These easy weeknight dinners are the meals we put on repeat week after week. Our midweek dinner favourites that are on rotation include deliciously comforting dishes such as Japanese tonkatsu, Thai pad kra pao, a Burmese chicken curry, Sichuan-inspired bang bang chicken salad, and a Tex-Mex style chilli con carne.
When we’re not eating the dishes that we’ve been testing for the cookbooks that we’re developing or the dishes that we’ve photographed for recipes we’ve published here on Grantourismo, we tend to cook recipes for easy weeknight dinners that we know are delicious, foolproof and reliable.
And when I say that these easy weeknight dinners are the meals we put on repeat week after week, I don’t mean that’s all we eat when we’re not tucking into dishes from the day’s photo shoots. But they are definitely the dishes we have on rotation on those nights we’re too tired to cook anything else.
So why is that? We’ve got hundreds and hundreds of recipes on Grantourismo alone that we could be cooking, not to mention recipes in the many cookbooks that fill our apartment shelves, so why do these dishes get cooked more often than others?
Mainly because they’re incredibly delicious and easy dishes to make – even the tonkatsu that is brined and dredged; the more you make a dish the easier it becomes to make. A few of the dishes take time – the curry and chilli only improve the longer you leave them – but once they’re on, they only require the occasional stir.
If you’re feeding a family, check out our ideas for easy weeknight family dinners that include recipes for everything from Vietnamese meatball noodle bowls and a classic Italian chicken cacciatore to a white bean chilli and chicken Stroganoff.
Now before I tell you more about these easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-supported. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by supporting our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon, which you can do for as little as the price of a coffee.
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Now let me tell you more about the easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat week after week.
Easy Weeknight Dinners – The Midweek Meals We Put on Repeat Week After Week
The easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat week after week include recipes for Thai pad kra pao, bang bang chicken salad, tonkatsu, chicken curry, and chilli con carne.
Thai Pad Kra Pao Recipe for Stir Fried Pork and Holy Basil with Fried Egg
This Thai pad kra pao recipe for stir fried pork and holy basil tops our list of the easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat. Typically served with a fried egg, it’s a breakfast staple of street food stalls all over Thailand, but Thais eat this any time of day, whether for lunch, dinner or a snack.
A paste of chilli and garlic is combined with ground pork, a rich sauce and holy basil. Topped with a fried egg and served with prik nam pla and jasmine rice, it’s a filling home-cooked style fast-food dish and a Thai street food favourite.
This Thai pad kra pao recipe is also versatile. Thai holy basil is essential – that’s the ‘kra pao’ in the title, also written as ‘kra pow’ and ‘gaphrao’, while ‘pad’ or ‘phat’ is ‘stir-fried’ – however, you could easily use ground beef or chicken mince, and you can crank up the heat if you like things hot or serve a more gently spiced stir-fry if you prefer.
A seasoned carbon steel wok works best to get the mince a little smoky, which will help give your pad kra pao that authentic Thai flavour. You want the wok over pretty high heat for this. As this stir-fry cooks quickly it’s best to mix your sauce and condiments beforehand and have your steamed rice ready to go. Sometimes we’ll skip the fried egg and makes this Thai omelette instead.
Bang Bang Chicken Salad Recipe for a Fresh Light Take on the Spicy Sichuan Speciality
Our bang bang chicken salad recipe is next on our list of easy weeknight dinners we have on rotation. It’s inspired by the classic Chinese bang bang chicken, a Sichuan cuisine specialty of cold succulent chicken in a delicious sesame sauce with a hot and numbing Sichuanese chilli oil.
Crisp lettuce, crunchy cucumbers and fresh fragrant coriander transform the dish into a lovely light yet filling salad that’s a cinch to make and comes together quickly.
The dish is also a fantastic use of poached chicken breasts, which we always seem to have in the fridge, which is why you’ll find it in this collection of our best poached chicken breast recipes.
A tip: use a meat thermometer to check that the thickest part of the chicken breasts have reached 74°C (165°F), so you don’t overcook the chicken breasts. If the chicken breasts are of uneven thickness, it might pay to wrap the chicken breasts in cling film and flatten them a little using a kitchen mallet.
The reason we use chicken breasts for this salad instead of chicken thighs is that there’s very little fat on them and poaching the breasts gently gives the best results. While fat is flavour, once you taste the sauce you know you don’t need to have the chicken bursting with flavour. The addition of the ginger makes the chicken aromatic.
