lemon salmon in a foil packet

20 Meals You Can Make Even When You're Exhausted

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lemon salmon in a foil packet

Easy Meals

Having to stay home during this pandemic has left most of us less-than-thrilled about having to make dinner every single night. Try these minimal-effort, go-to meals anyone can master. Just be sure to make extras, as your family members are likely to be grabbing seconds of these tried and true favorites.

Related: 55 Big-Batch Meals That Will Last All Week

ham and cheese sliders


These tasty sandwiches only require rolls, half a pound of deli sliced ham, swiss cheese, and butter for an easy meal. You can prep and set the ahead of time or make these quickly and pop them into the oven. It doesn’t get much easier than slider-style ham sandwiches.

Related: 15 Simple, Tasty Sandwiches That Cost $1 or Less

lemon salmon in a foil packet
American Goulash

Johnny Marzetti/American Goulash

This meal is perfect for those cooler nights. Many Midwesterners refer to this meal as Johnny Marzetti, while it seems other parts of the country call it American Goulash. No matter your name for it, your family is sure to be asking for seconds of this one pot meal.

Related: 40 Cheap and Easy One-Pot Meals



At our house we make chicken tacos with fajita-style vegetables the most, but chorizo tacos topped with diced onion, cilantro, and a little lime juice is my personal favorite. You can also go brinner style with scrambled eggs and cheese with sausage or bacon.

Related: 30 Cheap, Delicious Ways to Fill Your Tacos

taco meat quesadilla or crunchwrap
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
pancakes and bacon
ham and cheese crescent roll up
Lynne Mitchell/istockphoto

Ham, Egg and Cheese Crescent Roll Up

You’ll need deli sliced ham, a few cheese slices of your preference, scrambled eggs, and a package of crescent rolls to make this delicious meal. Lay out the crescent rolls but keep them all intact, then place the ham, cheese and eggs in the center and fold the dough over. To make this even easier if you’re super exhausted, bypass the eggs for meat and cheese roll ups. Isn’t it wonderful to let the oven do all the work for you?

Related: 35 Finger Foods for Game Day Entertaining and Beyond

Hawaiian Chili


This doesn’t have to be an elaborate, stew-for-hours chili. Try this with ground beef, two cans of Rotel tomatoes, and a chili seasoning packet (throw in a can of beans if you like). Serve with a side of cornbread or just some soda crackers. 

Related: 13 Regional Chili Recipes to Try



The best part of making chili is that the next night you can make nachos with the leftovers. Preheat the oven to 350, lay out a layer of tortilla chips, top with leftover chili and a heaping layer of shredded cheese, and cook in the oven until everything is warmed through. 

Related: Every Doritos Flavor We Could Get Our Hands On, Ranked

kids making pizza
Ekaterina Morozova/istockphoto

Homemade Pizza

This is a fun dish to make with kids since they can choose their favorite toppings and make their portion. Just buy the pre-made, refrigerated crust from the store, cook as directed, pour some pizza sauce on it, sprinkle with cheese, and add toppings depending on your family’s preference. Voila, you get your kids excited to help with dinner — with an easy cleanup. 

Related: 17 Easy-to-Make Foods to Stop Buying at the Store

Pasta Salad
Douglas José/istockphoto


Instead of letting vegetables go bad, sauté them and stick them in a quiche. This meal can be tailored to your family’s tastes and whatever you have on hand, but a family favorite in my household is the classic Quiche Lorraine.  To make it easier, I opt out of the homemade pie crust for a store-bought one.

Related: 15 Classic, Budget-Friendly French Dishes

sheet pan roasted vegetables and sausage

Roasted Vegetables

This meal is certainly a dealer's choice, as you can use what you have leftover in your fridge or plan out the meal in advance. Cut up the veggies, toss a little olive oil on them, sprinkle on salt and pepper, place in the oven, and you’re done. It’s so simple, so easy, and relatively healthy too. My favorite blend is sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers. I also like to slice up some kielbasa to throw in there.

Related: 30 Vegetable Recipes for People Who Hate Vegetables

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Chef's Pasta

Pasta Aglio e Olio, also referred to as Scarlett’s pasta, is the pasta dish Jon Favreau makes at the beginning of the movie “Chef” for Scarlett Johansson’s character. With just a few simple ingredients — pasta, sliced garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, lemon, and parsley — this dish is full of flavor and can be ready in no time.

Related: 15 Foods That Are Always Better as Leftovers

grilled chicken

Grilled Chicken/Steak/Pork

Meat on the grill is always tasty, whether you prefer chicken, steak, or pork. Get your favorite cut of meat, turn on the grill, season to your heart’s desire, and you have a fantastic entrée in no time. If you don’t have a grill, sear the meat in a pan and then finish it off in the oven.

Related: 11 Inexpensive Cuts of Meat for Grilling

steak and baked potato

Steak and Potatoes

A classic home favorite, steak and potatoes can be done in so many ways. Get store-bought mashed potatoes to make it easier for yourself, or just wrap up a couple of potatoes in tin foil to toss in the oven for a classic baked spud. Prep your favorite cut of steak and cook it to perfection on the grill to get a hearty meal at a fraction of the cost of your local restaurant.

Related:  27 Barbecue Recipes and Tricks From Celebrity Chefs

Deli Sandwich

Deli Sandwiches

Whatever you might order at your local deli can work at home — just remember to buy your favorite fixings on your next trip to the grocery stories. What’s great about this meal is I can have my pastrami sandwich toasted to perfection while my husband enjoys his roast beef and cheese. 

Related: You Have to Try These Famous Sandwiches in Every State