Dread cooking dinner? These 27 easy recipes are about to change your mind

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If the thought of cooking dinner makes you want to order takeout yet again, these 27 easy recipes are about to change your mind. We’re talking no-nonsense, straightforward dishes that get you in and out of the kitchen without breaking a sweat. Forget about those complicated steps or the need for obscure ingredients; we’re keeping it simple so you can feed yourself and your family without the dread. So, roll up your sleeves (or don’t, because some of these are that easy), and let’s turn that kitchen from a no-go zone into your new favorite hangout spot.

A casserole dish filled with tater tots, shredded chicken, and corn, topped with melted cheese and green onions.
Chicken Tater Tot Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Reuben Bowls

A bowl of coleslaw with creamy dressing, garnished with green onions, served in a ceramic bowl with a fork.
Reuben Bowls. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you’re all about getting dinner done without the drama, these Reuben Bowls are a great pick. We’re talking 30 minutes from start to finish. You’ll brown some corned beef, toss it with coleslaw or shredded cabbage, add a scoop of sauerkraut, and top it with Swiss cheese. Give it a good drizzle of Thousand Island dressing, and boom — you’ve turned what could’ve been a bland evening into something a bit more exciting. It’s the kind of dish that’s made for those nights when you want something good but don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen.
Get the Recipe: Reuben Bowls

Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

Sausage and veggies sheet pan dinner with a spoon.
Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

For those who dread the kitchen, this Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner will change their mind about cooking. Just chop and toss zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, and sausages on a pan, and bake until caramelized and golden. It’s that easy. You get a full meal with minimal cleanup and stress. This dinner is not only quick to prepare but also packed with flavors that blend perfectly in the oven. It’s a straightforward way to enjoy a wholesome meal.
Get the Recipe: Sausage and Veggies Sheet Pan Dinner

Tuna Macaroni Salad

Close-up of a creamy pasta salad sprinkled with paprika and garnished with chopped herbs in a white bowl.
Tuna Macaroni Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If the kitchen isn’t your happy place, this Tuna Macaroni Salad might just change your tune. In 40 minutes flat, you’ve got a meal ready to serve. It’s the kind of recipe that’s perfect for anyone who’s new to cooking or just wants to keep things simple. Plus, it’s likely you’ve got everything you need already. Elbow macaroni, canned tuna, and a few other staples come together for a meal that’s straightforward and flexible. Want to mix it up? Throw in your favorite mustard, or swap out some mayo for Greek yogurt. It’s all about making dinner work for you, not the other way around.
Get the Recipe: Tuna Macaroni Salad

Shake and Bake Pork Chops

Two shake and bake pork chops on a plate.
Shake and Bake Pork Chops. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Shake and Bake Pork Chops are the go-to for a fast, stress-free meal. It’s particularly suited for those who might not be very experienced in the kitchen or anyone looking for a speedy meal solution. Just coat the pork chops in mayo and seasoned breading, and bake them to perfection in 25 minutes. No frying is needed, and you end up with crispy, flavorful chops that are a hit at any family dinner. This method is perfect for those evenings when you’re too tired to do anything complex but still want a meal that tastes like you did.
Get the Recipe: Shake and Bake Pork Chops

Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

A casserole dish filled with pasta and peas.
Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you dislike long cooking sessions, this Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole is your savior. With simple ingredients like egg noodles, canned tuna, milk, shredded cheese and peas, this dish comes together quickly. Just mix, top with breadcrumbs, and bake until golden. You’ll spend only 15 minutes preparing, leaving you more time to unwind. This dish is great for anyone looking for comfort food without the hassle. Plus, it’s a great option for next-day lunch leftovers.
Get the Recipe: Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Stuffed bell pepper casserole in a pan with a wooden spoon.
Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole brings all the hearty flavors of stuffed peppers without any stuffing involved. Mix ground beef, rice, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cheese, cook and then broil in the oven for a flavorful meal. Ready in 45 minutes, this casserole reduces your time in the kitchen and maximizes your enjoyment. It’s a crowd-pleaser that fills your home with an enticing aroma and might just make you fall in love with the simplicity of casseroles.
Get the Recipe: Stuffed Bell Pepper Casserole

