Easy Weeknight Dinners for Fall

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easy weeknight dinners

School has started, and I’m doing all I can to keep the pace of our days as slow and laid back as possible. It’s very easy to succumb to chaos this time of year. With new schools, new activities, and new schedules, I think it’s so important to keep things simple whenever possible. Even when it comes to weeknight dinners. 

As the leaves prepare to turn, I tend to do a lot more batch cooking than in summer. I love having a big pot of soup or chili in the fridge and freezer ready to go.

Here are some of my fave weeknight dinners for fall. These meals are great to make or prep ahead, and both will yield two+ meals for a family of four. You can adapt these for the slow cooker or instant pot pretty easily too – just chuck everything in and cook it on low.

Loaded Chili – serves 4 with a good heap of leftovers

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
  • Cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and paprika
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, medium diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with chili peppers, drain the excess liquid
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 2 cans of beans, drained (I prefer kidney and black beans)

Warm up a large Dutch oven or stockpot on medium-high heat. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper, then add the spices. Start with a tablespoon of cumin and paprika, a teaspoon of chili powder, and a sprinkle of cayenne. Taste and add more chili powder and cayenne, depending on how you like it. Move everything to a pile on one side.

Toss in your meats, season with salt and pepper, and brown for 3-5 minutes. Add the diced sweet potatoes for 3-5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, corn, and beans, and cook till bubbling. Cover and turn it down to a simmer for 20-60 minutes. Serve with shredded cheddar, Greek yogurt or sour cream, and chopped romaine lettuce on top. Chives and cilantro also taste amazing with this chili, but they’re totally optional, and I don’t usually bother with them during the week. This meal is great all the way through winter. Plus, you can have it with eggs on top for breakfast or brunch! The sweet potatoes add something interesting and special to this cozy classic.

Chicken Fajitas – serves 4 plus leftovers for a fajita salad

  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • 4 peppers, sliced – a mix of colors is best
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp each – cumin and chili powder
  • Dash of cayenne and red pepper flakes
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • 2 heads of romaine for second-day salad

Preheat a large pan over medium-high heat. Cast iron works best, but any large pan will do. Warm up some olive oil and add the chicken, cooking 2-4 minutes without stirring or until the chicken is browned. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Add some extra oil if the pan is dry and sauté the peppers, onions, and garlic with a little salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the spices. Cook until chicken is done and everything is nicely mixed up.

Warm-up your tortillas briefly in a separate pan. Top the warmed tortillas with the chicken and pepper mixture, a couple of avocado slices, and sour cream. You can also add salsa and cheese on top too. The next day cut up some romaine and make quick and easy fajita salads.

This time of year, I’m into anything warm, comforting, and simple for our family table. What are your favorite weeknight dinners for fall? 

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Amy is a Hudson Valley native and educator working in New York City schools. She has two little kids and one little dog. Before moving to her current home in Ossining, Amy attended college on Long Island and then spent most of her 20s in Brooklyn and Queens. New York is truly home for her, and she’s thrilled to be living closer to her hometown of Garrison and her extended family. As a mom, Amy believes in empowered parenting, and she’s passionate about raising her kids to be partners in the fight for social justice. When she’s not working or trying to figure out nap time, Amy loves hiking, yoga, swimming, and relaxing with her family.