14 Easy Weeknight Dinners With 5 Ingredients or Less

Updated on February 15, 2019
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, blogger at Healthy at Home, and educator. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

For most of us, when it's time for dinner, we head straight to the internet and search a variety of recipe sites for inspiration. But then when you finally choose something that sparks your interest and looks delicious, it needs 58 different ingredients, half of which must be ordered from a special store or website. If you're like me, you improvise and use what you have on hand, sometimes drastically changing the recipe. But what if you don't know how to do that?

Wouldn't it be great if you had a list of go-to recipes that offered fantastic options with minimal ingredients? I'm not talking about the typical tacos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, or spaghetti recipes. What I offer here is a collection of delicious meals that are designed to be easier on your time, your pantry, and your pocketbook. When I write each recipe, I try and be cognizant of how many ingredients I'm listing and how long my instructions are.

I know it can be overwhelming to pull up a delicious-looking recipe and then be hit with an ingredient list that looks impossible to navigate. Even I will click away from a new recipe if it seems overbearing. There are even recipe sites I no longer visit at all because of the crazy long recipes with obscure ingredients.

Hopefully, you will find some inspiration amongst these yummy recipes. I put our personal family favorite right at the top. Isn't it great to know that delicious dinners don't have to be difficult or expensive?!

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes | Source

BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I'm not exactly sure where this recipe came from, or if it was just an experiment in the beginning. But with only 4 ingredients, it doesn't get more delicious than this.

Ingredients

  • sweet potatoes
  • shredded, cooked chicken
  • barbecue sauce
  • shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Bake your sweet potatoes in the microwave or the oven (400 for an hour).
  2. Cook your chicken in a pan on the stove, in the oven (400 for an hour), or in your Instant Pot (manual for 10 minutes). Then shred.
  3. Cut your sweet potato in half, top it with chicken, barbecue sauce and shredded cheese.
  4. Yum!

Rainbow Risotto
Rainbow Risotto | Source

Rainbow Risotto

This is a super easy recipe that can be made on the stove, in your Crock-pot, or even in your Instant Pot. The Instant Pot version is my personal favorite because of how quick, easy, and effortless it is. Here, I'll show you.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice
  • 2.5 cups water (or 3 cups on stove or in rice maker)
  • 2 cups rainbow colored veggies, chopped (think of veggies that make the various colors of the rainbow)

Instructions

  1. In your Instant Pot, pour your rice and water and then dump your chopped up veggies. (My favorites veggies are the 4 colors of peppers and some red cabbage, but you could also consider peas, carrots, corn, eggplant, zucchini, onion, pumpkin, sweet potato, purple potatoes, purple onion, green beans, etc.)
  2. Cook on Manual for 10 minutes.
  3. You could also cook your rice on the stove or in your rice cooker, and cook the veggies in a pan to combine at the end.

Veggie Meatballs
Veggie Meatballs | Source

Veggie Meatballs

These are some of our favorites. My family loves meatballs, and the veggies give them a particular sweetness. You can eat them alone, with a salad and veggie, or even with spaghetti and pasta sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground chicken, turkey or hamburger meat
  • 2 1/2 cups pureed veggies (we like carrot, zucchini, and bell pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish with some coconut oil.
  2. Process your veggies down in a food processor.
  3. Mix all ingredients together, roll them in balls, and lay them out in your prepared dish.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, until done in the center.

Baked Potato Soup
Baked Potato Soup | Source

Baked Potato Soup

This dish has become a regular around our house this winter. My son requests it often and it's so easy to pull together! As long as we have white potatoes, and we normally do, this dish can be created in a pinch for cheap.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 baking potatoes
  • 1 package nitrate-free bacon
  • 4 cups chicken broth, homemade preferred
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook your bacon on the stove until cooked through and crumbly.
  2. Chop up your potatoes and toss them into your Instant Pot (Crock-pot or pot on the stove).
  3. Pour in your chicken broth, and your cooked and crumbled bacon with the bacon grease.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes on Manual in your Instant Pot, or in your Crock-pot or pot on the stove until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Smash everything down with a potato masher.
  6. Add your cream cheese and cheddar cheese and stir until melted.

