35 Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights

It’s the end of the school year around here which means our schedule is full of festivities, which we are extra thankful this year, but that means we are often in a time crunch around dinner time. 

This often means meal planning goes out the window, but if there was ever a time to meal plan, THIS IS IT.

The goal of meal planning can be different in different seasons, in this season my goal is to have a simple plan for easy meals that can be made in a hurry.  Knowing there’s a plan and groceries in the fridge makes a huge difference.  

So, what are some easy meals that can be planned ahead?  Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy to feed your family.

Psst…I record my weekly meal plan in my Simple Purposeful Living meal planner.  You can get yours here.

meal planner with accessory kit

35 Easy Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights

Italian Meal Ideas

Italian Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans

This recipe is an easy all-in-one meal you can make ahead and pop in the oven later.  On busy weeks, I usually make it early in the week so we have some leftovers.    Find the full recipe here.


There is nothing faster than boiling up some noodles while you warm up a jar of sauce.  You can even throw in some cubed up pre-cooked sausage or frozen meatballs for a quick protein.  


Speaking of pasta, ravioli or tortellini is another great option because they usually come stuffed with a protein which eliminates the need to add one to the dish.  Warm up your favorite jarred pasta sauce while you boil your ravioli or tortellini. 

costco ravioli lasagna bake

Easy Ravioli Bake

This is another great make ahead meal if you know you are going to have a busy evening.  Whip this up over the weekend or earlier in the day and pop it into the oven right before dinner.  Grab the easy ravioli bake recipe here.

Chicken Nugget Parmesan

This is so simple but another fan favorite.  We get the all-white meat chicken nuggets and cook them.  Cut up the chicken nuggets and layer on top of the spaghetti and sauce and garnish with parmesan cheese.  

heart shaped pizza valentine's day activity ideas


We always have a a few frozen pizzas on backup in our freezer to use in a pinch.  We also love these simple pizza recipe variations that are perfect for a quick dinner.

Pizza Quesadillas

Easy Garlic Bread Pizzas

Easy Peasy Pizza Bread

Easy Pizza Crescent Roll-ups

Easy Pizza Crescent Roll-ups

Slow Cooker Meals

On busy weeks, slow cooker meals are my favorite.  You can prep them in the morning and let them cook all day and they usually offer great leftovers which you can plan on eating later on in the week for another meal.  Cook once, eat twice I say!

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

My kids love any meat slow cooked.. This slow cooked pot roast recipe can be served with mashed potatoes and veggies or served as a sandwich shredded on a bun. Get the full recipe here.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This slow cooker recipe with just 6 ingredients is perfect for a busy weeknight.  The soup will be ready to serve with some guacamole, sour cream, tortilla chips, and shredded cheese for dinner.  Find the recipe here.

Chicken Stuffing Bake

This is another great meal you can make ahead or make in the slow cooker.  Read the full recipe here.

Sweet BBQ Meatballs

These meatballs are SO easy to throw in the slow cooker and make a delicious meal served over rice.  In a hurry?  Make minute rice, I won’t tell!  Get the easy recipe here.

leftover hard boiled eggs ideas, breakfast

Breakfast for Dinner

Scrambled Eggs & Toast

Whip up some scrambled eggs in a hurry and serve with some fruit and a side of toast.  I like to make an extra batch of bacon on the weekends and just rewarm it quickly in the microwave.

Pancakes & Frozen Breakfast Sausage

Mix together a quick batch of pancakes and cook up some frozen breakfast sausage.  You could even make an extra batch of pancakes over the weekend and rewarm them for dinner during the week.

Make Ahead Egg Bake

This easy egg bake makes a perfect meal that you can enjoy for leftovers all week as well.  It comes together in under 10 minutes and then you just need to bake it.  

Breakfast Tacos

Whip up some scrambled eggs for the taco protein and serve with traditional taco sides for a fast and different spin on tacos.  You can even add in some bacon bits or pre-cooked bacon. 


Much like slow cooker meals, casseroles can be made ahead and popped in the oven right before dinner!  If your kids are old enough (like mine are), you can even have them put it in the oven if you aren’t home.

