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20 Easy Weeknight Dinners

The "holiday season" always makes it sound like we do nothing but flitter from party to party, starting on Thanksgiving and continuing through New Year's Day. But unless you're leading a far more fabulous life than I am, you have to serve another 20 non-festive, Monday-to-Friday dinners before you ring in the new year. All while working, shopping, wrapping, planning and preparing for the actual celebrations.

Not to worry: I've got you covered. What follows is a list of easy, nutritious, kid-pleasing dinners—most of which you can have on the table in around 30 minutes. Some are my own Quick Supper recipes, some are from "Parents Need to Eat Too," and the rest are favorites from Mom.me. Bookmark this post, and no matter how chaotic things get over the next four weeks (or you know, during life in general), you'll always know what's for dinner.

Photograph by Debbie Koenig

What's your go-to quick dinner for this hectic time of year?

CHICKEN

1. Teriyaki Chicken Sauté boneless chicken thighs, then simmer a simple, sweet and salty sauce. Dunk the cooked chicken and serve.

2. Quick Lemon-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables (pictured above) It starts with boneless breasts, so it's ready in no time. Include potatoes for a one-pot dinner.

3. Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup This spices up prepared chicken broth and hits your soup bowls in less than half an hour.

4. Grilled Chicken Pesto Heroes Start with store-bought grilled chicken breasts and prepared pesto—tuck into Italian rolls along with jarred roasted red peppers, crisp lettuce leaves and provolone (or mozzarella).

5. Honey-Mustard Chicken Tenders Pack a sweet and spicy punch: Coat chicken tenders in honey mustard (or equal amounts of honey and mustard), then dip in panko or crushed pretzel crumbs. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes.

BEEF

6. Korean Mini-Meatloaves Take sweet & salty to an irresistible new level. Individual loaves are ready fast, too.

7. American Chop Suey This isn't remotely Chinese. It's one of my favorite dishes from childhood, a savory one-pot meal of ground beef, elbow macaroni, vegetables and seasoning.

8. Polynesian Flank Steak Only three ingredients! Combine 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce. Lightly score across the grain of a 3-4 pound flank steak, then marinate for 30 minutes. Broil or grill for 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

FISH

9. Potato Chip-Crusted Fish This delights kids just as much as you'd expect. And the same concept works equally well with chicken.

10. Honey-Soy Roasted Salmon It rivals Polynesian Flank Steak in simplicity: Whisk together 1/3 cup of honey and 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, and marinade 4 salmon fillets while you preheat the oven to 450°F. Transfer the fish to a baking dish and roast for 10-12 minutes.

11. Fish in Foil Packets As flexible as it is easy: Place a fish fillet (any mild white fish will do) in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil. Top with your favorite salsa, pesto, or simply lemon and herbs; then seal, and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. Open carefully—steam can burn!

12. Tuna & White Bean Salad Almost entirely pantry-based: Mix one can of rinsed and drained white beans with one can of drained and flaked tuna. Add in chopped olives, capers, roasted peppers, celery, herbs—whatever you've got that seems like it'll go—and toss with olive oil and lemon juice. Serve on greens or hero rolls.

VEGETARIAN

13. Scarpetta Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce It uses all the ingredients you'd expect, but the simple technique could be a game-changer.

14. Quick Pasta e Fagioli This makes me ridiculously happy on a blustery, wintry night.

15. Pasta Pistachio Pesto It's ready in less time than it takes to cook the pasta.

16. Italian Pasta Pie Make a little extra pasta one night, and the next turn it into this eggy, cheesy pie.

17. Spinach with Chickpeas and Fried Eggs It may sound odd, but this is one filling—and tasty—vegetarian dinner.

18. A Quesadilla Bar This pleases picky eaters, since they can customize (or, you know, use nothing but cheese). And because everyone's assembling his own, it's less work for you, too.

19. Ravioli Lasagna Use an ingenious trick to simplify a comforting favorite: Start with a layer of prepared pasta sauce, top with frozen ravioli and alternate until the baking dish is full. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake at 375°F until the cheese is browned and the dish is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

20. Garlicky Greens & Beans Super-easy, and the type of bean almost doesn't matter—I've used white beans, kidney beans, navy beans and chickpeas. Sauté minced garlic in olive oil for a few seconds, then add handfuls of chopped kale or other greens—add a splash of water if the pan seems dry. Add salt & pepper (and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if you like) and cook, covered, 4-5 minutes, then add one can of low-salt beans with about half of the canning liquid. Simmer another 2-3 minutes, and serve with lemon wedges and Parmesan.

Looking for still more inspiration? Check out Ten Things to Do with a Rotisserie Chicken. And of course there's always Breakfast for Dinner!

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