, and brown (about 7 to 8 minutes). Drain grease, and return to burner.
  3. Add the garlic, oregano, and salt, and stir well.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and broth, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, cool the pasta according to directions, and then drain.
  6. Add the pasta and milk to the sauce, and stir to combine. Add in the cheese, and stir well to combine.

Barbecue Chicken Tostadas

I bet you don’t have tostadas every week, huh? So enjoy this little bit of a novel quick and easy dinner idea.

Ingredients

  • 8 tostada shells (or use 8 corn tortillas; brush them lightly with oil and bake for about 5 minutes per side, until crisp)
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce, divided
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay out the tostada shells (or baked tortillas) on two baking sheets.
  2. Boil the chicken breasts for about 15 to 20 minutes, until no longer pink inside. Shred the chicken with two forks.
  3. Combine the chicken and 1 1/2 cups of the barbecue sauce in a large bowl, and stir to coat.
  4. Place the chicken on the tostada shells, and top with the cheese (about ÂĽ cup on each).
  5. Bake for about 8 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with the remaining barbecue sauce

Tip: You can also make barbecue chicken tostadas in your Instant Pot.

Spaghetti Bake

I love this quick and easy dinner recipe as a fun twist on traditional spaghetti. It’s a simple dinner idea with ingredients that are all easily kept on hand, so no running to the store for rare ingredients! It also makes it a great pantry recipe. (You can even substitute dried onion for the fresh onion and garlic powder for the minced garlic, and you can sub dried parmesan cheese for fresh parmesan cheese and omit the green pepper, and then the only non-pantry items are the shredded cheese and hamburger.)

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small or medium diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 diced green pepper (optional)
  • 32 oz. pasta sauce or tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. diced tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the meat with onion, garlic, and seasoning over medium heat. Add the green pepper once the meat starts to brown, stirring occasionally. Drain any grease.
  3. Add pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, and tomatoes to the skillet. Simmer about 10 minutes uncovered. Stir in the spaghetti noodles and parsley.
  4. Spread into a  9×13 inch pan, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and shredded cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

Chicken Taco Salad

I love this easy and quick dinner recipe, where the traditional chicken taco salad is made using tortilla chips instead of a taco bowl shell (but if you have the taco bowl, by all means, use it :)).

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or 2 tablespoons homemade)
  • green salad (from the bag, or make your own)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 medium avocadoes, diced (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • favorite dressing

Directions

  1. Cook the chicken in a large skillet on medium heat in the oil for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the taco seasoning.
  2. Toss the salad, adding the tomatoes and avocadoes.
  3. Put a good amount of tortilla chips on the plates, and top with the salad.
  4. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese, and then top with salad dressing.

Beef Enchiladas

Continuing our sort of Tex-Mex theme, here is a simple dinner recipe for ground beef enchiladas.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning (from the packet, or homemade)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 small cans tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 16 oz. cheese, shredded
  • optional toppings like sour cream, salsa, green onions, diced avocadoes, and tomatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground beef and onion in a skillet over medium heat. Drain any fat and return skillet to burner.
  3. Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and water, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 inch casserole dish to coat the bottom.
  5. Add a small amount of the ground beef mixture (about 1/3 cup) down the center of each tortilla. Add about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese, and roll up tightly.
  6. Lay the tortilla with filling seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat until the casserole dish is filled with the rolled enchiladas. If you have any remaining ground beef, sprinkle it over the top of the rolled enchiladas.
  7. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the tortillas, making sure to coat each tortilla.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the center is bubbly.

Tip: You can also make 5 ingredient beef enchiladas in your Instant Pot.

Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole

Tater tot casserole is a pretty quick and easy dinner that I grew up eating regularly. And it’s hearty, to boot!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. can of corn, drained
  • 10.75 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large bag frozen tater tots
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, and then drain the excess fat.
  3. Add the diced onion to the skillet, and sauté it for about 5 minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, and cook it, stirring frequently, for an additional minute.
  5. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Transfer the ground beef to a 9×13 baking dish, add the can of corn and cream of mushroom soup, mix well, and spread it in the pan.
  7. Top with the tater tots, followed by the cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the tater tots are browned and the cheese is melted.

Easy Taco Bake

Love tacos but want to mix things up a bit? Make this tasty quick and easy dinner to enjoy taco bake!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream (for garnish)
  • chopped tomatoes (for garnish)
  • sliced olives (for garnish)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, and then drain the excess grease.
  3. Add in the taco seasoning and water called for (according to seasoning packet directions).
  4. Add the salsa to the ground beef, and stir well to combine.
  5. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  6. Layer the bottom of the pan with four flour tortillas.
  7. Spread about 1/2 of the ground beef taco filling on the the first layer.
  8. Then add 1/2 of the shredded cheese.
  9. Then add a second layer of tortillas, the rest of the taco mixture, and the rest of the cheese.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted, and then serve.

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is another great comfort food that I love. But for a fun twist, use chicken shepherd’s pie! It tastes great and makes this dish even more budget friendly.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 small can (10.5 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 16 oz. package frozen corn or frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (great way to use leftover mashed potatoes, or you can also use instant potatoes if you are short on time)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Stir the soup and water in a large bowl.
  2. Season the chicken with the pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink inside.
  3. Add the chicken and corn or vegetables to the soup mixture, and stir to combine. Transfer the chicken mixture into an 8×8 inch square baking dish.
  4. Spread the mashed potatoes over the chicken mixture. 
  5. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbling.

