You’re tired of trying to come up with new dinner ideas, you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, and you’re over dinner not coming out the way you expected. Trust me, I relate. If you’re looking for quick dinner ideas for two that are easy and perfect for beginners, try out some of these simple meal tricks.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking. There’s nothing better than making something with my own two hands and having it come out perfectly.
Having said that, there’s nothing worse than spending hours pouring over recipes, picking something that sounds good, and then having it take you forever to make, or having it not come out as delicious as you expected.
Been there, done that.
It wasn’t until this quarantine that I has the revelation that I don’t always have to try new recipes to come up with something that tastes great. Because really, when you’re trying your best to avoid the grocery store, finding all the ingredients for more complex recipes just isn’t realistic.
And so, with that in mind, today I wanted to share some quick easy dinners for two, along with some tips that I’ve found helpful when trying to make 30 minute meals.
Are you ready to cut the amount of time you spend in the kitchen by half? Let’s dig in! (pun intended)
Top tips for coming up with quick, easy dinners for two:
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1. Always have frozen veggies on hand
Generally, when I’m trying to put together a meal, it will consist of some type of protein, a carb, and a veggie.
While a salad is always a great veggie option, one thing that I’ve found is super convenient for making quick meals is frozen veggies. You throw them in a pot boiling water, let them cook for a couple minutes, and you’ve got 1/3 of your dinner complete, and it literally took you opening up your fridge, grabbing a pot, and dumping some frozen veg in.
Sure, fresh vegetables are always preferred, but having those frozen vegetables on hand is super convenient and saves time, especially during this quarantine when we’re all trying to avoid the grocery store.
2. Sweet potatoes will become your new best friend
Trust me on this one, buy sweet potatoes in bulk. For the past month or so I’ve always had sweet potatoes in my fridge, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used them for those nights where I want to do a little more than frozen vegetables, but I’m not into coming up with anything too fancy.
Sometimes I’ll make my sweet potatoes into fries and season them with garlic salt, oregano, and pepper, and sometimes I’ll make them into delicious mashed potatoes (this is the recipe I use for mashed). Both are easy, and pretty much go with any meal that I can think of.
You can also do this with regular potatoes, but when I’m trying to make dinner a little more healthy and nutritious, I always feel a better about sweet potatoes being on my plate.
3. Buy pre-seasoned meat
Now, I’m not suggesting buying pre-packaged meats, which are probably full of stuff that isn’t very good for you. However, if you have a local butcher, or a market near you, there’s a good chance they sell meat that has been pre-seasoned.
For instance, I live right near a local market, and there’s a shop there that sells pre-seasoned kabobs, ranging from chicken, to beef, to pork.
While I, personally, haven’t been eating as much meat lately, my boyfriend still does, so I can easily throw these into the oven without doing anything, and I can rest assured that there’s fresh meat that tastes great ready for him.
Again, 1/3 of the meal is done when I do this. Plus, if I just do frozen veggies, 50% of this meal took me a total of 5 minutes to put together.
4. Pasta never fails as a side dish
I know pasta isn’t exactly the healthiest dinner idea, but sometimes, when you’re in a pinch, it’s the easiest thing to just throw onto your plate. Plus hey, it’s not like you have to do a giant bowl of pasta. Just as a side dish to go with chicken and salad, for example. So easy and something to look forward to when the rest of your meal isn’t exactly thrilling.
Also, keep in mind, there are so many pasta alternatives out there, like chickpea pasta, lentil pasta, and mung bean pasta. You can even buy pre-made zucchini noodles if you’re really into keeping it healthy. I also have a full post on some of my favorite low-carb foods that I’ve gotten from Amazon if you’re looking for healthy food options that you can get at the click of a button.
You can also try this side dish out with rice, which is always great, because you make extra rice and have it for other meals where you might want to put together some type of bowl (more on this below).