Tonkatsu Recipe for the Most Tender Juicy Japanese Deep Fried Pork Cutlet Ever
This tonkatsu recipe is another of our easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat. It makes the most tender Japanese deep fried pork cutlet you’ll ever taste. This simple but revered deep-fried pork dish boasts an amazing crunch from panko breadcrumbs, melt-in-your-mouth moist pork, and the tangy taste of tonkatsu sauce.
When we need a break from Southeast Asian cooking, this Japanese favourite is one of the first dishes we’ll make. I’ll never forget when Terence perfected his recipe and made it for the photo shoot, it was so delicious I asked him to make it again the next night. Terence didn’t need much persuading.
Follow Terence’s tonkatsu recipe below and you will make the best tonkatsu ever. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. After a few times making this, you won’t look at the recipe again. We make this so regularly, we’re on auto-pilot these days.
The key to tender tonkatsu is brining – anything from one hour up to eight hours for the most melt-in-the-mouth tonkatsu. This is a tonkatsu recipe to follow closely. This is not a recipe to try and be creative with, but trust us, it’s worth the rewards.
While store-bought tonkatsu sauces are fine, most brands are expensive, and our tonkatsu sauce recipe can be made with ingredients you probably have at home. Tonkatsu leftovers? Make this tonkatsu fried rice the next night.
Classic Burmese Chicken Curry Recipe for an Aromatic Tomato Based Curry
This classic Burmese chicken curry recipe makes a fragrant gently-spiced curry that is perfumed with turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli, and lemongrass. It’s another of our easy weeknight dinners we put on repeat week after week.
A rich curry with a moreish tomato-based gravy and a layer of aromatic oil that’s quickly soaked up by the coconut rice, it should be served with a refreshing salad, such as this juicy Shan tomato salad or crunchy Burmese raw cabbage salad, both of which are also easy to prepare.
I adapted this classic Burmese chicken curry recipe from my favourite Burmese cookbook, Mi Mi Khaing’s Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, dating to 1978. It’s a delightful little booklet that is as much a historical document as it is a practical cookbook.
This chicken curry recipe is straightforward, but one tip: make this curry in a big round bottomed wok, as it will be faster than a pot. A Dutch oven also works. And use a rice cooker to do the rice. It’s so much faster and results in perfect rice.
Chilli Con Carne Recipe For Those Who Like Their Chilli Hot and Smoky
Terence’s chilli con carne recipe makes a good old bowl of chilli for those who like their chilli hot and smoky. It’s another of our easy weeknight dinners we have on repeat but note that this recipe is not one of those quick chilli recipes. It’s a hearty chilli that takes a few hours to cook, but it definitely doesn’t take a lot of work to make.
While we’ll eat this chilli the first night with just some garnish, perhaps some Mexican cotija and jalapenos, and maybe a salad, the next day we’ll use chilli leftovers to make nachos (with a side of guacamole) and then usually finish off the batch of chilli con carne the day after by making quesadillas.
Of course, if you want to save this chilli con carne for the weekend, and you want a quicker and simpler chilli, try this easy vegetarian chilli recipe which makes a chilli con carne sin carne (without meat). It’s vegan if you eat it without dairy accompaniments such as sour cream and cheese.
While this bean chilli is a cinch to make and comes together quickly, it’s full of so much flavour thanks to the spices that even meat-lovers won’t miss the beef mince. It’s also one of our best canned beans recipes if you’re looking for wallet-friendly meals during these fiscally challenging times.
This white bean chilli recipe also makes a fuss-free chilli con carne with ground pork rather than beef and white beans instead of kidney beans. We use butter beans and cannellini beans, as well as corn kernels to add a little sweetness and crunch. It’s gently spiced, but you could always turn up the heat with more chilli.
And if you do save the chilli con carne for the weekend, why not make a full Mexican cum Tex-Mex food feast, do see our recipes for a tortilla soup from San Miguel de Allende, tacos al pastor inspired by the tacos at Salón Corona in Mexico City, and char-grilled corn on the cob street food snack called elotes and a grilled corn salad. We also have recipes for classic margaritas and micheladas.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of these easy weeknight dinners that we put on repeat, as we’d love to hear how they turned out for you.