Get Out Of The Rut – 16 Dinner Recipes To Try

Are you bored with your weekly meal options? I’m beyond bored with mine. I’ve been stuck in a dinner rut for what seems like several years. I make the same things and I’m not sure why I don’t do the obvious and Google a recipe, but for some reason, I don’t. And I’ve never been one to plan out my meals for the week. So what new dinner recipes should I try?

Then it hit me – why not ask my friends for their go-to weeknight meals. I ask my friends for their recommendations on many other things so why not recipes. If a recipe is good enough for my friend, then it’s good enough for me.

And where better to find friends than Facebook? I recently polled my Facebook friends and asked them to share their go-to family favorite recipes. The criteria: it has to be easy to prepare, quick to cook, and it has to be good! Here are 16 dinner recipes to try, and I guarantee several of these will make it into your weekly night rotation.

And by all means, please share your own go-to dinner recipes to try in the comments below. We can all use a little help in the kitchen! Bon appetite!



This is a tried and true recipe from my mother-in-law. It’s a hearty comfort meal and my kids enjoy it. Throw in a side salad and dinner is done.
  • 5 thin boneless pork chops (trim the fat)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 diced red onion or Vidalia
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
  • 2 cans Great Northern Beans
  • Italian bread crumbs (plain is fine too)
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and ground pepper
  1. Sauté the diced onions and garlic in olive oil until cooked. Scoop out of the pan and set aside.
  2. Pour about 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs in a bowl and add ground pepper and salt. I also add some grated Parmesan cheese. Dip the pork chops in the egg mixture. Then dip the pork chops in the bread crumb mixture to coat.
  3. Brown each side of the pork chop over the stove with a little olive oil and remove from pan on a plate to the side.
  4. Add the sautéed onions and garlic back to the pan, put the browned pork chops on top and then pour in the two cans (undrained) of Great Northern beans on top of the chops. Cover and simmer for one to two hours.


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This delicious recipe comes from my friend Kristie. She saw Cat Cora make this dish on Oprah years ago, and it’s been a family favorite of hers since.
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons Hunt’s Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional Orzo pasta
  1. Mix salt, pepper, and cinnamon in small bowl; rub chicken pieces with salt mixture. Heat oil in 11-inch skillet with high sides over high heat until hot. Add chicken. Cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until brown. (Cook chicken in 2 batches if the pan is too small for the chicken to brown properly.) Remove chicken from skillet and place on a plate; keep warm.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic. Cook 3 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to loosen any cooked-on brown bits. Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated.
  3. Add undrained tomatoes to skillet; stir. Return chicken and juices to skillet. Cover; reduce heat to low. Cook slowly 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.
  4. Remove chicken from skillet; keep warm. Stir tomato paste into the sauce. Cook uncovered over medium heat 10 minutes or until sauce reduces by about half.
  5. Serve chicken over orzo pasta with sauce. Sprinkle each serving with cheese if desired.


My friend and neighbor, Leila, sent us one of her family’s favorite recipes from Taste of Home.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, julienned
  • 1 small green pepper, julienned
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 3 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, pesto, 1 tablespoon oil, honey, salt, and pepper; set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, sauté the mushrooms, onion, and peppers in remaining oil until tender. Stir in the spinach, chicken, and tomatoes; cook until spinach is wilted.
  3. Drain pasta, place in a large serving bowl. Add the chicken mixture, tomatoes and pesto mixture; toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.


My friends Erin and Lisa Ann shared this Asian-inspired beef and broccoli recipe. This was one of my husband’s favorite.
  • 1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips (you can also use the beef stew meat, which is a lot easier!)
  • 1 cup beef consomme
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (low sodium if preferred)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (use less if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sauce from the crockpot after being cooked
  • Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
  • Hot cooked rice
  1. Place beef in crockpot
  2. In a small bowl, combine consomme, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil, and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce from the crockpot until smooth. Add to crockpot. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add broccoli to the crockpot and stir to combine.
  5. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high (the sauce has to boil for it to thicken.)
  6. Serve over hot cooked rice.


My neighbor and friend, Leila, introduced me to this crowd-pleasing recipe. It’s full of delicious flavor combinations and is sure to please any family. Photo courtesy of food and travel blogger, Katherine Martinelli.