Garlic Butter Chicken Bites

A plate of garlic butter chicken bites.
Garlic Butter Chicken Bites. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

These Garlic Butter Chicken Bites are perfect for when you’re short on time, and cooking is the last thing on your mind. Needing just chicken and a rich garlic butter sauce, you can whip up this dish in 20 minutes. It’s quick, easy, and packed with flavor, perfect for a busy weeknight. This dish shows that you don’t need a lot of time or ingredients to create something special. You might find these bites are just what you need to start enjoying cooking.
Get the Recipe: Garlic Butter Chicken Bites

Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Close-up of a dish featuring crispy tater tots topped with cheese and garnished with chopped green onions and herbs.
Chicken Tater Tot Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Chicken Tater Tot Casserole is the ultimate comfort food with minimum effort. Just layer tater tots over a creamy mixture of shredded chicken, corn, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese, and bake. Ready in less than an hour, this casserole is not only delicious but also a great way to get a hearty meal on the table without much work. It’s perfect for meal prep and freezes well, which could turn your hectic dinner times into peaceful evenings.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tater Tot Casserole

Cabbage and Sausage

A pan of cabbage and sausage garnished with fresh herbs.
Cabbage and Sausage. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Cabbage and Sausage is a simple yet delicious meal that takes just 30 minutes in one pan. The combination of tender cabbage and flavorful sausage cooks together quickly, making a great dinner that won’t keep you in the kitchen for long. This dish is a great introduction to those who aren’t fond of cooking, showing how easy and rewarding it can be to prepare a good meal. Plus, it’s so easy to clean up that you’ll have plenty of time to relax after dinner.
Get the Recipe: Cabbage and Sausage

Italian Sausage Soup

Creamy Italian sausage soup in a pot with a spoon and garnishes on the side.
Italian Sausage Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Italian Sausage Soup is a solid option if you want something hearty but don’t want to spend all evening cooking. It’s ready in 30 minutes and packs in lots of flavors with minimal effort. Brown some sausage, throw in broth, tomatoes, white onions, and heavy cream, and let it simmer to perfection. This soup shows that you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to enjoy a rich and hearty meal. It’s perfect for those evenings when you want comfort food quickly and with little effort.
Get the Recipe: Italian Sausage Soup

Spinach Chicken Bake

A serving spoon serving of creamy spinach chicken bake.
Spinach Chicken Bake. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you dread spending time in the kitchen, the Spinach Chicken Bake will change your mind. It’s a straightforward dish where you layer chicken, spinach, and cheese and just let it bake. Ready in just 30 minutes, this dish is easy, hearty, and filling. It’s perfect for those evenings when you want a good meal with minimal effort. This recipe is sure to make you appreciate the simplicity and joy of cooking a homemade meal.
Get the Recipe: Spinach Chicken Bake

Crock Pot Taco Soup

Two bowls of Crock Pot taco soup with cheese and sour cream.
Crock Pot Taco Soup. Photo credit: Plays Well With Butter.

The Crock Pot Taco Soup is a lifesaver on hectic days. Start with some beef, then let the slow cooker do its thing with diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, heavy cream, and taco seasoning. It requires minimal prep, about 20 minutes, and you can leave it to cook without watching over it. This comforting soup is a great way to unwind after a long day of doing a lot of work. It practically cooks itself. It’s a great dish for anyone looking to cut down on active cooking time but still wanting to enjoy a rich and flavorful meal.
Get the Recipe: Crock Pot Taco Soup

Cheesy Beef Casserole with Cauliflower Rice and Spinach

Cheesy beef casserole with cauliflower rice and spinach being spooned out of a baking dish.
Cheesy Beef Casserole with Cauliflower Rice and Spinach. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

