Skip to main content

Easy Weeknight Meals: 29 Great Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

14 min read

By ActiveBeat Author

Let’s face it, we all live busy lives, and with those busy nights come stressful dinner times. Most of us get home from work and are too exhausted to even cook a homecooked meal. But what if we could help make those hectic weeknights a little easier?

We have found 29 amazing weeknights meals for you. The best part, they’re all 30-minutes or less! So set up that Ipad, put your favorite Netflix show on and your dinner will be ready before your show even ends! Get ready to have epic meals every night, bye-bye fast food!

29. Chicken Fried Rice

This meal is just like your favorite Asian takeout dish but maybe a little better. You can make this in the comfort of your own home!

It happens to be budget-friendly and exploding with flavor and textures. You’ll experience flavors of jasmine rice, garlic, soy sauce, loaded veggies, and tender chicken bites. Don’t be surprised when the family requests this one again.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 18 min

Photos and Recipe By: A PINCH OF HEALTHY

28. Skillet Tuscan Tortellini

One-pot meals are the best for minimal clean up which in conclusion means less mess, hooray! This meal won’t take you 30 minutes to makes but instead, it’ll only take you 18.

Tortellini are fun little pasta bites that offer a surprise in the middle. In this dish, you want to use irresistible cheese-filled tortellini. You’ll combine the tortellini with sausage, several veggies, and tons of seasoning. To complete the dish you’ll want to consume all the ingredients in a savory tomato sauce and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 8 min

Photos and Recipe By: CHEW OUT LOUD

27. Creamy Shrimp Fettuccine With Spinach And Tomatoes

Quench your carb craving with this shrimp fettuccine meal. The cheesy and creamy sauce will have you and the whole family coming back for seconds.

In this dish, you’ll find soft fettuccine noodles, tender shrimp and savory tomatoes, and spinach. Your dinner will come together in just 30 minutes and it will taste like Italian cuisine just stepped into our kitchen.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 20 min

Photo and Recipe By: DIETHOOD

26. Quick & Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

You can never go wrong with mac and cheese. Both children and adults alike love this cheesy bowl of goodness! While you may be tempted to grab a box of mac and cheese from the grocery store, this Instant Pot recipe is just as easy (if not easier)!

Homemade mac and cheese packs even more flavor and cheesy texture that you and your family are going to love. The best part is that this recipe requires simple and inexpensive ingredients which makes this an excellent weeknight meal.

Prep time: 0 min, Cook Time: 10 min

Photo and Recipe By: Forkly

25. Teriyaki Salmon

Experience salmon like never before with this delicious teriyaki sauce. The homemade teriyaki sauce is full of sweet and flavorful ingredients and will only take you a few minutes to whip up.

The sauce has hints of bold ginger, zesty lemon, garlic and is sweetened with brown sugar and honey. Depending on how hungry you are, you could eat the salmon on its own or while it cooks in the oven you could cook up a side of rice and steamed veggies of your choice.

Prep time: 15 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photos and Recipe By: COOKING CLASSY

24. One-Pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Chicken parmesan is delicious but all the steps it takes to get there aren’t always realistic for a busy weeknight. When your craving for chicken parmesan creeps up you’ll want to give this a try.

Not only will this meal flood the flavors of chicken parmesan in your mouth but it also is cooked in just one pot. In just 30 minutes you can enjoy this cheesy flavorful and filling meal.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 20 min

Photos and Recipe By: THE CHUNKY CHEF

23. Tuscan Sausage Potato Soup

Some days you just grave a big ol’ bowl of soup. It’s comforting, warm, and packs a lot of flavor into just one bowl. This Tuscan sausage and potato soup is definitely not lacking in the flavor department and is definitely full of amazing textures.

You’ll find chunky potatoes, delicious Italian sausage, and nutrient-dense kale in this soup. Add a bit of cream to make it extra creamy and you’ll be able to enjoy this in no time. Soups often freeze well too so you might want to make a double batch of this one and have an even quicker meal the next time you want to enjoy it.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 20 min

Photos and Recipe By: LEMON TREE DWELLING

22. Quick & Easy Instant Pot Deconstructed Lasagna

Lasagna is a crowd favorite in many homes but unfortunately, it does require quite a bit of work. So Forkly set out to transform a traditionally labor-intensive meal into one that is quick and easy and fit for a busy weeknight.