Combine the following in a large bowl and marinate overnight:

  • 6-7 boneless, skinless chicken breasts  (about 3 lbs.) You can also use quartered chicken pieces with the bones.
  • Head of garlic, pureed
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup+ pitted kalamata olives or other varieties
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup+ capers with juice
  1. One hour or so before dinner, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle with:
    1. 1 cup brown sugar
    2. 1 cup white wine
    3. 1/4 cup Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  3. Bake for 50-60 minutes, uncovered until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a large knife. Transfer all of the ingredients to a serving platter and pass leftover sauce at the table. Serve with white or brown rice. It can be served cold, room temperature or hot. Serves 6.


My friend Audette ranks this as one of her family’s favorite go-to recipes. My family enjoys it too!
  • Kale
  • Jimmy Dean sausage
  • 1 onion
  • Grits
  1. Saute the sausage with the chopped onion. Add in kale and sauté until soft. Add more kale if needed. Serve over grits.


Pork Tacos
I met my new friend Lori on a recent trip to Austin, TX. She gave me an even greater appreciation of Mexican food. And her Crockpot pork taco recipe is a winner in my home. Delicious!
  • 1 4lb pork shoulder roast or pork tenderloin works great, too.
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 4oz cans diced green chili peppers
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 lb dried pinto beans
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 16 flour tortillas
  1. Place the roast inside a slow cooker coated with cooking spray. In a separate bowl, stir together the beans, two cans of chili peppers, chili powder, cumin, salt, oregano, and garlic powder. Pour the mixture over the roast and add enough water so the roast is mostly covered. Jiggle the roast to get some of the liquid underneath.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours. Check after 5 hours to make sure the beans haven’t absorbed all of the liquid. Add more water if necessary, 1 cup at a time. Use just enough to keep the beans from drying out.
  3. When the roast is fork-tender, remove it from the slow cooker and place on cutting board. Remove any bone and fat and shred with forks. Return to slow cooker and stir in the remaining can of green chilies. Heat through and serve with flour tortillas and your favorite toppings.


Lemon chicken
This is an easy and delicious recipe from my friend Jamie who happens to be a newlywed and an amazing elementary school teacher.
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tablespoons of dill weed
  • 2-3 lemons
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cans of beef consommé
  • 1 14oz box of Minute Rice (brown minute rice works as well as white)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a glass rectangular dish by melting butter on the bottom. Place the chicken breasts on top and squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken. Sprinkle the desired amount of dill weed, ground pepper and salt over chicken breasts. Top each breast with 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Bake for 20-30 minutes, then turn up the oven to 420 degrees and back an additional 10-15 minutes.
  2. While chicken is baking, add a 1/2 stick of butter (you can do more or less based on preference) and chopped onion to the pan and cook until onions are translucent. Add in two cans of the beef consommé and the 14 oz box of minute rice. Pour rice mixture into an oven-safe dish and bake for about 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. The rice dish can bake simultaneously as the chicken bakes. Serve with a salad, sautéed kale or spinach.


My friend Lori hooked me up with another unique crockpot recipe – pizza casserole. And like pizzas, add toppings to create even more variety.
  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 cup sliced pepperoni
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 32 oz marinara sauce
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 cups of water
  • 16 oz uncooked rotini or other short cut pasta
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  1. Mix all ingredients except pasta and cook for 6 hours on low. When ready to serve, boil pasta and mix with everything in the crockpot. Top with mozzarella cheese before serving.


Three of my friends, Erica, Kim, and Erin, shared similar pasta recipes. This broccoli pasta recipe is a go-to meal of Erica’s, a mom of three boys. Add in some chicken and you’ve got your meal done.

Three of my friends, Erica, Kim, and Erin shared similar recipes. This is a go-to meal from Erica, a mom of three boys.

  • 1 lb fettucini or penne pasta
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 minced shallots
  • 8 oz cream
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Boil the pasta and add the broccoli florets when there are about 6 minutes left of boiling.
  2. Melt the butter and sauté the minced shallot(s). Add in the 8 oz cream, whisk and bring to a simmer. Then, add some pepper and simmer until thickened (about 3 minutes.) Add the parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning to taste.
  3. Drain pasta and broccoli and return to pot. Pour the cream sauce over the pasta and broccoli. Add in leftover chicken or cut up a rotisserie chicken and toss. Serve with bread.


Courtesy of my friend Nicole and the blogger at Nicole’s kids love this dish and she serves it with either broccoli or another green vegetable.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 lb chicken tenders
  • 1/4 cup butter, divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Combine the salt, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle over both sides of chicken tenders.
  2. In large saute pan, melt half the butter over medium-high heat. Cook the tenders until done, about 8 minutes
  3. Pour cream and remaining butter into the skillet. Lower heat and simmer until sauce thickens about 5-7 minutes. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta or mashed potatoes, if desired.