For a relaxing evening, the Cheesy Beef Casserole with Cauliflower Rice and Spinach is your go-to. It involves simply mixing ground beef, cauliflower rice, spinach, and a generous amount of cheese before baking. This casserole is effortless, taking the stress out of dinner preparation and serving a full, delicious meal. Plus, it sneaks in some veggies, making it a balanced choice. This dish will show you that cooking doesn’t have to be complex to be rewarding.
Get the Recipe: Cheesy Beef Casserole with Cauliflower Rice and Spinach

White Bean Soup

A bowl of white bean soup with carrots and croutons.
White Bean Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This White Bean Soup is quick to prepare and packed with nutrients. It’s a one-pot meal that comes together in about 40 minutes with white beans, carrots, celery, fresh spinach, and croutons, making it a wholesome choice for a busy evening. The simplicity and comforting flavors of this soup make it a standout dish that encourages even the most reluctant cooks to enjoy their time in the kitchen. It’s perfect for anyone seeking a straightforward yet hearty and flavorful dinner.
Get the Recipe: White Bean Soup

Baked Ravioli

A close-up of a cheesy baked ravioli garnished with herbs, with a fork lifting a portion to show the melted cheese.
Baked Ravioli. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Baked Ravioli is a straightforward dish that shows cooking doesn’t have to be a chore. Just layer frozen cheese ravioli with marinara sauce and more cheese, bake, and in about an hour, you’ve got a delicious meal ready to serve and enjoy. This dish is perfect for those busy nights when you want something great but don’t want to deal with a complex recipe. It’s the kind of meal that might just make you fall in love with the idea of quick and easy home cooking.
Get the Recipe: Baked Ravioli

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

A fresh Caesar salad with chicken, croutons, tomatoes, and dressing, served in a large white bowl with a fork.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Quick, affordable, and easy, the Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad can be whipped up in just 25 minutes. This dish is perfect for assembling quick lunches or a fast dinner, utilizing pre-cooked chicken and ready-made Caesar dressing to save time. It’s a practical, simple recipe for those who want to enjoy a delicious meal without the lengthy preparation or clean-up. This salad might just convince you that making delicious food can be straightforward and fun.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Loaded broccoli cauliflower casserole in a baking dish garnished with green onions.
Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you’re looking for a hearty dinner that’s ready in no time, the Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole is the answer. Just toss broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, and bacon into a dish, bake, and in about 30 minutes, you have a scrumptious meal ready. It’s a great solution for anyone wanting to minimize their time in the kitchen but still serve a great meal. This casserole might inspire you to cook more often, realizing how easy and fun it can be to prepare a hot, homemade dinner.
Get the Recipe: Loaded Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad

A glass bowl of jalapeño popper chicken salad ingredients.
Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad is quick and easy, with just the right kick of jalapeños. It mixes cream cheese, chicken, bacon, green onions, and spices for a cool yet spicy flavor that’s the perfect dish for nights when you can’t face cooking but still want something with a bit of a punch. This salad is a game changer for anyone looking to prepare an appetizing and filling meal without turning on the stove, showing just how effortless and fun cooking can be.
Get the Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad

Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice

Creamy ground beef skillet with cauliflower rice with a wooden spoon.
Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

For those who dread kitchen time, this Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice is a quick solution. The dish blends ground beef, cauliflower rice, cheddar cheese, and mushrooms in a creamy sauce, all ready in just 30 minutes. It’s a straightforward meal that’s hearty and perfect for a complete dinner after a long day. This meal might just make you look forward to cooking as it turns kitchen time into your time to unwind.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Ground Beef Skillet with Cauliflower Rice

Creamy Garlic Chicken

A white skillet of creamy garlic chicken garnished with herbs.
Creamy Garlic Chicken. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you’re looking for a dish that’s easy yet feels gourmet, this Creamy Garlic Chicken hits the spot. Quickly sauté some chicken breasts, then let it simmer in a lush sauce of creamy garlic and Parmesan. It’s an effortless dish that’s fancy enough for guests but simple enough for a weeknight dinner. The minimal prep and cooking time make it great for those who want a great meal without a lot of work. You might even start to enjoy the cooking process with this no-stress recipe.
Get the Recipe: Creamy Garlic Chicken