The solution? Use an Instant Pot and try our deconstructed method! You’re able to indulge in the same savory flavors you know and love but won’t have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing them.

Prep time: 0 min, Cook Time: 30 min

Photos and Recipe By: Forkly

21. Steak Fajitas Recipe

If you feel like having a fiesta for dinner you’ll want to bring these steak fajitas to the dinner table. It starts with steak strips and sliced peppers and ends with a soft tortilla and perfect toppings.

To make the steak and veggies even more flavorful you’ll want to whip up a quick marinade and have it sit in the fridge overnight. Then when you’re ready to prepare the meal you’ll cook all the ingredients in one skillet. It only takes 25 minutes so you can fuel the bellies of your family before soccer practice in a hurry.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photos and Recipe By: ADD A PINCH

20. 5-Ingredient Baked Chicken Enchilada Tacos

Tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas might seem similar but what makes them truly different is the filling and often the spices and flavor. Taco night is often a family favorite and you’ll definitely want to give this recipe a try.

You’ll start by shredding a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (the inexpensive kind from the grocery store), mixing it with enchilada sauce, and filling taco shells fitted into a casserole dish. Then top them off with loads of cheese before you bake them to perfection in the oven.

Prep time: 15 min, Cook Time: 10 min

Photos and Recipe By: 5-Ingredient Baked Chicken Enchilada Tacos

19. One-Pan Cheesy Jalapeno Chicken

If you want to feed your family a protein-packed cheesy dinner then this would be a great fit for you. This is another one-pan wonder meal that will make your busy weeknight dinners a breeze.

To get this meal going you’ll want to start with a flavorful chicken rub before cooking it in the pan. They’ll start in the pan but finish in the oven to reach a crispy yet tender perfection. While the oven does its magic you’ll get started on cooking the corn and jalapenos in the same pan used for the chicken. You’ll then add the chicken back into the pan, add a generous amount of cheese and finish with zesty lime juice.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photos and Recipe By: THE CHUNKY CHEF

18. Instant Pot Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is another insanely comforting meal. Make a family favorite effortlessly using your Instant Pot!

While you can’t exactly bake a pie in the Instant Pot, you can cook the delicious filling of a chicken pot pie. It’s savory, creamy, and full of delicious flavors and intriguing textures. To complete the meal, serve a bowl of chicken pot pie with a warm biscuit!

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 25 min

Photo and Recipe By: Forkly

17. Perogy Kielbasa Skillet

Perogy’s do taste great on their own but once you try them in this skillet dish there might be no turning back. This recipe combines perogies, kielbasa, caramelized onions, and ooey-gooey cheese.

To save yourself time on those busy weeknights you’ll want to purchase store-bought perogies. The secret to making this dish extra creamy and cheesy is to combine cream cheese, sour cream, and chicken broth. The secret to preventing the sour cream from curdling is to add a bit of flour to the mixture. The best part is this meal takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photos and Recipe By: THE KITCHEN MAGPIE

16. Mini Chicken Pot Pies

When it comes to classic family dinners, chicken pot pie often makes the list. The idea of combining vegetables with chicken and a creamy filling all inside a flaky pie crust has stood the test of time. This is mostly because the savory flavor is so wonderful which makes you crave it time and time again.

This recipe takes the idea of chicken pot pies but serves them in adorable single servings, you can thank your muffin tin for that. You can have these mini delights made within 30 minutes and their single servings mean you and the family and eat them on your way out the door.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 20min

Photos and Recipe By: ONE LITTLE PROJECT

15. Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Why order takeout when you can make delicious Asian cuisine at home! Once again the Instant Pot can cook delicious meals in the knick of time!

With one pot and 30 minutes, you can be digging into this sweet and savory kung pao chicken! This dish is loaded with flavor and pairs wonderfully with a side of rice.

