Will and I have five criteria for good go-to weeknight meals. We came up with them early on in our marriage, and still live when a meal checks off multiple boxes. Our five criteria are: 1. Healthy, 2. Creates or uses leftovers (the reasoning here is to get something out of the fridge or provide lunch the next day), 3. Quick/easy, 4. Cost efficient, 5. Tasty. Some meals on our go-to dinners list don’t fit all of those criteria (quick/easy is probably the most challenging), but we strive for each meal to meet a few of them.
As I was thinking about our go-to dinners, I wanted at least two full weeks worth of tried and true options to easily pick from as I meal plan. Not having to spin my wheels quite as much makes the meal planning process smoother, faster, and less stressful. 10 would be enough for two weeks of weeknights, but it’s nice to have more options, since some are seasonal. We often make a few of these recipes each week and add in a new recipe here in between, or put a longer recipe on the menu on Saturday or Sunday, when we have more time to prep. I plan to continue to add to this list as new recipes become staples.
We have cut back our meat consumption at home to almost nothing, leaving room for it when we visit friends, family, or new restaurants. Because of that, it was important to us that at least 10 of these 15 regularly made meals are plant based or vegetarian. We are also lucky to get some game meats and deep sea fish from Will’s family members, so sometimes pheasant, venison, or red snapper will replace chicken or salmon in our recipes. That being said, you could easily add meat to many of these or make these recipes as a side to your main dish if you are a meat-eating family. For instance, you could make succotash alongside your grilled chicken in the summer, or add ground or shredded meat to your veggie enchiladas.
You’ll notice that many of our day-to-day meals are not elaborate. Will gets home late most nights and sometimes I like to prioritize other things after work (exercise, errands, baking for friends, etc) or stay at work later myself and don’t have time to make a big dinner. On these nights, eggs are our favorite. They are so versatile and a good omelette filled with whatever veggies or leftovers you have can easily check off all 5 of those criteria. Fried eggs and toast – breakfast for dinner – is even easier when there is nothing left in the fridge at the end of the week.
15 Go-To Weeknight Meals
3. Lentils cooked in broth + Roasted Seasonal Vegetables
6. Burrito Bowls: cauliflower “rice” with black beans, roasted veggies, caramelized onions, this spice mixture, avocado, and lime juice
7. Omelettes/version of eggs filled with/alongside end-of-the-week veggies
8. Salad with Seasonal Toppings
10. Spicy Beans and Garlicky Greens (use same spicy bean recipe from #9, sautee greens of choice with a little olive oil and generous garlic, smoked paprika, and salt)
11. Very Versatile Vegetable Soup from Love and Lemons Everyday cookbook (recipe also here); As the name suggests, this recipe is so versatile. I change something about it every time I make it, depending on what we have on hand or what is in season. It is even better the next day when the flavors have had time to meld together.
12. Sweet Potato “Nachos” with black beans, mango, avocado (or guac), and cilantro from Love and Lemons cookbook
13. Marinated Pheasant/Venison/Chicken with Kale sauteed in the cooked down marinade (marinade is a family recipe)
14. Sweet Potato Vegetable Enchiladas from Love Real Food cookbook (recipe also found here); we layer it like a lasagna instead of rolling the enchiladas, and sometimes use a mandolin to cut sweet potatoes in thin slices to use in place of some of the tortillas.
We’re constantly trying to add more recipes into our repertoire, so I’d love to hear some of your favorite go-to weeknight meals!
Sweet potato and spicy chickpea photo from How Sweet Eats