5. Anything can be made into a bowl
Speaking of bowl recipes, I love any dinner that is customizable, and to me, a bowl recipe never fails on this front (full list of easy bowl recipes here!)
Start with a base, like rice, quinoa, or pasta, top it with any vegetables you have around (simply roast with olive oil, salt, and pepper), throw on some type of sauce like tahini, lemon juice, a vinaigrette, or even just a pre-made pesto (there’s a great Kirkland brand one at Costco), and top it with hemp, chia, flax, peanuts, whatever!
You can also quickly make some chicken breast in the oven if you eat meat. When I have been cooking chicken breast and I’ve wanted to do it quickly, I’ve been using the guidelines from this recipe blog. I’ve also been seasoning with a lemon pepper spice that adds some flavour, but isn’t too overwhelming.
6. Set up a take-out night
Hear me out here: I know that suggesting you get takeout isn’t revolutionary advice when you’re looking for a quick dinner, BUT I have found that there is some value to KNOWING ahead of time what night you’re going to get takeout.
Well, I’ve found that when I know Saturday night is takeout night, I’m less likely to resort to it on another night of the week. This doesn’t exactly “simplify” dinner, but it does help motivate me to make dinner even when I don’t want to, and usually, when I don’t want to make dinner, having these easy healthy ideas at my disposable keeps me more accountable.
7. Keep a running list of healthy dinner ideas
And lastly, while most of the ideas on this list involve buying pre-packaged things, believe it or not, I do actually enjoy cooking. I’ll usually try to incorporate one new recipe every week, while also trying to remake some of my favorites. I’ve found that the more I make something, the easier it gets to make each time I make it.
And so, with that in mind, I thought I would share some of my tried-and-true favorites, so that you can rest assured this recipes aren’t overly complex, are perfect for beginners, and won’t involve a lot of clean-up.
Here are my top five easy recipes that I can recommend with confidence:
1. Grain Free Spaghetti Pie
Just made this for dinner last night. While it takes a little longer to bake in the oven, the actual amount of work you have to do to bring this meal together is very minimal. Not to mention, there’s not a lot of clean-up, and it’s a healthy alternative to your typical spaghetti and meat sauce. Highly recommend.
2. Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing
I know you might look at the number of ingredients listed in this recipe and feel a little overwhelmed, but in terms of actually putting this recipe together, it’s mostly just a matter of roasting some vegetables, baking some chickpeas, and throwing on a dressing. Trust me, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, and you’ll feel super healthy after eating this many vegetables.
3. Tex Mex Sweet Potato Hash
I’ve made this recipe multiple times now, and I love how it’s as simple as throwing everything together and it coming out with that awesome Mexican flavour. The only thing I would say is that the sweet potatoes tend to take a little longer to get tender than the recipes calls for, so take that into account. Other than that, I think this recipe is just about perfect.
4. Healthy Turkey Chilli
Again, this is one of those recipes that might take a little longer to come together, but the actual amount of effort you have to put into cooking this is perfect for a quick easy dinner for two. It’s just really just a matter of throwing some things into a pot and letting all the flavours mingle.
5. Egg Roll In A Bowl
Can you sense a theme here? I really like recipes where you throw everything into a pan/pot, and it all comes together. This is especially true when I’m trying out a recipe instead of relying on some of the meal tips from above. I don’t want to have to think about sides when I’m trying a new recipe, so I would rather do something like a casserole, soup, pasta, chilli, etc.
But yes, this recipe is definitely a must try. I think it might be the easiest recipe on the list, and I think it’s probably the one that my boyfriend enjoys the most. The only thing I would say is if you’re not a fan of spicy food then this might not be the recipe for you. If you can handle a little spice, though, then I highly recommend trying it out.
For more quick easy dinners for two, I have another post with some top recipes recommendations that you can check out.
If want to go beyond dinner and take a look through some of my favorite easy snack ideas, I also have a post on that.
And oh, don’t forget to check out my bento box ideas. These are perfect for easy, healthy lunch ideas.