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 25 min

Photos and Recipe By: Forkly

14. Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta With Chicken

If you have a hard time prying your kids from their beloved mac and cheese you’ll want to give this recipe a try. The creamy texture alone will have them adding this dinner to their favorite list.

You can easily achieve this creamy garlic sauce by combining chicken broth with milk. Then by adding parmesan cheese will make this dish ooey-gooey fun for you and the kids.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photo and Recipe By: YELLOW BLISS ROAD

13. 7 Layer Dip Burritos

Dinners don’t always have to be extravagant to taste wonderful and to fill you up. This meal shows how a no-bake recipe can make a delicious meal that the whole family will enjoy.

7 Layer dip is often a popular appetizer that makes an appearance at many parties. However, if you combine those lovely layers into a soft tortilla you’ll have a filling and flavorful meal in no time. All you’ll need is 15 minutes of your time and easily accessible store-bought ingredients. From refined beans to creamy guacamole these burritos have all the flavors you’ll ever want.

Prep time: 15 min, Cook Time: 0 min

Photos and Recipe By: Six Sister Stuff

12. Easy Weeknight Leftover Chicken Quesadillas

Do you have leftover chicken sitting in your fridge? Then you need to whip together these delicious easy weeknight leftover chicken quesadillas! Quesadillas don’t get enough attention and considering they’re so easy to prepare we should make them more often!

All you need is pre-cooked chopped or shredded chicken (you can even use leftover chicken from this Instant Pot Whole Rotisserie Chicken), salsa, and shredded cheese of your choice! These quesadillas pair great with guacamole, sour cream, and our favorite, Copycat Chipotle Burrito Sauce.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 15-20 min

Photos and Recipe by: Forkly

11. Pepperoni Cheese Pizza Bombs

You might be tempted to grab a pizza on a busy weeknight but when you find out how easy these pizza bombs are to make you’ll surely want to make them on the regular instead.

One of the best parts about this recipe is that you don’t even have to make any complicated pizza dough. Instead, you’ll use store-bought crescent rolls. This will allow you to have a fluffy, flaky delicious pizza crust. By stuffing the crescent rolls with cubed string cheese, pepperoni, and pasta sauce you’ll accomplish a savory pizza bomb that will keep everyone wanting more.

Prep time: 2 min, Cook Time: 10 min

Photo and Recipe By: SIZZLING EATS

10. Chicken In Coconut Mango Verde Sauce

Busy weeknights don’t mean you can’t experiment or try something new. If you’re looking to add a little variety to your life when it comes to the food department then you’ll definitely want to try this.

This meal starts with stir-fried chicken and mixed vegetables and then ends with a creamy coconut mango Verde sauce. To make the sauce, it’s as easy as tossing all the ingredients into the blender and blending until velvety smooth. This meal pairs wonderfully with rice of your choice.

Prep time: 20 min, Cook Time: 10 min

Photos and Recipe By: CARLS BAD CRAVINGS

9. 30-Minute Instant Pot Orange Chicken Dump Dinner

This 15-Minute Instant Pot Orange Chicken is so popular that Forkly decided to transform those flavors into a quick and easy one-pot dump dinner! This idea essentially means that you dump all the ingredients into the pot and pressure cook.

In 30 minutes (or less) you’ll have yourself a delicious dinner, sides and all to enjoy! These citrusy and savory flavors will become a new favorite in your house!

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 25 min

Photo and Recipe By: Forkly

8. Skillet Meatloaf With Pan Gravy

Meatloaf is another family classic that has been making an appearance on the dinner table for many years. It’s savory and comforting but often takes what feels like hours to cook. This game-changing recipe allows you to enjoy the flavor and texture you love about meatloaf but in 20 quick minutes.

The secret to saving time is to make individual-sized meatloaf patties instead of just one loaf. To cook, you’ll saute them in a skillet. Then with the leftover drippings, you’ll make a creamy and irresistible gravy sauce to pour on top. They’re filling enough on their own but if you have some extra time you could even make mashed potatoes to pair.

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 15 min

Photo and Recipe By: COCO AND ASH

7. Bang Bang Fish Tacos

If the color of this meal doesn’t make a lasting impression on you, the flavor surely will. Fish tacos are often a restaurant classic but this recipe shows you how easy it is to make them in your own home too.