Big Mac Salad

A person holding serving spoons in a bowl of Big Mac salad.
Big Mac Salad. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Enjoy all the flavors of a Big Mac without the effort of making a full meal with this Big Mac Salad. This dish mixes ground beef, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, pickles, and a homemade version of the iconic sauce for a quick, delicious meal. It’s perfect for when you need something filling yet fast. This salad brings the joy of fast food to your kitchen in a healthier form. It might just change your mind about cooking being a chore to something you can have fun with.
Get the Recipe: Big Mac Salad

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Slow cooker split pea soup in a slow cooker with a spoon.
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup is perfect for those who prefer to keep kitchen time to a minimum. Just put split peas, carrots, celery ribs, and ham into the slow cooker, set your preferred cooking time, and let it work its magic. It’s a great recipe for beginners or anyone who wants a hearty meal without staying busy in the kitchen. This slow-cooker method allows you to enjoy deep, rich flavors and might even inspire you to explore more slow-cooker recipes.
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Chicken Tortellini Soup

A bowl of chicken tortellini soup with vegetables and herbs.
Chicken Tortellini Soup. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

If you’re not into cooking, this Chicken Tortellini Soup could change your mind. Quick to make in just 40 minutes, this one-pot meal is hearty and full of great flavors, featuring shredded cooked chicken, cheese tortellini, and a mix of vegetables and herbs. It’s a perfect option for a filling weeknight dinner that doesn’t require much effort and will taste just as good the next day. If there are leftovers, that is. You’ll love how it’s both filling and easy to clean up after, making dinner feel less like a chore and more like a treat.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Tortellini Soup

Fajita Baked Chicken

Cheesy chicken fajita bake in a baking pan.
Fajita Baked Chicken. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Try this Fajita-Baked Chicken for a meal that’s both easy and packed with flavor. Just layer everything in a pan and bake for 30 minutes. It’s great for when you want something good but don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen. With the rich taste of fajita spices mixed with cream cheese and mozzarella, this chicken dish brings the excitement of Mexican cuisine to your dinner table without the mess. It’s perfect for those who want to spend less time cooking and more time enjoying.
Get the Recipe: Fajita Baked Chicken

Fried Cabbage with Bacon

A pan full of bacon and cabbage with a wooden spoon.
Fried Cabbage with Bacon. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

This Fried Cabbage with Bacon is ready in just 25 minutes, and it’s straightforward to make. It combines the hearty flavors of bacon with the crispness of cabbage, creating a dish that’s perfect for those evenings when you want a great meal without much work. Cabbage brings perfectly balanced flavors and textures to the dish, and it’s a particularly great veggie due to its high protein and low carb content, making it both healthy and affordable. This dish might just make you see cooking dinner in a new light by showing how simple and rewarding it can be to whip up something quick and delicious.
Get the Recipe: Fried Cabbage with Bacon

Broccoli Casserole

A casserole dish with broccoli and cheese in it.
Broccoli Casserole. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

Broccoli Casserole is a simple, no-stress dish that cooks up in 50 minutes. It combines broccoli, a creamy sauce, and cheese for a hearty meal that’s great for family dinners without too much time in the kitchen. Top the mixture with cheese and a layer of crushed crackers mixed with butter, and baked until golden for a crunchy finish.
Get the Recipe: Broccoli Casserole

Canned Chicken Patties

Chicken patties with broccoli on a plate.
Canned Chicken Patties. Photo credit: Real Balanced.

These Canned Chicken Patties are quick to make and surprisingly delicious. Just 20 minutes from start to finish, they’re a practical choice for a fast dinner. These patties are made from canned chicken, eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, ground sunflower seed meal or almond flour, and a mix of spices, including garlic powder and paprika. They turn simple ingredients into a main course that’s both delicious and convenient. This could be the recipe that makes you enjoy cooking, especially on days when you need a quick solution without sacrificing taste.
Get the Recipe: Canned Chicken Patties

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