While cooking dinner at home can be a daunting task for many people, it is important to remember that home-cooked meals offer many benefits. They are healthier, cheaper, and bring families together. The key is having go-to recipes that are easy yet elevated so you can get dinner on the table without feeling stressed.
The Importance of Home-Cooked Meals
With hectic schedules, it’s tempting to order takeout or grab fast food for dinner most nights. However, nothing beats the comfort and nutrition of a home-cooked meal. Studies show that families who eat home-cooked dinners together have improved communication and stronger relationships, and kids who grow up eating home-cooked meals are also more likely to have healthier diets as adults.
Even if you are short on time, preparing simple yet delicious meals at home is worthwhile for your health and budget.
Here are some delicious dinner recipes to help you in the kitchen.
1. Stovetop Brown Gravy
Let’s jump right to the classic flavors of home-style brown gravy that pairs perfectly with almost any meal. For those who love detailed instructions, check out this homemade brown gravy recipe for a step-by-step guide.
Start by bringing beef broth to a boil. As it bubbles, sprinkle in garlic powder, salt, and pepper, followed by a splash of Worcestershire Sauce for that unique tang. If you are leaning toward a richer taste, consider a hint of optional onion powder. As the aroma starts to build, mix cold water with corn starch in a separate bowl until it’s smooth. Add this mixture to the simmering broth, stirring in steadily until the gravy adopts a thicker consistency. If you accidentally go too thick, a bit more beef broth will bring it back to the right texture. And here’s a tip for roast lovers: Substitute beef drippings for the broth to harness all that roasted goodness.
Once done, serve this gravy over your choice of dish and watch it elevate the meal instantly. Simple, savory, and absolutely indispensable for that comfort food touch.
2. Chicken Fajitas
Sizzling chicken fajitas are a fun and easy dinner that will make you feel like you are dining at your favorite Mexican restaurant. To make this simple yet flavorful recipe, start by slicing chicken breasts into strips along with bell peppers and onions. For the best flavor, use a mix of red, green, and yellow bell peppers. Then sauté the chicken and veggies in a large skillet in olive oil until the chicken is cooked through and the peppers and onions are tender.
While everything is cooking, shake on a packet of fajita seasoning or DIY your own blend using spices like cumin and garlic powder. For a spicy kick, add chili powder and smoked paprika too. The seasoning adds a delicious Tex-Mex flavor. Once the filling is done, warm up flour or corn tortillas to assemble the fajitas.
Set out bowls of shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and lime wedges so everyone can customize their fajitas as per their personal preferences. The fresh toppings really take these fajitas to the next level.
3. Baked Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parmesan makes for an impressive Italian-inspired dinner, but it’s actually quite easy to prepare at home. Start by dredging chicken breast cutlets in breadcrumbs seasoned with Italian herbs. Then, simply bake the breaded cutlets in the oven at 400° F until they are crispy and golden brown. While the chicken bakes, heat up your favorite marinara sauce and grate some mozzarella cheese.
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and top the cutlets with rich tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. Pop it back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese. In just minutes, you will have restaurant-worthy chicken parmesan without all the frying and mess. Serve the chicken over a bed of pasta or zucchini noodles for a satisfying, hearty meal. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.
4. Crockpot Chili
Warm up with a hearty bowl of chili that simmers all day in the crockpot. This crowd-pleasing recipe comes together quickly. Simply brown some ground beef in a skillet along with chopped onions and garlic. Then, throw the beef mixture into the slow cooker along with cans of tomatoes, kidney beans, pinto beans, and corn.
Season the chili with chili powder, cumin, oregano, and crushed red pepper for the perfect amount of spice. Allow the mixture to simmer away all day. This will leave you with a rich, meaty chili ready for dinner.
Make sure to offer tasty toppings like shredded cheddar, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and sliced jalapeños so everyone can customize their bowl. Making a big batch of chili on the weekend gives you easy dinners throughout the week.
5. Sheet Pan Fajitas
For a fajita dinner with minimal cleanup, oven-roasted sheet pan fajitas are perfect. Arrange thinly sliced chicken breasts, sliced bell peppers, onions, and seasoning on a large-rimmed baking sheet. A little olive oil helps the vegetables roast up crispy. Bake at 400° F for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
The sheet pan contains the sizzling fajita mixture, so there are no stovetop splatters to clean up. Let everyone assemble their own fajitas by filling warm tortillas with hot chicken and veggies straight from the oven. Provide bowls of shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, guacamole, shredded cheese, and sour cream for plenty of toppings. The full spread of fajita flavors can be enjoyed without spending time at the stove or making multiple dishes dirty.
6. Baked Salmon with Herb Butter
Elevate your dinner with elegant, flaky baked salmon topped with savory herb butter. Start by mixing together softened butter, chopped fresh parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs de Provence, then spread the flavorful herb butter evenly over salmon fillets placed in a baking dish. Bake at 400° F for 12-15 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Basting the salmon with the herb-infused butter keeps the fish moist and adds tons of flavor without much effort.
While the salmon bakes, put together a bright, fresh salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes or roast vegetables like potatoes and Brussels sprouts to complement the fish. The salmon can also be served with rice or quinoa to round out the meal.
A quick restaurant-worthy dinner is ready when the salmon comes out of the oven topped with the melted herbed butter crust.
Elevating your dinner game doesn’t have to be complicated. These recipes use simple ingredients but result in tasty, crave-worthy meals. From chicken fajitas to slow cooker pot roast, you will have go-to dinners that will satisfy the whole family. Best of all, most of these dishes use just one pot or sheet pan for easy cooking and cleanup. With a well-stocked pantry, you can whip up home-cooked meals that everyone will request again and again.