For convenience and to save yourself some time you’ll want to use store-bought fish sticks. However, the homemade bang bang sauce is what will truly shine in this recipe. If you haven’t had bang bang sauce before, the flavors are the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. This dinner comes together as easy as combing a cabbage slaw, fish sticks, bang bang sauce all on top of a soft tortilla.

Prep time: 16 min, Cook Time: 14 min

Photos and Recipe By: TASTE AND SEE

6. Quick & Easy Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta

Delicious Tuscan chicken pasta is essentially the more sophisticated version of mac and cheese. It’s so creamy and filling that your kids are still going to love it but you’ll love having something a little fancier than good ol’ mac and cheese!

Our Tuscan chicken pasta contains vibrant flavors of sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and is topped with fresh basil. The creamy sauce comes from cream cheese, milk, and parmesan cheese.

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 25 min

Photos and Recipe By: Forkly

5. Caesar Salad Wonton Cups

Sometimes, encouraging children to enjoy and eat salad can be a difficult task. Although, if you present the salad to them in a fun way they might feel more inclined to eat it. This recipe shows exactly how you can do that.

Cesar salad is delicious on its own. It’s often made of creamy Caesar dressing mixed with crisp romaine lettuce and then topped off with salty bacon bits, crunchy croutons, and cheese. To make it fun for the kids you’ll make edible bowls out of baked wonton papers that they surely won’t be able to resist.

Prep time: 20 min, Cook Time: 10 min

Photos and Recipe By: RECIPE TIN EATS

4. Lemon Chicken And Asparagus Foil Packs

Foil packs are a great way to achieve single servings ready in a hurry. They’re also great because you can grill them or bake them all year round and they’ll turn out perfect either way.

This recipe combines chicken and asparagus with zesty lemon. These foil packs also only take 30 minutes to make so you can have a protein-rich meal ready for the family swiftly.

Prep time: 10 min, Cook Time: 20 min

Photos and Recipe By: BLOG LOVIN’

3. Easy Weeknight Instant Pot Copycat Hamburger Helper

Much like mac and cheese, hamburger helper is also readily available at the grocery store in a boxed form. While the boxed variety is easy to make so is our homemade version!

Once again the Instant Pot allows us to make homemade versions of our comforting favorites. To replicate a true copycat version of Hamburger Helper you will need ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, egg noodles, and just a few other ingredients. Your picky eaters are bound to love this dinner too!

Prep time: 0 min, Cook Time: 26 min

Photos and Recipe By: Forkly

2. Instant Pot Taco Soup

We’ve looked at fajitas and we’ve discovered baked tacos but now it’s time to take those Mexican flavors we love and put them into a soup. Remember that Instant Pot you received as a gift? You’ll get to break it out and put it to hard work again.

This soup includes shredded chicken breast, protein-rich black beans, corn kernels, and loads of other flavors we love about tacos. To garnish this soup and give it an authentic taco flare you’ll want to add tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream, and a generous handful of shredded cheese.

Prep time: 5 min, Cook Time: 25 min


1. Better-Than-Takeout Low Carb Egg Roll in a Bowl

Egg rolls are delicious, but they’re crazy unhealthy because they’re usually deep-fried in those little wrappers! They’re also a lot of work to make from scratch and we actively avoid using a deep-fryer.

We’ve got a workaround here with this Egg Roll in a Bowl – essentially the filling of a traditional egg roll. It’s as delicious as it sounds and it’s quick to make with a little help from your Instant Pot.

Prep time: 2 min, Cook Time: 22 min

Photos and Recipe By: Forkly

ActiveBeat Author




The Incredible Health Benefits of Holiday Spices
Medically Reviewed Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE Food

The Incredible Health Benefits of Holiday Spices

There are so many delicious spices to use when cooking during the holidays. From cinnamon to ginger to vanilla, these spices both taste and smell amazing during the festive season. You may be surprised to know that holiday spices also come with a range of benefits for your health. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of your favorite holiday spices.

Read More about The Incredible Health Benefits of Holiday Spices

6 min read