Baked Super Nacho Casserole

Our entire family loves Mexican food.  This super nacho casserole makes a great warm appetizer too and we serve it with chips, sour cream, and guacamole.  Check out the recipe here.

Baked Enchiladas

Need a variation to the typical taco dish.  Try this easy baked enchiladas.  You can make ahead and refrigerate or freeze then bake for a yummy weeknight meal.  If you are in a hurry, use rotisserie chicken!  Check out the recipe here.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

We love chicken cordon bleu (which is another great freezer staple for a fast meal).  This casserole can be whipped together in under 10 minutes and can be baked later so it makes for an easy meal to serve with a a steamed vegetable and fruit.  Get the full recipe here.

Chicken Pot Pie

This delicious and insanely easy recipe is perfect for making ahead and freezing.  It has just 4 ingredients. Serve it up with some bread!  Check out the full recipe here.

shredded chicken tacos shredded chicken meal ideas

Other Easy Fan Favorites

Walking Tacos & Taco Salads

If you never have had a walking taco, you need to try it.  My kids ask for them weekly.  It’s a great twist on a favorite meal around here, tacos!   They are great for a crowd too!  Read the full recipe here.


Some nights just call for a sandwich.  Whether that means we are eating on the sidelines of a game or we need to rush out the door.  Chicken salad is perfect to eat with crackers or made into a sandwich.  I love adding pecans and apples in the fall!  Check out the recipe here.

You can even have everyone make their own by making a “sandwich bar”.  Place all the fixings on the counter and have everyone make it how they like it.


Switch up a traditional sandwich and make it a wrap.  BLT wraps are one of our favorites.  Check out the recipe here.  Another favorite is mixing a bagged Caesar salad kit with some grilled chicken or cooked chicken nuggets and then filling a wrap with it.  So delicious and so easy!

Baked Sandwiches

Swich up a traditional cold lunchmeat salad and try baking it or cooking it on the griddle.  Hot turkey and ham sandwiches are delicious and you can’t beat a grilled cheese.  Check out this baked turkey pesto sandwich too.

Grilled Meat & Veggies

Grab some meat and grill it up!  While its cooking, cook some vegetables your favorite way (I love these green beans) and serve with some fresh fruit for an easy and healthy meal.

Stir Fry

Grab a stir fry kit at the store and add your favorite protein for a quick meal.

Sloppy Joe’s

Ground up some beef and add your favorite marinara sauce to the meat and serve on buns for a quick and delicious meal that usually offers leftovers for another night’s meal!  

Baked Potato Bar

Cook up some potatoes in the slow cooker or oven and offer toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and steamed broccoli.

Mac N’Cheese

There is no shame in whipping up some macaroni and cheese. Some nights just call for it!  

Hot Dogs

Grill up some hot dogs.  They grill super fast and serve with some fresh vegetables and fruit for an easy side.

Snack Tray | Charcuterie Board

We have a snack tray every Sunday night.  We fill it with leftovers, cheese & crackers, vegetables, fruit and whatever we can find in the pantry.  Then, we eat off of one tray which the kids think is amazing.

Salad Bar

Cut up all the salad fixings and have everyone make a salad their way!  The options for protein are endless from canned tuna to chopped chicken nuggets, chopped leftover ham or lunch meat.  We like to include a variety of raw veggies, dressings, shredded cheese, chopped hard boiled eggs, croutons and sunflower seeds.


My husband’s grandmother called them “planned-overs” which I love.  She planned for leftovers and you should too.  Every week, we eat leftovers at least once and I plan for it in my meal planner (get your meal planner here).

Freezer Staples

On busy weeks, I always make sure I have some of our favorite freezer staples on hand just in case we need to pull something out of the freezer.  Things like taquitos, chicken nuggets, mini corn dogs, pizza rolls or frozen pizza.  Some nights just call for something super simple and you can offer some raw vegetables and fruit to go along with it.

spiral bound 52 week meal planning journal

Just Remember…

Simple meals make dinner easy.  Some seasons just call for that.  When life gets busy, it’s easy to toss out meal planning but taking 20 minutes to create a plan for the week will help so much.  It doesn’t have to be fancy to feed your family, you can plan REALLY simple meals.  You will be glad you did, I promise.

