The Girlfriend Site Logo
Oh no!
It looks like you aren't logged in to The Girlfriend community. Log in or create a free online account today to get the best user experience, participate in giveaways, save your favorite articles, follow our authors and more.
Don't have an account? Click Here To Register

Easy 4-Ingredient Meals For Super Busy Weeknights

Why spend hours in the kitchen when you don't have to?

Comment Icon
Photographs by Jennifer Chong (Food Stylist: Laura Kinsey Dolph; Prop Stylist: Audrey Taylor)
Comment Icon

If you've had a busy day, the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner. Sometimes, the most delicious meals are the ones with minimal ingredients. My family enjoys a loaded baked potato with bacon, cheese, and broccoli for dinner or our other favorite — English muffin pizzas. The following four-ingredient recipes prove you can assemble a fast, warm meal even if your pantry is low on groceries and the dinner hour is quickly approaching.

Slow Cooker New England Dinner

AARP - Busy Weeknight Meals
Jennifer Chong | JChong Studio L

My mother cooked this meal in a large soup pot on the stove for our family every St. Patrick's Day. I'm carrying on the tradition with my own family, but I find it easier to toss the ingredients into a crock pot to save time.

Serves 6

3 pounds corned beef brisket (with seasoning packet)

1 head cabbage, cut into wedges

6 potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

6 carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

Place corned beef in the crockpot and sprinkle in the seasoning packet's contents (usually included in the package of meat). Pour roughly 3 cups of water over the meat, cover, and cook on high for 2 hours.

Reduce heat to low and cook an additional 2-3 hours. Remove beef from the crockpot and add all the vegetables. Replace beef in the pot on top of the veggies, cover, and cook on low for 2 more hours or until veggies are tender. Remove brisket, cut it into slices, then remove vegetables with a slotted spoon. Place everything on a platter and serve.

AARP - Busy Weeknight Meals
Jennifer Chong | JChong Studio L

Spinach Ravioli Lasagna

Serves 6 to 8

This is the perfect, quick meal for the vegetarian in your family. However, you can add cooked ground beef or sausage for extra protein. Top the meal off with a salad and toasted garlic bread.

1 bag frozen cheese ravioli (20-25 ounces)

1 (28-ounce) jar marinara

1 (10-ounce) package of chopped spinach, cooked and drained well

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce across the bottom of a greased casserole dish. Add half of the ravioli, then sprinkle half of the spinach over all. Top with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat the layer with 1/3 sauce, the remaining ravioli, spinach, and another 1/2 cup cheese. Finish by topping the dish with the last of the sauce and cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Optional: top with grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil.

Gourmet BBQ Beef Sandwiches

AARP - Busy Weeknight Meals
Jennifer Chong | JChong Studio L

Everyone loves a hearty sandwich, and this recipe from Taste of Home fits the bill. To get your veggies in with this meal, add tomato, lettuce, and onion slices. You can also add salt and pepper (like the original recipe states) or other seasonings, such as garlic and onion powder.

Makes 12 sandwiches

3-4 pounds beef rump roast

1 cup BBQ sauce

12 croissants, split in half lengthwise

12 slices provolone cheese

*Optional: salt and pepper to taste

Rub the roast with seasonings of your choice and then transfer to a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours until tender. Remove the roast and skim the fat from the juices in the pot. Slice the meat and return to the liquid in the slow cooker. Add BBQ sauce and cook for 5-10 minutes longer until sauce is heated. Place 12 croissant bottoms on a baking dish and cover each with a slice of cheese. Run under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and spoon meat evenly over the halves. Place the croissant top halves on the sandwiches and serve. *Optional: top meat with lettuce, tomato, and onion slices.

AARP - Busy Weeknight Meals
Jennifer Chong | JChong Studio L


My neighbors often made this popular Polish dish from their country and always brought over servings for our family. Thankfully, they shared the recipe with me, and now it's my go-to comfort meal when I'm too busy to fuss in the kitchen. Plus, it has BACON, so you know it's good!

Serves 4

8-ounce package of egg noodles

8 slices of bacon, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 pounds cabbage, cut into bite-size chunks

Cook noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. In a large pot or deep skillet, sauté bacon and onion together until the onion is tender and bacon is almost browned. Reduce heat to low and add the cabbage. Cook and stir frequently until the cabbage is tender. Add cooked noodles and toss to coat.

*If the bacon has very little fat, you'll need to add a little olive oil or 2-3 tablespoons of butter to keep the noodles moist. If desired, you can also add seasonings, such as salt, pepper, or garlic.

Chicken In Green Sauce

AARP - Busy Weeknight Meals
Jennifer Chong | JChong Studio L

This is one of my favorite meals because I always have the ingredients in my refrigerator. My daughter introduced me to this delightful Mexican dish, and I've been making it ever since. If you prefer a little kick to the chicken, top each breast with several slices of pickled jalapeño peppers before baking. I also recommend serving this meal with pinto beans and rice on the side or grilled ears of corn to round out the meal. *Note: If you dislike salsa verde, substitute it with red tomato salsa.

Serves 4-6

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups salsa verde

1 cup sour cream

1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken in a shallow, greased baking dish. Pour salsa verde over the meat, then top each breast with a large dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle cheese over all. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and chicken is completely cooked.

What's your favorite super simple recipe? Please do share in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle