Ask Maxwell: Quick and Delicious Weekday Meal Ideas?

published Nov 8, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Nocella/Three Lions/Getty Images

What are you cooking these days for dinner? We need some quick, satisfying meal ideas for busy weekdays!


Dear Brian,

I like to eat the same things again and again – I’m not that adventurous – so if you want something tasty for adults and kids, I’m pretty good at that. But I’ve also got a secret weapon, which is the whole staff at Kitchn – a bunch of pro cooks. They’ve chipped in to send me some great ideas as well. Here’s our top FIVE:

Credit: Damned Delicious
  • Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs (with Potatoes)
    As a new convert to cooking with an Instant Pot over the past year it has been fun to whip up meals quickly and serve them out all nice and juicy. The one thing I would say about my Instant Pot is that it doesn’t do “crispy” very well – being all about pressure cooking – but it certainly is good at moist and juicy.

    I like to take this Chicken Thigh recipe from Damn Delicious which is a lovely, zesty lemon and thyme recipe and I cook it in the Instant Pot with small, red skinned potatoes, halved or quartered, placed under the rack in chicken broth while cooking. Cook as per the chicken recipe. The chicken is perfect and the potatoes are as well. The potato addition I cribbed from this Instant Pot recipe, which is also my #2 with salmon. You’ll see it next.
Credit: Olive & Mango
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner
  • Cacciatora Southern-Style Chicken Stew with Peppers
    This recipe, from our own Andrea Kaufman, is her favorite family-night go-to, which she learned at a Kosher Italian cooking course in Tuscany in 2014. I love her description:

    “The recipe is pretty straightforward and very forgiving, so don’t worry about being too precise. You simply cook garlic and rosemary until fragrant, sear the chicken and sauté the peppers, then add white wine and vinegar and let the whole thing simmer. Traditionally it’s made with peperoni cruschi, or dry, crispy, sweet peppers from Southern Italy. This version swaps in regular bell peppers for a fresh and summery spin, and the result is super-tender chicken and sweet peppers that balance out the tangy sauce.”

Credit: Tyler Moore
  • Cast Iron Skillet Pancake Recipe
    This quick, protein packed breakfast recipe is explained by our Tyler Moore, and I would argue you could do it for dinner as well:

    “I wanted to find a hot breakfast alternative that was as delicious as pancakes, less hands-on than flipping individual circles, and also protein-packed to keep them full. Cast Iron Skillet Pancakes are the perfect solution! They are a protein-packed pancake alternative that eliminates the active cooking time and has become our go-to weekday morning staple. This breakfast dish is sometimes referred to as a German Pancake, Dutch Baby, or Egg Cake.”

Credit: Kelli Foster
Chicken Tetrazzini
  • Chicken Tetrazzini
    My colleague Kelli Foster sent me this one – her family’s favorite comfort food: the classic Chicken Tetrazzini. Yes, it’s another chicken recipe, but kids LOVE chicken and this recipe includes a crowd pleasing creamy sauce, mushrooms and peas, while cooking in the oven in just 25 minutes:

    “If you love a good chicken and pasta bake swathed in a rich and creamy sauce, chicken tetrazzini will be right up your alley. Chances are that you’ve likely heard of this crowd-pleasing casserole, even if you have yet to make it. And what you need to know is that it’s the MVP of creamy, comforting casseroles. This version is mixed with linguine pasta, juicy shredded chicken, buttery mushrooms, and peas, all swimming in a luxe sauce and topped with a blanket of toasted panko and Parm.”

Top 10 Most Popular Questions & Answers This Week
(I keep changing this each week based on your clicks)

Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

Cubby. Real solutions for unreal times.

Join us for a weekly dose of fresh, modern ideas for life at home with your kids.