The Best Simple Dinners to Power Your Meal Plan

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(Image credit: Christine Han)

More than anything else, I want ease and simplicity in the dinners that fill my meal plan. Of course I want meals that taste good and work with my weekly food budget, but the easier the better — especially now that summer is here, my calendar is filled with weekends away, and I want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time outside.

These 10 super-simple dinner recipes let me do just that by embracing smart shortcuts and grocery-store solutions, and still getting a meal on the table that everyone’s excited about.

Grab a bag of frozen tortellini, a jar of your favorite pesto, a couple pints of cherry tomatoes, and a jar of roasted red peppers, and you’re looking at a simple and satisfying summer dinner in about 10 minutes.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Rice noodles are one of my favorite pantry staples since they don’t actually require cooking — just a good soak in boiling water. The dressing can be made well in advance and is easy to scale up and use as a salad dressing during the rest of the week.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This weeknight staple is always in heavy rotation when we’re inundated with summer squash. Classic tomato salsa and salsa verde are my top picks for this dish, although any kind of salsa will work.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

If dinner means cheese and a baguette on those night you don’t want to cook, this is how to dial it up a notch with no extra effort.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Making stir-fry is all about the prep. Whisking the sauce and cutting the veggies and chicken take up the bulk of the time in this weeknight dinner. Once you hit the stove, it all comes together in a flash.

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(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

This simple dinner comes together in minutes and is totally satisfying at the end of a long day. If you have any leftover chicken or steak in the fridge, go ahead and toss it in.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I think we can all agree that there is something eternally satisfying and soothing about buttered pasta. This version ups the ante with nutty brown butter, golden toasted panko, and a double dose of cheese.

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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Lean on store-bought shortcuts, like pre-shredded cabbage or broccoli slaw and salsa, to top off these super-budget-friendly tacos.

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This is why you should keep a package of pie crust in your freezer at all times. It’s the time-saving secret that transforms summer tomatoes, creamy feta, and herbs into a fast-and-fancy dinner that’s surprisingly easy to pull off any night of the week.

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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

When your top priority for dinner is a meal that’s easy as can be, pick up a package of spiralized zucchini, a jar of sauce, and a bag of frozen meatballs and you’ve got a satisfying dish.

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