15 Easy Ways To Upgrade Your Weeknight Dinners

Revitalize your weeknight meals with 15 Easy Ways to Upgrade Your Weeknight Dinners. Learn simple tricks and techniques to elevate your everyday dishes, transforming them into restaurant-worthy fare.

Healthy Weeknight Meals Done In 30 Minutes
Practice meal planning to ensure a smooth and stress-free weeknight dinner routine.
Utilize kitchen gadgets and tools to upgrade and simplify your cooking experience.
Experiment with different flavors, spices, and herbs to enhance the taste of your dishes.
Try incorporating new cooking techniques, such as roasting or sautéing, to add variety to your meals.
Explore one-pot meal ideas for quick and easy weeknight dinners that require minimal cleanup.
Make use of leftovers in creative ways to reduce food waste and create new meals.
Prioritize nutritious ingredients and aim to include a balance of proteins, whole grains, and vegetables in your dinners.
Get inspiration from other resources and websites that offer unique weeknight dinner recipes.
Keep it fun and enjoyable by involving your family and trying out new recipes together.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and get creative in the kitchen – cooking should be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

For more weeknight meal ideas, try these 20 one-pot meal ideas for busy weeknight dinners or explore the delicious world of slow cooking with tips and tricks.

Cheese Crisps

Cheese crisps are a simple way to upgrade your weeknight dinners. They add freshness and crunch to any meal. It’s hard to go wrong with these, but be sure to serve them with something substantial like this eggplant pizza or quinoa bowls. 

The recipe below yields about a dozen small crisps, which will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.

Upgrade your cooking game with the right tools. Explore the top kitchen tools that can take your culinary skills to the next level.

The Easiest Pesto Sauce

Pesto sauce is so easy to make, and it can be used in so many ways. You can toss with pasta for a fresh, simple dinner or use it as a dip for veggies. It’s also great on sandwiches, grilled cheese (it’s where I got the idea from), pizza or any other dish you’d like to add some pesto flavor to!

The most important thing with making this sauce is using good quality ingredients—cheap olive oil will make your sauce taste like cheap olive oil. 

And if you’re going to spend money on pine nuts, make sure they’re not rancid by buying them in small quantities and keeping them tightly sealed in the freezer until needed. 

If you’re lucky enough to live near an Italian grocery store that sells whole basil leaves then buy them there instead of dried basil because they tend be fresher and have better flavor than what comes out of little jars at grocery stores these days!

Tomato Bread Soup

  • In a large pot, combine stale bread pieces, onions, and garlic.
  • Add herbs like basil and parsley.
  • Stir in spices like cumin and oregano.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste.
  • Pour in chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you’re making this vegetarian). You can also use water—you just won’t get the same flavor profile as with broth!

Baking enthusiasts, here’s the ultimate list of kitchen gadgets for bakers that will make your baking experience even better.

Turn Rice Into A Meal

Rice is a great way to bulk up your weeknight meals, while also offering a healthy dose of fiber and protein. 

Try adding in veggies, meat, cheese or beans for an easy-to-prepare, filling meal. Rice can be served as a side dish or as the main dish—it’s versatile enough to be enjoyed warm or cold.

You can make this simple recipe with just one pot and it’s ready in 30 minutes! Here’s how:

Rice Meal InspirationDescription
Chicken Fried RiceClassic dish made with cooked rice, chicken, vegetables, and soy sauce.
Shrimp and Sausage JambalayaA flavorful Cajun rice dish with shrimp, sausage, and aromatic spices.
Vegetable BiryaniFragrant Indian rice dish with a variety of vegetables, spices, and basmati rice.
Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry with RiceTender beef strips stir-fried with teriyaki sauce and served over steamed rice.
Kimchi Fried RiceKorean-inspired dish made with cooked rice, kimchi, vegetables, and sometimes topped with a fried egg.
Mediterranean Rice BowlA healthy bowl featuring seasoned rice topped with grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, and tzatziki sauce.
Mexican Rice and BeansA delicious combination of rice, beans, and spices often served as a side or main course in Mexican cuisine.
Risotto with MushroomsCreamy Italian rice dish made with Arborio rice, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese.
Pineapple Fried RiceSweet and savory Thai dish featuring rice stir-fried with pineapple, shrimp, vegetables, and cashews.
Sushi Roll BowlDeconstructed sushi bowl with sushi rice, sliced raw fish or cooked proteins, and a variety of toppings.

Meatballs And Couscous

Meatballs and couscous are a classic dinner combination. With lean ground beef, grated zucchini, parsley and a touch of tomato sauce you’re basically eating a healthy version of spaghetti and meatballs. 

Serve it with couscous (or rice if you don’t have any on hand) and some garlic bread for an easy weeknight dinner that will make everyone happy!

2 – 3 pounds lean ground beef

2 – 3 eggs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper to taste

Oven-Baked Potato Fries

Oven-baked potato fries are a quick and easy way to elevate your weeknight dinners. Sprinkle them with spices and bake at high heat, and you’ve got yourself a flavorful side dish in no time. 

