Despite being surrounded by restaurants (I can count eight on our physical block alone), Scott and I eat dinner at home most nights. The reasons for this are the standard ones. It’s cheaper, it’s healthier, and we generate less waste with home cooked food.
As the primary meal planner, I sometimes start to run dry on dinnertime ideas (it happens to the best of us, even those who make a living inventing recipes). Many years ago, a blogger I followed posted a list of her favorite dinners, in an attempt to create a well of ideas that she could turn to when she hit a wall.
After years of thinking it would be a good thing to do for myself, here is my list. The things we like to eat for dinner, in no particular order.
- Turkey burgers (good side options include roasted sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, steamed and buttered broccoli, or cauliflower puree)
- Turkey meatloaf
- Teriyaki salmon with broccoli
- Joy’s chicken and ricotta meatballs (eat over braised kale when being healthy, over pasta or polenta the rest of the time)
- Roasted chicken, preferably on a bed of carrots and onions
- Chicken soup (typically made the same week as the roast chicken above)
- Ground beef soup
- Chicken or beef fajita salads (topped with the roasted corn salsa from my first book. So! Good!)
- Turkey tacos with cumin slaw
- Oven-roasted nachos (that’s what pictured up at the top of this post)
- Shredded chicken or ground turkey chili
- Broccoli or cauliflower and cheese soup
- Carrot soup with ham croutons
- Sausage, kale, and white bean soup
- Quinoa salad with lots of vegetables and feta
- Beef meatballs with feta and red onion
- Ranch steaks (they are little, quick-cooking steaks that I get from Meadow Run Farm and keep in the freezer. They defrost quickly and are perfect for nights when I didn’t plan well) with whatever sides are around
- Broiled turkey kielbasa with braised cabbage with leeks and lemons
- Pulled pork (braised in one part jam and one part apple cider vinegar)
- Sauerkraut soup (If you have leftover pulled pork or braised brisket, use that instead of the bacon)
- Split pea soup
- Curried red lentil soup (I only make this when Scott is out of town, as he’s not a curry fan)
- Tuna salad on salad greens
- Beef stew
- Pot roast (delicious and when I make it, I use a ton of vegetables and serve it on top of braised kale for extra greenery)
- Mexican rice bowl bar (best for when we have guests who have different dietary needs. Line up brown rice, beans, crumbed beef or turkey, chopped lettuce, salsa, grated cheese, sour cream, and avocado on the counter and let everyone build their own)
- Cauliflower mac and cheese (sometimes made without the mac and with a tiny bit of bacon [turkey or otherwise] for a lower carb version)
- Kale salad with avocado (this is another one I make only when Scott’s not home for dinner)
- Fried rice with a ton of vegetables (made almost exclusively with leftover rice from Chinese take-out)
- Spatchcocked chicken with Dutch oven broccoli (that Whole Chicken Project is a gold mine of useful recipes)
- Tamale pie
- Chicken pot pie
- Shepherd’s pie
- No-cook pasta sauce
- Pizzas made on a sunflower seed crust (these are a favorite when Scott is avoiding carbs)
And here are some things that aren’t currently part of my regular rotation, but I’d love to pull them in to our dinner hours occasionally. Though I’m not sure any of them will appeal to Scott.
- I love this one-pot pasta dish technique. I made it for my FN Dish column awhile back and really liked how easy and flexible it was.
- This lentil salad was a winner, but one I typically make to have for lunch. I’d like to convince Scott of its virtues.
- I loved this chicken and squash curry.
- This wild rice soup from Whole Grains for a New Generation is also a winner.
Thank you for this, it made me think about my own roster of dinner ideas. As I read some of yours, and followed the links, I think I may have found a couple of new recipes to try and remembered some old ones that had fallen out of favor as new ones took their place.
We are having a very mild winter but this year, more than any other, I have been drawn to soup over and over again. Soup, of all kinds, is so satisfying this year.
I’ve made soup three times this week and may make it again tonight! It’s just so good!
I chuckled as I read your list, because I think I have six things that I make. SIX THINGS. You have a whole arsenal.
But I bet your six things are delicious, Lauren!
since im doing this 30 day vegan in jan challenge, i did a food inventory last month. every single thing i eat has dairy or cheese in it. it was really eye opening for me. i made a list of things i already eat that are vegan and it was sparse. the good thing about this month is im being forced to make things outside my comfort zone and not fall back on my usual dishes. there are a few things in your list i am gonna try. but here are some of my regular dinners i usually make with a few of my new options;
chicken ala king (leftover chicken, cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, milk, peas, mushrooms, over basmati rice)
tomato pie (just dough with tomato sauce)
chicken tortellini soup with greens (chicken broth, cheese tortellini, chopped carrots, onions and celery, spinach and parm)
compost (can of beans, ground beef, tomatoes, taco seasoning, rice, over cucumbers, topped with blue cheese dressing)
cauliflower salad (roasted cauliflower, can of beans, can of corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, chopped onion, kens ceasar dressing tossed while the cauliflower is still warm)
quick pasta fagiola (cooked noodles, couple cans of cannelini beans with the liquid, tomato paste a little leftover tom sauce, garlic, parm)
persian lentils with cauliflower and potatoes (soaked lentils, broth, roasted potatoes and cauliflower, spices like moroccan or baharat, chopped and sauteed onion, chopped raisins or cranberries or currants, walnuts. cook the lentils in the broth with spices, add rest after 20 min and boil another 10.)
wild rice pilaf with butternut squash, cranberries and pecans
broccoli ravioli alfredo (boil broccoli and frozen ravioli, drain and toss with butter, sour cream and parm)
gnocchi (boil gnocchi, frozen peas or asparagus, and shrimp, drain and toss with butter and cheese)
ramen (boil ramen with water, peas, and half a packet of flavoring, saute onions in butter, drain and add ramen and other half of flavor packet, toss with a few slices or a handful of cheese like american or monterey jack).
Ann Marie! It’s an excellent list!
Great list, Marisa. I’m so glad you guys make those meatballs. I sometimes call them “my legacy” since they are my favorite recipe I’ve created so far. I need to investigate that sunflower seed pizza crust!
Joy, your meatballs are the best!