Cheeseburger Pie
Cheeseburger Pie | Source

Cheeseburger Pie

Oh man! This is my husband's all-time favorite dish. It's super easy to pull together with simple ingredients everyone has in their kitchen. All you need is some ketchup to make this dinner complete. I mean, it IS a cheeseburger pie after all.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • Shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Wash, chop and boil your potatoes in a pot of water on the stove until tender.
  2. Chop and cook your onion and raw hamburger on the stove in a large pan until the onions are clear and the hamburger is brown all the way through.
  3. Preheat your stove to 350 degrees F and grease a deep dish pie pan with some coconut oil.
  4. Pour your hamburger and onions into the bottom of your pie dish.
  5. Drain your potatoes and either pour them on top as is, or mash them first and then spread them on top of the hamburger layer.
  6. Spread shredded cheese over the whole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Hamburger Veggie Soup
Hamburger Veggie Soup | Source

Hamburger Veggie Soup

This one is not only easy and effortless, but provides my family with a delicious, nutritious meal at the end of the day. How much easier can or get then simply tossing a few ingredients into a pot on the stove, or into your Instant Pot, and then walking away.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 5 cups assorted veggies (diced tomatoes, corn, peas, green beans, onion, carrots, etc.)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 6 cups beef or veggie broth, homemade preferred
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Cook your hamburger in a pan on the stove until it is brown all the way through. (I cook all of mine ahead of time and store it in one pound servings in the freezer for quick meals.)
  2. Toss all of your ingredients into your pot (or Instant Pot) and cook for thirty minutes, stirring every so often. In your Instant Pot, you would seal the top and cook on Manual for 5 minutes.

Fettuccine Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo | Source

Fettuccine Alfredo

This one is one of my all-time favorites. I use my Alfredo sauce in so many different meals. I just can't get enough of it. For simplicity, this is just the Alfredo sauce. Feel free to add your choice in pasta, chicken, turkey, veggies, or whatever, to make it a meal you could love. You don't need fettuccine noodles to make this fettuccine Alfredo, but they do add something to the dish that no other pasta can.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Start by melting your butter and cream cheese over medium heat in a medium pot on the stove.
  2. Add in your garlic powder and half and half and whisk until smooth.
  3. Finally add in your Parmesan cheese and whisk until the cheese is melted and your sauce is smooth.
  4. Serve with pasta, chicken, spinach, or anything else you'd like.

Ratatouille
Ratatouille

Ratatouille

There is something so delicious about combining these simple veggies together with garlic that makes you want it time and time again. I am such a huge fan and I owe it all to the movie Ratatouille. Haha Without that movie, I never would have discovered this amazing dish.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Italian veggies (zucchini, squash, onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish with some olive oil.
  2. Pour your tomato sauce into the bottom of you prepared dish.
  3. Slice all of your veggies into thin 1/4 inch slices and layer them in your dish on end.
  4. Drizzle the whole dish with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
  5. Cover your dish with parchment paper and bake for 45-55 minutes, until veggies are done.

Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Alfredo
Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Alfredo | Source

Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Alfredo

Yum! All of this food is making me super hungry. This is one of those dishes that only needs 4 ingredients but you'll swear it's a professional dish when you're finished. How can you go wrong with garlic, spinach, chicken and Parmesan cheese? You could even get rid of the spinach, or sub in something completely different if you'd like. Don't be afraid to make it your own!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 pounds of chicken (4 breasts)
  • 2 cups shredded or sliced Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cook your garlic and spinach in a saute pan on the stove with a little olive oil or coconut oil until your spinach is wilted.
  3. Cut each of your chicken breasts open on one side to create a nice pocket for your fillings.
  4. Stuff each chicken breast with 1/2 cup of wilted spinach and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  5. Lay them out evenly on your prepared baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes.
  6. We like to serve ours with pasta and a salad.
  7. Tip: This meal is delicious with my homemade Alfredo sauce poured over the top as well. That recipe is included in this article.

Oven Fried Chicken
Oven Fried Chicken | Source

Oven-Fried Chicken

We don't do fried items in our home, especially if it includes drinking anything in vegetables or canola oil. Obviously there are other healthy oils that we could use, like peanut oil, but we choose not to. Instead, we're can easily get our fried chicken fix in a healthy way, baking it in the oven, for that same flavor and same crunch. Let me show you!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • 4 pieces of bread
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Process all of your coating ingredients in the food processor together. and pour them out on a plate.
  3. Get each of your chicken breasts wet under the tap, and then coat on each side with your bread crumb mixture.
  4. Lay each breast out on your prepared baking sheet, coat with remaining bread crumb mixture, pressing it into the top of each breast.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.
  6. Then switch your oven to broil and broil on low for another 10-15 minutes to brown the chicken.
  7. Our favorite sides with fried chicken are mashed potatoes and corn.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup | Source

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Yum! We just had this the other night with some homemade tortilla chips and it was amazing. We're going to have to have it again tonight because of this article. I highly recommend busting out the chips and salsa and making some guacamole on the side with this soup, because you're going to feel like you're at an authentic Mexican restaurant and wonder where the chips and sides are.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breasts (2 small or 1 large), cut up
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth, homemade preferred
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning, homemade preferred

Instructions

  1. Dice your onions and saute them in a bit of coconut oil until translucent and soft.I like to use my Instant Pot, but a pot on the stove would work as well.
  2. Add in your seasonings and chicken breasts, chopped into smaller pieces.
  3. Top with your diced tomatoes and chicken broth.
  4. If using an Instant Pot, close and lock the lid and set to 10 minutes on Manual. In a pot on the stove, cook for about 30 minutes.
  5. Shred your chicken (I like to use my potato masher right in the soup pot).
  6. Serve with your choice in toppings. We like shredded cheese and homemade tortilla chips.

