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What to Cook When You’re Tired of Everything: 40 Easy Recipes to Get You Out of a Dinner Rut

We never really thought we’d reach our breaking point—until someone asked us what’s for dinner and we totally freaked out. Sometimes you can make lemons into lemonade, and sometimes there’s so. much. going. on. that yet another home-cooked meal is the last thing on your frazzled brain. (Don’t feel alone, because according to one 2021 survey, about one third of adults feels so stressed they struggle with basic decisions like what to eat.)

With that in mind, here are 40 of our favorite simple, foolproof recipes that are exactly what to make when you’re tired of everything, from fresh and easy 15-minute fish to a comforting sausage and fennel pasta.

40 Comfort Food Recipes for When You Need a Hug on a Plate


1. 15-minute Herb-crumbed Fish

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, Mediterranean diet–friendly

Cooking fish at home doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal reserved for special occasions. This meal leans on herby breadcrumbs for most of its flavor, so it’s practically foolproof. (Psst: Stash a bag of the topping in your freezer for last-minute meals.)

2. Hot Honey Chicken Thighs

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly, less than 500 calories

Fried chicken sounds delish, doesn’t it? This skillet dinner has a similar flavor profile, but it doesn’t require the effort of deep-frying.

3. Easy Green Chicken Enchiladas

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, beginner-friendly, make ahead

When feeding yourself feels like a chore, a store-bought rotisserie chicken should become your new BFF. (It’s beyond versatile; just see number 34 on this list for further evidence.) If you’re feeling at all ambitious, you can assemble a second tray of these enchiladas and freeze them for later.

4. 50-50 Buttered Noodles And Greens

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

You’d like to dive head-first into a bowl of creamy pasta, but you also like salad. This meal calls for a pound of greens and a pound of noodles, because balance is important.

5. Teriyaki Salmon Bowls

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pot, <10 ingredients, high protein, dairy free

What if we told you that you could cook the rice and protein in the same pot at the same time? Dreams really do come true.

6. Smashed Chickpea Salad Sandwich

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, ready in <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, no cook

We’ll always love a mayo-based salad, but it’s time to switch up the usual tuna. Canned chickpeas are just as convenient and protein-rich, but they have the benefit of being vegetarian.

7. Slow Cooker Green Chicken Chili

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours, 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, slow cooker recipe, crowd-pleaser, high protein, less than 500 calories

If you’re zapped of energy by dinnertime, why not start cooking while the day is young? This slow cooker number is comforting and delightfully hands-off.

8. Easy Roasted Tomato Bucatini

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, make ahead, kid-friendly

This classic pasta starts with canned tomatoes, but you can let your oven do the hard work as it concentrates all those juices and transforms into a rich sauce.

9. Easy, Lazy Chicken Soup With Beans And Greens

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, one pot

This recipe starts with a homemade stock, which, before you freak out, is pared down for simplicity. It gets a boost of savory flavor from miso paste, the beans are canned, the greens are swappable and the entire thing is easier to whip up than grabbing a can opener. (And the final product tastes better too.)

10. Spicy Sweet Potato Tacos

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, kid-friendly, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

These tacos take 20 minutes from start to finish, all with a few flavorful ingredients you likely already have on hand. Save time and skip peeling those spuds.

11. One-cup Pancakes

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

Breakfast for dinner (aka brinner) is already a great way to switch up your routine—make it even better with this no-recipe recipe. You don’t even need to get out a measuring cup.

12. Cheater’s Italian Wedding Soup

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, high protein, beginner-friendly

Good news: While this soup takes an hour to make, you’ll only spend 15 minutes actively prepping anything. The secret to streamlining? Using flavorful ground sausage to make the meatballs.

13. Miso-glazed Salmon With Gochujang Rice

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, less than 500 calories, dairy free, <10 ingredients

Oh hey, six-ingredient seafood dinner. Mind if we make you every night this week?

14. Sheet Pan Curried Butternut Squash Soup

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, less than 500 calories, beginner-friendly

Sheet pan…soup? Believe it. Roasting the vegetables before pureeing them adds a ton of deep, caramelized flavor, plus the oven does most of the work.

15. Antoni Porowski’s Lazy Pierogi With Wild Mushrooms, Cabbage And Prunes

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: less than 500 calories, low sugar, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Normally, making homemade pierogi is an ambitious cooking project best saved for weekends (and with a few helpers). These dumplings are more like gnocchi, and since there’s no filling or crimping, they’re Tuesday night–friendly.

16. Sausage And Fennel Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly

How do we love thee, Italian sausage? Let us count the ways. (Seriously though, we’re forever grateful to all those spices doing the heavy lifting.)

17. Oven-baked Hot Honey Chicken Tenders

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly

Admit it: There’s nothing like a homemade chicken tenders to make you feel a little better about your day.

18. Pasta With Burst Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Corn And Burrata

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients, high protein

Ten minutes of prep, ten minutes of cooking and you’re on your way to a seriously slurpable bowl of pasta. (BTW, there are less than ten ingredients involved, but you can’t tell by taste alone.)