Mushroom Pasta
A great addition to my pasta rotation. My friend Jess shared this recipe with me and it’s yummy!
  • 12 oz Egg Noodles
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • Butter and olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Marsala Wine
  • 1 cup Beef Stock
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • Garlic Powder
  • Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  1. Saute mushrooms in butter and olive oil. Add in the Marsala wine until reduced. Then add in beef stock (enough to cover the mushrooms) and reduce by half. Add in the cream and simmer.
  2. Toss in cooked egg noodles and sprinkle with garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.


Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite comfort foods. My friend Jen likes to gather up her leftover veggies and make a pot pie with homemade chicken gravy. Try this easy gravy recipe the next time you make a pot pie.
  • 2-3 cooked chicken breasts (or a rotisserie chicken is even better)
  • Fresh frozen vegetables
  • 1 jar of Heinz Home Style chicken gravy
  • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup (any of the cream soups will work)
  • 2 boxes of Pillsbury Pie Crusts (usually enough to make two pies)
  1. Combine in a bowl the frozen veggies, jar of gravy, can of soup and cut up chicken breasts.
  2. Bake the bottom of the pie crust first. Add the chicken mixture on top of baked crust and then top with the uncooked pie crust shell. Bake as directed for an easy chicken pot pie.


Another great recipe from my friend Kristie. A perfect compliment to college game day.
  • Click here for the chicken taco soup recipe. For brand recommendations, we used the Rotel Mild tomatoes with chiles, McCormick Taco seasoning, Bush’s Mild Chili beans, and Bush’s Back Beans and a Corona for the beer. Tastes better with the beer instead of chicken broth.


Chicken Curry
My friend Cindy thinks ahead. She poaches several chicken breasts in water with a chunk of ginger and a splash of sherry. Then, shred the breasts into meal-size portions (about 2 cups) and freezes. She then uses the shredded chicken for several recipes: chicken tacos/burritos, chicken diablo, enchiladas, chicken peanut pad thai and chicken curry couscous (as shown above.)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1-2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 finely diced  carrot
  • 1+ tablespoons curry
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Tumeric
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprigs of parsley
  1. Heat oil in a skillet with a lid. Saute onion, zucchini, carrot, and garlic for a few minutes. Add curry and turmeric, sauté until fragrant. Add chicken, broth, and water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add couscous and stir. Put on the lid and remove from heat for 5 minutes. Stir to fluff couscous. Add salt, pepper, and parsley.


Don’t let the SPAM throw you off. My friend Debbie shared this recipe and it’s one of her favorite go-to, unique recipes from Renny’s Oki Dokie food truck in Tampa. Spam Musubi is also a popular Hawaiian snack. The egg on top really makes it!
  • 1 can of SPAM
  • White rice
  • Eggs
  • Soy Sauce
  • Wasabi Furikake (includes sesame seeds, seaweed flakes and more. Can be found in your Asian supermarkets.)
  1. Slice the SPAM into strips (you can also slice them smaller–like matchstick size), sauté in soy sauce until heated and crispy outside. Serve over cooked white rice, top with a fried egg and sprinkle with a dash of furikake. And if you want to be real official in your SPAM Musubi making, try this online version with a musubi-maker and Nori (seaweed) sheets.

Other easy go-to meal ideas people offered up were the breakfast for dinner option, the beloved Taco Night, the Publix rotisserie chicken, the homemade pizza night, the easy bean and cheese on flour tortillas, Swedish meatballs and so many more! There are hundreds of recipe resources out there, but I believe a friend’s tried-and-true recipe is the best. Be a friend and share one of your go-to family night meals. It just might be what helps your friend out of her dinner rut.

Bright calls Tampa home after spending 17 years in New York City. Originally from Atlanta, she graduated from FSU with a B.S. in Communications. Prior to a career in Motherhood, Bright worked in a Manhattan advertising agency, as well as a popular cable TV network in Promotions and Sponsorships. She also did Public Relations for a national urban ministry. Bright is now a stay-at-home mom who is married to her best everything, has four active kids and is passionate about moms! She recently joined the premium skincare line, Rodan + Fields as a consultant and launched her personal blog. She loves to play tennis, grab a coffee with friends, write to encourage others and unwind with a favorite TV show. You can get to know her better on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.