Meal Planning 5 Easy Weeknight Dinners

Meal Planning 5 Easy Weeknight Dinners

Here are some of my favorite go to’s when meal planning, 5 Easy Weeknight Dinners.

We are all so busy these days, which makes Meal Planning Easy Weeknight Dinners such a great time saver for you and your family. These are just a few of  my favorites that will save you time, either by using an Instant Pot, or my One Sheet Wonder Techniques.


This recipe is based off the Pioneer Jar soup gift jar recipe that people give at the holidays as neighbor gifts. One of my sweet friends, Erin, always makes a batch of these every year. I love the base soup so much that I have doctored it up to create a heartier version for more of a meal verses a soup. I tend to call this recipe more of a stoup than a soup, because it is thicker than a traditional soup. By adding loads of chunked chicken breast. Along with an additional wild rice, a bag of mirepoix, and a fresh mix of mushrooms like shiitakes or even Portobello’s on occasions, which lend a nice beefy texture. Then by using the Instant Pot it speeds up the cooking time by half and does all the heavy lifting for me.

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5 from 5 votes

Pioneer Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Course Soup
Cuisine American, Soul, Southern
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 376kcal
Author Jennifer Gainer


  • Instant Pot 3 Qt. Mini ( can be doubled for a larger 6 Qt. Pot)
  • Bamboo Spurtles 
  • Stock Pot
  • Ladle


  • 1 bag Mirepoix frozen- carrots, onion, celery mix
  • 1 lb Chicken Diced or chunked
  • 8 oz Mushrooms Any Kind roughly chopped (I used Shiitake Mushrooms for texture)Portobellos or Buttons can be used
  • 1 cup Brown Rice or white
  • 1/2 cup Wild Rice
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth or to your fill line of your Instant Pot
  • 2 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1 envelope Pioneer Sausage White Gravy Mix
  • 2 tbsp Butter Flavored Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 2 tbsp Knorr Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 tbsp Penzey's Season Salt


  • Add Seasoned Chicken (with seasoned salt)  and Mirepoix to Instant Pot and Saute' with olive oil for 10 minutes.
  • Then place all ingredient into the Instant Pot, except for the gravy mix and milk. Only fill with stock to just below your Instant Pot fill line, you may have stock in reserve with can be used to thin at the end.
  • Stir to combine. Cover, seal the lid, and cook on manual/high pressure for 20 minutes.
  • When finished, allow to vent naturally this may take 10 minutes, then use the quick release function to vent steam remaining steam. 
  • While cooking,  mix gravy mix, and milk in separate bowl, to make a roux.
  • Pour the roux into the Instant Pot, after venting stir everything together to combine well. If too thick you can add any remaining stock too thin to desired consistency. Serve and enjoy

2- Tortilla Soup

This recipe is for your Taco Tuesday on the go, so you could try a version of my simple Instant Pot Tortilla Soup. This is one of our steady go to recipes that has a ton of flavor and easily pairs perfectly with quesadilla’s for dipping or just chips and salsa to keep it light. Filled with hearty chunks of chicken and tons of vegetables this one is winner all the time and very figure friendly too.  Perfect for all my weight watchers gals out there at only 200 calories a bowl, if you leave off the optional garnishes like sour cream, cheese and avocado.

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5 from 5 votes

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mexican, Tex Mex
Keyword Chicken, Chicken Soup, Leftover, Soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Natural Pressure Release 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 200kcal
Author Jennifer Gainer


  • Instant Pot 3 Qt. Mini ( can be doubled for a larger 6 Qt. Pot)
  • Stock Pot
  • Bamboo Spurtles 
  • Ladle
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board


  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil Cilantro & Onion
  • 1 Onion small (Vidalia onion) minced
  • 2 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 Jalapeños
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 14.5 Fire Roasted Tomatoes diced
  • 1 14.5 Spicy Black Beans lightly drained
  • 1 14.5 Corn drained, rinsed
  • 1 lb Chicken breasts diced or sliced, (you can cook whole then shred if you have time)
  • 2 Limes
  • 1/4 cup Rice
  • 1 Avocado sliced or chunked for garnish
  • 1 cup Shredded Mexican style cheese garnish
  • 1 cup Cilantro fresh, rough cut
  • 1 bag Tortilla chips or strips garnish only


