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16 quick dinners to take the stress out of your evenings

16 quick dinners to take the stress out of your evenings

Can you feel life ramping back up? All it took for us was school and soccer training being back on. Now we’re busy every morning and three nights a week too. Sigh. This is when nutritious, quick dinners are my weapon of choice to fight back against the busy.

I’m not the kind of person who is satisfied with baked beans on toast at the end of the day. I’d love to serve cereal or 2-minute noodles for dinner sometimes, but I’m just not satisfied. I tend to snack the night away after a dinner like that.

I like a proper sit-down meal to make eating an everyday occasion.

That said, I don’t love having to cook every night. It’s heartbreaking some days, isn’t it?! I can wake up some mornings and already be dreading having to cook dinner after a busy day.

This is when these quick dinner recipes come into their own. They are all truly satisfying to eat, but super-fast to put together. You might notice an absence of slow cooker meals here – I’ve left them out on purpose. It’s not that I don’t love a slow cooker for a curry or a casserole, but on so many days you can be out for 10 hours or more. For me, that’s way too much cooking in the slow cooker, even on low. So, I don’t ever use it on days like that.

Instead, I make one of these quick dinners and all is well in the world. Hope you find a few new favourites here too.

16 nutritious and quick dinner recipes

16 quick dinner recipes to try

Vegetable fried rice

Egg and veg fried rice - your new go-to midweek mealImage: Maxabella

This one is one the table in 20 minutes. If I know I’m going to be especially busy in the evening, I’ll cook the rice in the morning and leave it in the fridge, ready to go. Then this dish takes 10 minutes, tops.

Nagi’s frittata

Frittatas make great quick dinners - this one is from Recipe Tin EatsImage: Nagi Maehashi / Recipe Tin Eats

Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats has the best recipes and her frittata works perfectly every time. Frittatas are so good for quick dinners because you can basically make them from whatever you have in the fridge. Of course, one of those things in the fridge needs to be eggs…


Shakshuka from Cookie + KateImage: Kathryne Taylor / Cookie + Kate

I would eat this every night for dinner if I could. It’s actually traditionally a breakfast dish, and it sure is satisfying at that time of the day as well. I really like this shakshuka recipe from Cookie + Kate. A tip for evenings when you’re out and about – you can get the tomato base done well in advance, then just reheat and crack in your eggs when you arrive home.


Oyakodon - such a great midweek mealImage: Maxabella

Oyakodon is faster to to make than it takes rice to cook – so it takes the 15 minutes rice takes using the absorption method. It’s full of satisfying Japanese flavours and if you serve it with a big pile of greens, it’s a well-rounded meal. Slice your chicken nice and thin so it cooks evenly.

Buddha bowls

Lauren Caris Cooks Buddha bowls make a great quick mealImage: Lauren Caris / Lauren Caris Cooks

Keeping a bunch of stuff in the fridge to make Buddha bowls like this one from Lauren Caris Cooks makes any evening easy. We keep cooked quinoa, cold roasted vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot and carrot, shredded red cabbage, homemade falafels, sauerkraut, poached chicken and a couple of good homemade dressings or dips on hand, ready to go. I generally make something like this for lunch, but it’s basically the king of quick dinners as well. The tahini dressing in Lauren’s recipe is sensational.

Pasta e ceci

Pasta e ceci via Smitten Kitchen - such a delicious addition to our quick dinners listImage: Deb Perelman / Smitten Kitchen

I love being part of a big Italian family via my husband – if you’ve seen me, you will know I’m not Italian myself :). One of the best things about it is the foooood. Even when making quick dinners, the Italians know how to bring out the flavour in simple ingredients. Like this pasta and chickpea dish from Smitten Kitchen. I urge you to rustle this 20 minute recipe up this week!

Beef noodle bowl

Quick dinners - beef soba noodle bowlImage: Jeremy Simons / Taste Magazine

This beef, honey-glazed veg and soba noodle bowl is an absolute winner from Taste. Bowl food is exactly how we like to eat. There are a lot of ingredients, but they all go in together so you should be able to crank this delightful dish out in about 25 minutes.

Pizza quesadillas

Pizza quesadillas - super easy for the kids to makeImage: Sonia Stackhouse

No surprise that Sonia’s quesadillas are always a big hit with the kids. They’re a big hit with me too because the kids basically make their own. We always make extra to pack cold in tomorrow’s lunchboxes.

Find more great ideas here: 25 family dinner recipes we make again and again

Bean and eggplant casserole

bean casseroleImage: Lauren Caris / Lauren Caris Cooks

A yummy vegan casserole that is ready to eat in 10 minutes. Which is the beauty of vegan eating – you don’t need long cooking times. Lauren from Lauren Caris Cooks packs delicious, smoky flavour into this beany dish. It’s perfect served with naan or pita for scooping, or I like it served on top of plain steamed carrots. Whatever you fancy!

Sneh’s lentil dal

This dal from Cook Republic is a fabulous addition to this quick dinners listImage: Sneh Roy / Cook Republic

I adore Sneh from Cook Republic – her recipes, her photography, her philosophy. You will love her quick and easy red lentil dal recipe and it will give you a little taste of what Sneh is all about. I often make this dish in the morning and keep it in the fridge to reheat when we get home in the evening. I think it tastes even better that way!

Cantonese noodles

Cantonese noodlesImage: Alan Benson / SBS Food

These noodles are one of my stand-by quick dinners. As long as you’ve got noodles, shallots and garlic (which I substitute for the garlic chives in the recipe, because whoever has garlic chives just hanging around?), you’ve got a meal in around 20 minutes. You’ll also need quite a few Chinese condiments, but once you’ve bought them in, you’ll find yourself making dishes like this as often as you can.

Chicken and black bean chilli

Brooke Lark's four-ingredient chilli

There are shortcuts galore in Brooke Lark’s delicious chilli, but no matter.Cook together four simple ingredients, add any toppings you like and you’re done. We serve this chilli with chopped tomatoes, chopped capsicum, lettuce cups and tortilla shells.

Chilli tuna pasta

Chilli tuna tagliatelle with lemon and asparagusImage: Sonia Stackhouse

Quick dinners that use a tin of tuna are right up there with my favourites. Quick and cheap to make! This lemon and asparagus tuna pasta is full of new flavours. It makes such an awesome change from the standard red-sauce pasta that we so often make. It will take you less than 20 minutes to make.

Thai basil chicken

Thai basil chicken is the king of super quick dinnersImage: Nagi Maehashi / Recipe Tin Eats

Nagi does it again! You can have this Thai basil chicken by Recipe Tin Eats on the table in 15 minutes. It’s truly mouth-watering and just the kind of reward you want at the end of a long day. I serve it up with green beans and peas that I simply nuke in the microwave to keep everything speedy.

Pesto pasta

Pesto pastaImage: Danielle Colley

It pays to have a jar of pesto in the fridge, ready to go. Then it’s just a matter of cooking the pasta and stirring it through. Everyone in our family loves a bowl of pesto pasta and I am always amused that they think it’s such a treat. It literally takes five minutes to make.

Sneh’s paneer fried rice

Cook Republic paneer fried riceImage: Sneh Roy / Cook Republic

Another fantastic recipe from Cook Republic. This one is super-fast, being ready in under 25 minutes from start to eating. Paneer is a type of cottage cheese that you can get at most supermarkets. It’s truly delicious and adds a crispy depth to this veggie rice dish. Also, I am totally crushing on Sneh’s beautiful bowls up there!!!

If you make any of these delicious meals, let us know! 

Please share a link to your favourite quick dinners in the comments below.