ARTICLE / RECIPE ROUNDUP

Easy Weeknight Dinners So You Can Take a Holiday Break

Quick pasta dinners, simple salmon dishes, or uncomplicated casseroles, we have easy meals to help you keep up with the holiday hustle. Sponsored by Tyson.

Sponsored by Tyson.

Gift shopping, holiday office parties, family gatherings, kids’ activities, school programs, winter sports, work commitments — the holiday rush is real, and it can feel overwhelming. Trying to throw together a wholesome weeknight dinner for your family amid all the seasonal chaos can seem like a goal that’s next to impossible to achieve this time of year. But, with a little foresight and some smart planning, you CAN get a tasty meal on the table that doesn’t require a whole lot of time, stress or effort. Make things easy on yourself by trying out some of these low-maintenance recipes during the hectic holiday season:


Casseroles to the Rescue

One Pot Cajun Dirty Rice Casserole

One-Pot Cajun Dirty Rice Casserole by Jimmy Dean
Casseroles are usually fairly simple to assemble, not to mention heartwarming and delicious, and they don’t require much babysitting once they’re in the pot or oven. This one-pot wonder, for example, wakes up hearty familiar ingredients like rice, sausage and beans with flavorful Cajun seasonings to make everyone’s taste buds happy.


Explore Global Cuisine

Stir-Fry Thai Noodles with Chicken Meatballs

Stir-Fry Thai Noodles with Chicken Meatballs by Aidells
We all know that this time of the year is heavy on meat, turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing and other high-calorie, high-carb dishes. Break up the holiday monotony by introducing your family to the unexpected flavors of different international cuisines. Asian dishes often highlight fresh vegetables, lean proteins and light sauces, welcome relief from the usual gut-busting seasonal suspects. This quick-to-fix stir fry reinterprets chicken and noodles with tasty meatballs and snappy Thai flavors — ginger, garlic, fish sauce, lime and basil.


Cozy Up to Comfort Food

Slow Cooker Kielbasa Macaroni and Cheese

Slow Cooker Kielbasa Macaroni and Cheese by Hillshire Farm
When the weather outside is nasty and everyone’s been frantically rushing from one thing to the next all day, what could be more comforting than sitting down to a steamy, creamy bowl of mac and cheese? Slow cookers are a saving grace during the winter cooking season, doing all the work for you so dinner’s ready whenever you are. Adding in slices of kielbasa raises this traditional side dish to entrée-worthy status. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread, and you’ve got yourself a real dinner winner.


Simple Salmon

Easy Garlic-Herb Baked Salmon

Easy Garlic-Herb Baked Salmon by Yummly
Salmon’s a superfood, packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and protein while still low in calories. And, it’s one of the easiest and most forgiving seafoods to prepare. Topping meaty fillets with citrus and herbs, then wrapping them in parchment paper or foil for baking is a simple way to feed your family a fresh and healthy dinner (and makes cleaning up afterward a breeze). Shake things up by experimenting with different seasonings and sauces for new flavor twists. A side of roasted potatoes and some quick-steamed vegetables, and dinner is served.


Don’t Default to Delivery

Quick Margherita Naan Pizza

Quick Margherita Naan Pizza by Yummly
When time is tight, don’t just automatically reach for the phone to order a pizza, especially when it’s quick and fun to make your own at home using ready-to-go dough, English muffins or even naan bread as the base. Spoon on some tomato sauce, then top with thick slices of mozzarella and chopped fresh basil for a taste of summertime in Italy no matter what month the calendar says it is. Roasted veggies? Chickpeas? Sliced salami? Use your imagination for other innovative topping combinations.


Ignore the Clock

Anytime Ham and Cheese Frittata

Anytime Ham and Cheese Frittata by Pork
Breakfast for dinner is an unexpected way to mix things up on a weeknight, particularly when schedules are hectic and time to cook is at a premium. Kids love sitting down to a stack of pancakes any time of day. Or, crack a few eggs to whip up a quick omelet, scramble or frittata filled with cheese, veggies and meat. With toast or muffins, orange juice and some fresh fruit, breakfast can be a surprisingly satisfying way to end the day.


Pasta Perfection

One Pot Penne Pasta

One Pot Penne Pasta by Add a Pinch
Whatever shape you prefer, pasta noodles usually take less than 15 minutes to cook, and they’re versatile enough to accommodate any number of sauces and toppings. (Or even just a quick toss with butter and sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for picky eaters.) Spicy marinara with meatballs or hearty Bolognese stick to the ribs on cold winter nights, while creamy carbonara feels indulgent and decadent to eat. And if you can prepare everything in one pot, all the better.


Taco Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday…

Quick Chicken Tacos

Quick Chicken Tacos by Spend with Pennies
Tacos are a perennial family favorite, and fortunately, they don’t require much prep. Cook up some ground beef, ground turkey, chicken strips or fish; season with cumin, chili powder and garlic; and set out the toppings so everyone can assemble tacos to their own liking. Sub in chickpeas, tofu or jackfruit for a vegetarian/vegan option. Open a bag of chips and a jar of salsa, and you’re got a quick midweek fiesta. (Margaritas are optional.)

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