Do you have any go-to meals that you make repeatedly?  What does your family always request? Hands down we have to have a Mexican dish of some kind every single week!  Jus


Want more help with meal planning? 

Download the FREE 50 Meal Ideas Printable

12 Easy Shredded Chicken Recipes

Easy Grilled Chicken Recipe Ideas

Simple Kid-Friendly Lunch Ideas

25 More Simple Meal Ideas

Simple Purposeful Living Meal Planner


meal plan journal

I write down all my meal ideas for the week in the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  Get yours here.   

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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35 quick and easy weeknight dinners

Simple 7 Day Aldi Meal Plan

Aldi is my go-to for great groceries on a budget.  Aldi keeps their prices low because many of their products are not name brand.  However, if you are like me you don’t want to waste your time or your money on food that doesn’t taste good so I rounded up 7 simple Aldi meal plan ideas.  These 7 meals are perfect for a busy night and can easily be scaled up or back to accommodate the size of your family.


7 Simple Aldi Meal Plan Dinner Ideas


Italian Grilled Sandwiches

One of my favorite things to get at Panera is a toasted panini sandwich.  It’s cooked on the griddle and so yummy.  Grab some sourdough or ciabatta bread, pesto sauce, sliced cheese, turkey and salami for this recipe and serve it with a Caesar salad bagged kit.

To make the sandwiches, lightly brush both pieces of bread with a little bit of butter.  Then, brush the inside of one the bread slices with pesto.  Top with the meat and cheese.  Grill on a hot skillet.  Cover to allow the cheese and meat to warm.  


Crab & Tomato Ravioli

Aldi has lots of ravioli options.  They have ravioli in the dry pasta aisle, as well as in the refrigerated and freezer section.  Choose a ravioli that works for your taste buds and wallet.  Cook the ravioli based on the package directions.

To make a simple sauce, buy a package of cherry tomatoes and slice in half.  Liberally coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat.  When the olive oil is warm, place the cherry tomatoes in the pan.  Add 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning or fresh basil.  Allow the cherry tomatoes to cook down.  

Once the pasta is cooked, place the pasta in with the tomatoes and toss to coat.  Serve the tomato and crab ravioli with a bagged Caesar salad kit for a simple meal you can make in under 15 minutes.

If you would prefer to not make your own sauce, grab a marinara sauce of your choice at the store and warm up.  Then, toss the pasta and sauce together before serving.


Meatballs & Steamed Vegetables

Pre-made meatballs are perfect for a quick meal.  You can toss them in a slow cooker with marinara sauce or try this easy sweet BBQ meatball recipe for a different twist.  Serve with some steamed vegetables and a side of fruit.


Marinated Pork Loin & Risotto


You can really change up meat with a marinade.  Aldi has lots of great pre-marinated meat choices in the refrigerated meat section.  Check out their marinated chicken options as well.  In the summer, we love to grill these marinated pork loins but in the winter I just put it in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. 

We serve it with rice or this delicious risotto found in the dry pasta section at Aldi.  Pair it with a mixed vegetable medley and fruit and you have yourself a delicious meal for a busy weeknight.  If you have a larger family or want leftover, grab two pork loins!


Pancakes & Sausage


This meal is perfect for a quick breakfast, a babysitter or a SUPER simple busy weeknight meal.  Just reheat the pre-cooked sausage and warm up some pancakes and you have yourself a meal faster than you can go to a drive-thru.   We often pair breakfast for dinner with smoothies, check out this super simple smoothie recipe.


Slow Cooker Pot Roast 


This is a fan favorite at our house and it’s so SIMPLE you will never make a pot roast any other way.  Grab the Pub Style pot roast marinade at Aldi.  It’s located by the pickles and dressings.  Then, just put the pot roast in the slow cooker and top with the marinade.  

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Pull out of the slow cooker and shred.  You can strain the juices and repour in with the meat to keep the meat moist.

We served it with leftover sourdough bread from the panini sandwiches, vegetables, and white rice.  