Apple Butter Pork Chops
Apple Butter Pork Chops | Source

Apple Butter Pork Chops

This is more of a savory sweet kind of dish. It definitely takes the right evening to make this dish. This recipe is simply pork chops smothered in cinnamon apples, and we like our with a sweet potato to compliment it. I have to say it was delicious, but I have to be craving this one before I'll whip it up.

Ingredients

  • 4 nitrate-free pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 quart (4 cups) cinnamon apples, homemade preferred
  • 1 pint apple butter, homemade preferred

Instructions

  1. Brown your pork chops in butter in a large saute pan on the stove over medium high heat.
  2. Then pull them out to a plate on the side and turn your temperature down to medium low.
  3. Pour your cinnamon apples into the pan and add your pork chops back in on top of them.
  4. Top each generously with apple butter, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
  5. Then turn them over and top with with apple butter again. Cook another 10 minutes and then serve.

Fajitas
Fajitas | Source

Fajitas

When onions and bell peppers go on sale at the grocery store, I like to stock up on them, slice them up into bags together and freeze them. You could even slice up your chicken breasts or steak and slide them into the bags as well with some fajita seasoning for ready made meals anytime you need them. Fajitas are so delicious and so easy.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken (about 2 breasts), cut up
  • 3 cups of veggies (bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, or whatever you'd like), sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fajita seasoning

Instructions

  1. Slice up your chicken and veggies.
  2. Dump all of your ingredients into a large skillet on the stove with a little coconut oil.
  3. Cook over medium to medium high until the chicken is done and your veggies are soft.
  4. We like to serve our with homemade tortillas, shredded cheese, salsa, and maybe even some sour cream or guacamole.

Penne Pasta Bake
Penne Pasta Bake | Source

Penne Pasta Bake

We seem to really be enjoying a great deal of Italian dishes lately, where Mexican used to be our go-to theme. This is one of those amazing dishes that seems to please everyone in the family and only takes a few ingredients. Although I'm finished off this article with one last dish, it doesn't mean that there are no more amazing 5 ingredient or less dishes. But you definitely won't want to miss this one.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces your chosen pasta (we like penne)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) pasta sauce, homemade preferred
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish with some coconut oil.
  2. Cook your pasta in a large pot on the stove until tender.
  3. Strain it in the sink and pour half of it into your prepared dish.
  4. Pour half of your pasta sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan on top.
  5. And then finish with one more layer of pasta, sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese on top is melted.

Source

I really love easy recipes. These are the ones that I toss together when I'm tired, don't know what to cook, or don't have much left in the refrigerator or pantry and need to go to the store. They don't require much thought from me and can be adjusted based on what I have in the kitchen, or what I'm craving.

Honestly, when I have spinach in the house, it usually goes into just about every meal, and I try to work seasonal veggies, and the veggies in my garden into my dishes as well. It works out well because each dish, even if I make it multiple times, turns out a little bit different every time. And I like it that way. If I want a particular flavor, I can make the original recipe I made, or I can spice it up a bit by changing it. Either way, every meal is always amazing!

There are plenty of ways to simplify even the most difficult-sounding dishes if you look at them for what you have and need. There's typically a main component and a spice, sometimes a meat, a veggie, and a spice. Try and break down the meals, like I have here, to their simplest components, and you can have a delicious meal every day without all of the complicated ingredients.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Victoria Van Ness

    Comments

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      • VVanNess profile imageAUTHOR

        Victoria Van Ness 

        5 months ago from Fountain, CO

        I'm so glad you liked them! Enjoy!!

      • hazeltos profile image

        Susan Hazelton 

        5 months ago from Summerfield, Florida

        What great recipes you have included here on your hub. I can't wait to try some of them.

      • Rochelle Frank profile image

        Rochelle Frank 

        5 months ago from California Gold Country

        A lot of good ideas here. I am also a fan of simple meals, and I will be trying some of these. I do keep a full pantry because the nearest store requires an hour round trip. Bad weather and other circumstances make it inconvenient or impossible to shop at any time. My next grocery list will be inspired by your suggestions-- though I could probably do most of them right now. Thanks for the good ideas.

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