Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

Weeknight Dining Rule & Recipes

Last weekend, I organized all my recipes and developed a single rule for weeknight dining happiness:

Nothing we make during the week should take longer than 30 minutes.

As I sorted recipes, I put them into categories: weeknights, weekends, CSA (all the recipes with weird ingredients we normally only get in the CSA – like broccoli rabe), sides/appetizers, and desserts.  In doing so, I unearthed some long-lost recipes and was reminded of some of our favorites, which I thought I’d share today.

Here are a few of our favorite, easy weeknight recipes:

Cheddar Dogs

Weeknight dining - cheddar dogs

Photo Credit: Pillsbury

8 hot dogs
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Separate and flatten the crescent rolls on a baking sheet.  Place one hot dog in each crescent roll, add a little cheese, then roll the hot dog and cheese up in the roll.  Bake for 10-13 minutes.



Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad

Crunchy Chicken Salad

Photo Credit: Betty Crocker

This recipe takes about 20 minutes and is always a hit – even with company.  You’ll find it in the Betty Crocker Cookbook, which is one of the few cookbooks I kept, and online here. It’s easy, delicious, and healthy!

Overnight Tuna Casserole

I got this recipe from my mom and it is a fantastic weeknight recipe!  Mix everything together the night before, then heat it in the microwave for 15 minutes when you get home from work.

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 can (6 oz) tuna, drained
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped green onions (I usually just sprinkle in some onion powder)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Combine soup and milk until smooth.  Add tuna, macaroni, peas, onions, and 3/4 cup of cheese; mix well. Pour into a greased 2-qt microwave-safe dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Microwave, covered, on high for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining cheese and let stand until melted. My mom also adds: “You probably don’t need quite that much cheese if you want to conserve.”

Stir Fry

Stir Fry

Photo Credit:

This is a great way to clean out the fridge every week and you can even cut vegetables ahead of time to make this even faster. Our basic stir fry includes:

Brown Rice (cooked ahead if you want to come in under the 30-minute mark, but this is easy to start as soon as you get home)
Chicken, Pork, or Beef
Sitr Fry Sauce (I like Trader Joe’s Soyaki Sauce)

Cook the rice. Chop everything else up, mix it together and cook until the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender, but not floppy (10-15 minutes).



Photo Credit:

1 lb hamburger
taco shells
salsa or tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp cayenne pepper

This is another good dish for clearing out the fridge because you can add all kinds of things to tacos (peppers, olives, etc). Cook the meat and sprinkle in the chili powder, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper at the end; mix. Assemble the other ingredients and have everyone make their own tacos!



  1. Last night my husband and I had Potato Bar. I chopped some broccoli and onion, heated up 4 slices of the pre-cooked bacon, then crumbled it. He made some cheese sauce and we nuked a potato apiece. With the toppings our potato made for a tasty evening meal. And we got our “green” by including the broccoli. Potatoes get a bad rap these days. But they are actually chocked full of potassium and magnesium – skins and all.

    • amberrking

      January 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      This takes me back to my college days when the sight of the potato bar in the dorm cafeteria really improved my day — great idea, Ellen! My favorite potato topping is probably avocado or guacamole. I’ll have to add this to my weeknight idea list. Yum!

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