French Bread Pizza

French bread pizza is another quick and easy dinner that is a fun alternative to traditional pizza.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf French bread
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened (or substitute margarine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce or tomato sauce 
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • 20 slices pepperoni
  • sliced olives
  • additional toppings, if desired (chopped pineapple, sliced mushrooms, sliced green or other peppers, sliced red onions, and so on)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the French bread loaf in half.
  3. Spread the butter on the bread, and then sprinkle the garlic powder on top. Bake for about 3 minutes, until lightly toasted.
  4. Remove from the oven and then spread the sauce on top. Then sprinkle the cheese on top and add the pepperoni and olives and your other favorite toppings.
  5. Bake for an additional 10 or so minutes, until the cheese is melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then slice and enjoy!

Calzones

Calzones are another tasty Italian dish you’ll love that is a fun alternative to pizza. Like many of the recipes in this article, this quick and easy dinner idea can be ready in under 30 minutes!cxcftr5

Ingredients

  • 32 oz. (2 pound) pizza dough
  • 1 cup pizza sauce or tomato sauce
  • 1 cup pepperoni
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (or substitute cottage cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a 1/4″ thick circle.
  3. Place the filling on half of each circle (pizza sauce, ricotta, pepperoni, salami and shredded mozzarella). Make sure to leave the edges clean to allow for sealing the calzone. Fold the side over the filling and crimp the edges.
  4. Place calzones on a baking sheet, leaving space apart. Cut a small vent on the top of each calzone. Brush the tops with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Hamburger Casserole

This is a great quick and easy dinner idea that is a pasta dish packed with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups egg noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small or medium chopped onion
  • 1 cup corn or frozen mixed vegetables
  • 14 oz. tomato sauce or pasta sauce
  • 14 oz. diced canned tomatoes, drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook egg noodles according to package directions, and drain.
  3. Brown the ground beef and chopped onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain fat. 
  4. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, corn or mixed vegetables, oregano, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors.
  5. Combine noodles, meat sauce, and 1 cup of cheese in a 8×8 inch casserole dish. Stir well.
  6. Sprinkle remaining cheese over pasta dish, and bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Cheesy Taco Pasta

This is another cheesy, pleasy (and budget friendly) quick and easy dinner idea that is a tasty pasta dish. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. favorite pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (or 1 seasoning packet)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot according to package directions, and drain.
  2. Add the ground beef to the pan, and brown. Drain the fat.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water, stir well, and cook until water is absorbed.
  4. Add the pasta back into the pot.
  5. Add the salsa and cheese.
  6. Stir to combine.
  7. Serve with tortilla chips on top, if desired.

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken fried rice is another quick and easy dinner that you can get on the table in about

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen peas and diced carrots mix
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a large nonstick skillet or wok. Add the cubed chicken, and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pan (leave the oil in the pan), and put on a plate.
  3. Add the vegetables to the pan, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the chicken and rice to the skillet, add the soy sauce, add the salt and pepper (to taste), and stir to combine.
  6. Cook for about 2 minutes, until rice and chicken are heated through.

Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice

This simple dinner is easy to make and feeds a big crowd. (Serves 8!) Or it’s great to have leftovers, too. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Use a casserole dish with a lid for easy storage of this quick and easy dinner idea.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 small (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 small (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 16 oz. package frozen chopped broccoli, or about 3 cups fresh chopped broccoli
  • 1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a 9×13 inch baking dish, mix the cooked rice, cooked chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, butter or margarine, milk, chopped broccoli and onion, and shredded cheese.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Chicken Ranch Quesadillas

Quesadillas are another quick and easy dinner that you can make in just minutes. And chicken ranch quesadillas are a fun (and tasty!) variation of that simple dinner idea.

Ingredients

  • 8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions

  1. Spread 2 tablespoons ranch dressing over 4 tortillas. Top each with about 1/2 cup of the chicken and a little over one cup of cheese.
  2. Top each tortilla with another tortilla.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add one quesadilla and cook until the bottom is lightly browned. Flip over, and cook until the other side is lightly browned.
  4. Add an additional tablespoon of butter to skillet and repeat for each remaining quesadilla.

Hot Dogs and Potatoes Skillet (Skillet Franks and Potatoes)

Ingredients

This is another quick and easy (and really budget friendly!) dinner idea.

Ingredients

  • 1 package favorite hot dogs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 medium cooked potatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Chop the hot dogs into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add hot dogs.
  3. Cook the hot dogs for about 5 minutes, until browned, turning occasionally. Remove hot dogs from skillet, and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the chopped potatoes, onion, and bell pepper to the skillet.
  5. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown. Add salt and pepper, and mix well.
  6. Return the hot dogs to the skillet. Cook about 5 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

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Final Thoughts on Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes

I hope you enjoyed this list of quick and easy dinner ideas. They are some of the best quick and easy dinner recipes for families. And these quick and easy dinner ideas are budget friendly, too, which is a huge plus in my book!

What are some of your favorite quick and easy dinner ideas? What quick and easy dinner recipes or simple dinner recipes do you love and make again and again? Leave a comment below and let me know! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

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