  • Place Instant Pot on Saute setting, add the chicken, onions, and garlic to the pot. Once browned after 5-7 minutes turn off pot. 
  • Pour the chicken stock over the corn, tomatoes, beans, jalapenos and rice.
  • Place the lid on, lock it, and cook the mixture on manual high pressure for 10 minutes.
  • Let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes. Serve into bowls and squeeze with half a lime. Top with cheese, chip strips, avocado, and cilantro.  You can also add sour cream and salsa if you wish. 

3- Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice

I have always loved Thai Cuisine so it only makes sense that I would try to learn how to prepare it myself. Especially since we moved to area where the Thai food is not readily available, and if it is, it very good along with all the Asian Food in our neck of the woods. All I can say is  I really miss it and I drive great distances to pick up my favorites. The secret in this recipe is the fresh Thai Basil, which I grow myself. I love the fact that this meal, can be made in my Instant Pot, and that it is not an all day affair, it is quick and easy ready in 30 minutes.

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5 from 1 vote

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Fried Rice

Course Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Keyword Rice, Stir Fry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Natural Steam Release 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 394kcal
Author Jennifer


  • Instant Pot 3 Qt. Mini ( can be doubled for a larger 6 Qt. Pot)


  • 1 lb Chicken Breast diced
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup Spring Onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup Thai Basil fresh, whole leaves
  • 3 cups Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1/2 tbsp Ginger minced
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 2 tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter crunchy
  • 1 1/2 cup Brown Rice
  • 1/4 cup Shredded Carrots garnish
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts garnish
  • 2 tbsp Thai Basil garnish
  • 1 tbsp Baklouti Green Chili Olive Oil


  • Select Saute on your Instant Pot for 10 minutes add in Olive Oil and brown Chicken for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add Peppers, Spring Onion, garlic and Thai Basil for the remaining saute time.
  • Add in all other ingredients except for the garnishes. Stir to combine.
  • Secure lid and set Instant Pot to Manual High Pressure setting for 10 minutes. When finished allow steam to naturally release.
  • Garnish with carrot shreds, peanuts and fresh Thai basil.

4- Pasta Ronaldo

This recipe is named for my husband since I created it and he loved it. It is a basic one pot wonder kind of Mediterranean style, pasta dish. It contains chicken or  you could use shrimp or a mixture of both. Pine nuts, feta cheese, mushrooms, black olives and sun dried tomatoes. I used to create this with a jarred pesto sauce but now I create my own which can be seen in the Herbivore Harvest post. You can also just use a brown butter sauce as seen in this recipe card as well. It is a very forgiving recipe that can be slightly altered based upon what you currently have in your pantry, which makes it an easy weekend night go too.  Plus it is ready in minutes and tastes amazing.

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5 from 1 vote

Pasta Ronaldo

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Jennifer


  • 1 lb Chicken Breast diced
  • 16 oz Pasta- Trottole
  • 2 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil (Tuscan Variety)
  • 2 tsp Organo fresh
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 4 oz Pine Nuts toasted
  • 8 oz Feta Cheese
  • 4 oz Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Black Olive sliced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese sliced or grated
  • 4 oz Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp Butter cubed
  • 1 jar Pesto Sauce I like Classico - if you are not making from scratch with my Pesto Recipe


  1. Boil water for pasta, add dash of salt drop pasta for 9-12 depending on desired consistency. Drain  
  2. In a wok pan add, oil to brown chicken, add herbs, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts, lightly toast. 
  3. Toss in pasta with butter and then add mushrooms and olives. 
  4. Remove from heat add in feta cheese and top with parmesan. 