You can also top them with cheese or yogurt dressing for an added kick of flavor—the options are endless!

Make meal prep a breeze with these innovative kitchen tools. Discover how you can revolutionize your meal prep and save time in the kitchen.

Roasted Vegetables With Balsamic Glaze

Roasted vegetables are one of the easiest ways to make your weeknight dinners healthier, and I promise that this balsamic glaze won’t make them taste like diet food. 

In fact, you can serve these roasted veggies as a main course or side dish at any time of year.

In a large bowl, toss the cut vegetables (I used red onions, bell peppers and portobello mushrooms) with olive oil until coated evenly. 

Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes (or longer if you prefer). 

Remove from oven when tender and browned nicely around the edges. While still hot, drizzle about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar over top of each batch of veggies in batches tossing well after each addition so that all sides get coated evenly and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving warm!

Grilled Chicken With Warm Spinach Salad

  • Add spinach to your salad.
  • Grill chicken and vegetables with a dressing made with lemon juice, or use a combination of reduced fat cheese and low-fat mayo.
  • Use whole wheat bread instead of white bread for sandwiches.
Recipe NameDescription
Grilled ChickenJuicy and flavorful
Warm Spinach SaladNutritious and satisfying

Spiced Beef And Cauliflower Rice Bowls

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Spiced beef
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Cooked vegetables (we chose red peppers and carrots, but you can use whatever you like)

Here’s how to make it:

Cook your spiced beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower rice, then cover and cook for 5–8 minutes until hot throughout. Stir in your cooked vegetables just before serving. If desired, top each bowl with an egg or two!

Don’t let busy schedules hinder your meal planning. Check out the Busy Person’s Guide to Meal Planning and learn efficient strategies to have delicious and healthy meals ready in no time.

7-Ingredient Bean And Cheese Burritos

Bean and cheese burritos are the perfect weeknight dinner. You can make them ahead of time, freeze them for later use, or even assemble in advance and bake just before serving. 

This recipe requires only 7 ingredients and comes together quickly so you’ll be able to sit down at the table with your family sooner rather than later.

In a medium-sized bowl mix together:

  • 1 cup refried beans (or mash your own beans)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup salsa (mild or spicy)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)

Seasoned Black Beans And Corn Over Rice

You’ve probably had black beans and rice before, but this healthy dinner takes it to the next level. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Canned or pre-cooked black beans (drained)
  • Fresh corn kernels (can be frozen)
  • Chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish if desired. Cilantro adds a fresh flavour that contrasts well with the other ingredients. It also contains antioxidants and is good for digestion!
  • Lime juice from 1 lime – this adds a kick of acidity without being too sour, which helps bring out all the flavours in your dish!
  • Ground cumin – adds a nutty taste and aroma to your dish

Make These Upgrades And Your Weeknight Dinners Will Be Off The Hook

You’re gonna love these upgrades.

  • They’re easy to make, even for a weeknight dinner.
  • They’re quick to make, even for a weeknight dinner.
  • They’re healthy (and delicious).

Simplify your weeknight dinners with these easy and delicious one-pot meal ideas. Explore 20 one-pot meal ideas that are perfect for busy evenings without compromising on flavor and nutrition.


This is just a sampling of some of the simple upgrades you can make to your weeknight dinners. Let us know which ones are your favorites and if you have any other ideas for how we can upgrade our dinners!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to explore for more inspiration and ideas to upgrade your weeknight dinners:

7 Ways to Easily Amp Up Your Weeknight Dinners: Discover simple yet effective methods to elevate the flavors and excitement of your weeknight meals.

Weeknight Dinners You Haven’t Tried Yet: Uncover a collection of innovative and delicious recipes to bring variety and freshness to your weeknight dinner table.

Weeknight Dinner Ideas: Tips and Tricks: Gain insightful tips and tricks from the Bon Appétit test kitchen, providing you with new ideas and techniques to enhance your weeknight cooking.


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to upgrading weeknight dinners:

How can I make my weeknight dinners more exciting and flavorful?

Adding fresh herbs and spices, experimenting with different marinades, and trying new recipes from a diverse range of cuisines can help bring excitement and flavor to your weeknight dinners.

Are there any time-saving tips for preparing weeknight dinners?

Yes, you can save time by prepping ingredients in advance, utilizing kitchen gadgets like slow cookers or Instant Pots, and opting for recipes that require fewer steps or have shorter cooking times.

What are some healthy yet delicious weeknight dinner options?

Incorporating lean proteins, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables into your meals can help create healthy and delicious weeknight dinners. Look for recipes that emphasize nutritious ingredients and cooking methods.

How can I add variety to my weeknight dinners without spending too much time in the kitchen?

Exploring different cuisines, experimenting with new ingredients, and trying out diverse cooking techniques can bring variety to your weeknight dinners without requiring excessive time or effort.

Are there any resources or websites with a wide range of weeknight dinner recipes?

Yes, several websites provide extensive collections of weeknight dinner recipes, including popular cooking blogs, recipe databases, and online food magazines. These resources can offer inspiration for new and exciting dishes.