Breakfast Casserole



A breakfast casserole is a perfect weekend morning meal or brunch.  Get the full directions to this easy and simple egg bake recipes here.  

Serve this easy egg bake up with some cinnamon rolls and fresh fruit for a simple weeknight meal.


Just Remember…

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated.  You can keep it simple, on budget and prepare delicious meals for your family.  If you haven’t shopped at Aldi, I would encourage you to check it out.  What are your favorite meals to make with ingredients you find at Aldi?  Let me know in the comments.


Need help with meal planning?  

I wrote down this recipe along with the rest of my meal ideas for the week in the Simple Purposeful Living 52-week meal planner.  Get yours here.   Join the Meal Plan Simple on Purpose group on Facebook for more meal planning ideas and support.  Join here.



You might also like –

7 More Simple Aldi Meal Ideas
10 Best Products to Buy at Aldi
Favorite Aldi Products


Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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Simple Snack Tray Supper


Snack trays are the family-friendly version of the ever-popular charcuterie boards and I have never met a charcuterie board I didn’t like.  Snack tray suppers are going to be your new best friend.  Try a snack tray for your next family meal and your kids will think you are a genius, you are welcome!



Snack Tray Supper – A Happy Accident

Our Sunday night snack tray supper tradition started by accident which is usually how all good traditions get started!  We were running low on food since I grocery shop on Monday mornings.  We are on a tight budget at the moment since we are adopting so going out to eat was not an option.

So, I just gathered up all the random leftovers and pantry staples we had on hand and put them on a big tray.  To make it a little more fun, since I wasn’t sure how it would go over, I pulled out a waterproof picnic blanket and we ate our snack tray supper in the living room.



Love at First Bite

It was love at first bite!  Not only could my kids pick what they wanted to eat off the tray, but we also sat on a picnic cloth in the family room.  From my perspective, I fell short and from their perspective I was genius!  Just goes to show, we can be awfully hard on ourselves as moms!



A Weekly Tradition

I now write “snack tray supper” for every Sunday on my weekly meal planner (get yours here).   The snack tray is never the same week to week because it’s based on what we have leftover.  Some weeks it’s heavy on the popcorn (because I always have popcorn in the pantry) and other weeks it’s heavy on refrigerated leftovers.    I thought I would share a few ideas to help you get started with your own snack tray supper tradition.



What to Put on the snack tray?

Nothing is off limits and the options are endless.  Literally, start by pulling out leftovers from your fridge and your pantry.  I try to include lots of different food groups but some weeks the pantry and refrigerator are a little leaner than others.   Here’s a list of popular favorites for our family!

Raw sliced vegetables

Fruit – Dried and fresh cut

Cheeses – string cheese, sliced cheese, block cheese, spreadable cheeses

Cured meats – salami, summer sausage, braunschweiger, jerky



Pita Chips



Dips – Hummus, Salsa, Guacamole, Queso Aldi’s Frozen Buffalo Chicken Dip, Aldi’s Frozen Spinach Artichoke Dip, Ranch Dressing, layered dips, yogurt dips


Trail mix



You can even add in desserts and candy or you could make a separate dessert snack tray!  Now that I say that out loud, my kids are going to want that stat.  The options are endless when it comes to snack trays.  You can be as creative and in as many things as you want.  It’s perfect finger-food and kids love the chance to choose their own adventure when it comes to dinner.


Snack Trays Are Not Just for Dinner

Snack trays aren’t just perfect for dinner, they are perfect for lunches and get-togethers too!  Summer is coming, save on the dishes and make up a snack tray and eat on the driveway or outside in the grass.  Avoid sweeping and your kids will think it’s the coolest thing ever!  Take it on the road!  The options are endless.


Before you know it, your kids will be making snack tray suppers for their dolls!  How cute is that pint-size snack tray supper?


Do you want more meal ideas?


If you said yes, sign up here to get access to my free meal idea printable with over 50 meal ideas to help you get started meal planning today!

Snack Tray Supper Must-Haves

You might also like…

7 Steps to Meal Planning 
Aldi 7-Day Meal Plan + Grocery List
25 Simple Dinner Ideas
10 Kids Lunch Ideas
Easy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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