This is always a great staple and now with the Instant Pot it is literally ready in minutes. I like this white bean chicken version since it is lighter and and bit more calorie friendly, while still providing all the flavors that I love. Best part is if you have leftovers you can easily make a chili mac putting it over 1 cup of elbow macaroni and topping it with some sharp cheddar cheese. If you are like my husband he likes to add fresh minced onions and oyster crackers to the top of his chili mac while, I stir in a spoon full of sour cream. 

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5 from 1 vote

Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili

Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mexican, Southern
Keyword Chicken, chili, Corn, Instant Pot
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Natural Release Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 245kcal
Author Jennifer Gainer


  • Instant Pot 3 Qt. Mini ( can be doubled for a larger 6 Qt. Pot)
  • Ladle
  • Spurtle
  • Stock Pot


  • 1 tbsp Baklouti Green Chili Pepper Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1 Onion minced, sweet vidalia
  • 1 Green Pepper minced
  • 1 Jalapeños fresh, minced
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 can  Cannellini Beans drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup  Cilantro chopped fresh
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano fresh
  • 1 16oz Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup Corn Mesa can use cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup Mexican Cheese Blend (nacho/taco)


  • Turn instant pot on to saute, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the ground chicken, onions, peppers, dry seasonings and cook until meat is no longer pink. Drain any excess grease if necessary.
  • Turn the Instant Pot off then add 2 tbsp cilantro, and the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • Set the instant pot to manual, high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release.
  • OPTIONAL:  In a small bowl mix together the corn mesa (or cornstarch) and water until smooth and immediately whisk into hot chili. 
  • Allow to thicken for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and sour cream.



I love my Purple Trail planner I ordered last Christmas so it only makes sense that I would try out their meal planners too. They have a handy layout where you can out your meals and your shopping list for the week. Of course like the planners they are all customizable so you can add sections you want to create the planner you need all online before you order.

They also have a ton of of really cute patterns or you can even upload your own pictures too for a more custom look. You can choose from a bound book style or ringed binder style, so really the possibilities are endless. These are make great gift ideas as I mention last season with my Proper, Proper, Planning, Gift Giving Post. Plus by using my special my friends and family link here: JENRON DESIGNS can you Save $10 off your order of $50 or more.  Plus you always get free shipping on all orders over $75 so think about getting you planner and maybe your holiday cards too.

PIN ME for later and be sure to follow us on Pinterest at Jen @ JENRON DESIGNS


Shop My Favorite Instant Pot Accessories:


  1. These all look yummy and to know that they are really easy to prepare! Thanks for the recipes. Definitely worth trying.

  2. The chicken tortilla soup sounds amazing to me. Fall is right around the corner and it is going to be time to start making soups again. I’m going to bookmark this then get inspired to try making some new soups. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Luna S

    That tortilla soup looks so good! At the moment it is still a bit too hot out to want to make soup of any kind but I am going to make this when it cools down a bit.

  4. I’ve been looking for easy instant pot recipes. I’m definitely going to try out the three here. I need to start cooking something other than hard boiled eggs in my instant pot.

  5. Such great meals! I have never made any of these, but the boyfriend makes a pretty good chicken tortilla soup! All of these sound amazing! I can’t wait to make the southwestern chicken chili! (or see if I can make it–LOL)

  6. Jubilee D. Meyer

    That chicken tortilla soup is calling my name! Growing up in Texas, that was always my favorite soup to order. Gonna save this for our next family get together 😋🧡

  7. gigi58

    Love all of these great ideas for easy and quick dinners.

  8. Sage

    Hi, very nice website, cheers!

  9. I love how quick these meals are. Having kids means getting food on the table quickly! I especially like the look of Pasta Ronaldo and look forward to trying it, thanks!

  10. Wow! Jen, these all look so delicious. Will definitely try a few of them …we love hearty soups and one-bowl meals in my household. Planning for the week makes so much sense especially now with trying to limit our trips to the market.

  11. Mary

    So excited to try these recipes. I need to get better at meal planning!! Thanks for the great start to my planning!

  12. judean

    These are great! We already make a couple of these already! Love soups and chili, especially since it really hasn’t become spring yet here!

  13. These look amazingly delicious! Definitely going to have try a few!

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