19. Antoni Porowski’s Strip Steak With Harissa Butter And Parsley Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, special occasion–worthy, beginner-friendly

Steak? On a weeknight?! Believe it. This fancy-pants meal is actually a cinch to make, especially with a little proverbial hand-holding from Queer Eye’s resident food expert, Antoni Porowski.

20. Salmon With Pesto And Blistered Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, special occasion–worthy, Mediterranean diet–friendly

Whether you’re hosting a gathering or just want to dress up a Friday night dinner, there’s no need to spend hours toiling in the kitchen. Want proof? Make this five-ingredient stunner.

21. Egg Tacos With Roasted Poblano, Onion And Corn Salsa

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, less than 500 calories, beginner-friendly

Use the salsa recipe as a guide. If you have other peppers or onions or more corn in your fridge, don’t be afraid to use them up.

22. Baked Caprese Chicken Skillet

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, kid-friendly, ready in <30 minutes

It’s easy, tasty and ready in the time it takes you to watch about ten TikTok videos.

23. Chickpeas With Braised Summer Vegetables And Basil

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, less than 500 calories, <10 ingredients

This cozy vegetarian dish conjures up images of a summer vacation in Italy. Need we say more?

24. Baked Lemon And Ginger Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly, high protein

An hour until dinner sounds like a long time and a lot of work, until you realize that most of those minutes are spent drooling at the oven door.

25. Sheet Pan Gnocchi With Sausage, Peppers And Onions

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

If you start with store-bought gnocchi, you’re looking at the foundation for an easy weeknight meal. Another perk: minimal dishes to clean.

26. Pan-fried Polenta With Blistered Tomatoes And Burrata

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion–worthy, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

Well, well, well, isn’t this a gourmet meal? Good news: It’s deceptively simple to whip up. (Not to mention, there’s burrata.)

27. Sheet Pan Chicken And Rainbow Vegetables

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly, high protein

Give your usual broccoli and bland chicken breasts a ROYGBIV upgrade with peppers, carrots, onions and a sesame-soy-honey glaze for a boost of flavor.

28. Sheet Pan Tomato Basil Gnocchi

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, kid-friendly, beginner-friendly

FYI, you have full permission to shortcut this recipe and use store-bought pesto if you want to save yourself eight ingredients and 15 minutes.

29. Broccoli Pesto Pasta

  • Time Commitment: 23 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, kid-friendly, <10 ingredients

We don’t have the energy to force down a cupful of green vegetables for our health, but if it’s hidden in a silky green pasta sauce, we’ll happily oblige.

30. Sheet Pan Cashew Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, high protein, beginner-friendly

The sheet-pan meal is often billed as the be-all, end-all convenient dinner, but the reality is a little trickier. This version *actually* nails the method: The vegetables are par-cooked before the chicken goes in, so everything is perfectly cooked at the same time.

31. Orecchiette With Spring Greens

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, ready in <30 minutes, vegetarian, crowd-pleaser

Here, we call for peas and spinach, both of which are at their peak in spring. But you could just as easily switch it up and use another seasonal vegetable in their place.

32. Cast Iron Skillet Pizza With Fennel, Sausage And Garlic

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

Hey, you. Stop scrolling and put your phone away. You have a pillowy soft pizza to make. (It’s easy, promise.)

33. Spaghetti With Rosemary And Lemon

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, vegetarian

Proof that pasta doesn’t have to be complicated to be luscious. Take that, jarred red sauce.

34. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, no cook, make ahead

For ultimate ease, start with a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The recipe makes a giant batch, so you can use the leftovers all week long for lunches, too.

35. Easy 30-minute Beef Stroganoff

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, special occasion–worthy, crowd-pleaser

When you feel like Sunday supper on a Wednesday, grab your skillet. This recipe is hearty, delicious and most importantly fast, even though it tastes like you spent all day making it.

36. Balsamic Brown Butter Tortellini With Spinach And Hazelnuts

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: ready in <30 minutes, vegetarian, <10 ingredients

Are you familiar with the magic of store-bought cheese tortellini? It takes almost zero effort to dress up and tastes like you spent all day making it. The brown butter doesn’t hurt, either.

37. Caramelized Mushroom Pasta With Crispy Prosciutto

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, low sugar, less than 500 calories

Haven’t you heard? Mushrooms are trending, and for good reason. They add meaty texture and flavor to everything they touch, including this savory pasta.

38. Instant Pot Coconut Salmon With Fresh Herbs And Lime

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Instant Pot recipe, beginner-friendly, low carb, ready in <30 minutes

Steam-poaching the fish in coconut milk keeps it moist and gives it an instant jolt of flavor. To make this a full one-pot meal, you can toss in some sliced shiitakes or snap peas.

39. Baked Feta With Garlicky Kale And Chickpeas

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, one pan, high protein

Because the best dinners are the ones you can customize, feel free to adjust this baby as you please. The kale can be swapped with any hearty green (like mustard greens or chard), the shallot can be replaced with onion and the feta can—actually, don’t skip the feta.

40. Ultimate Cheese Plate With Roasted Grapes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, beginner-friendly

When all else fails, doctor up a charcuterie plate and call it dinner. You’ve earned it.