Sometimes, dinner doesn’t call for a massive meal to be spread out with multiple steps and large portions. You’re not cooking to impress friends every night of the week. Sometimes, you’re just making dinner for yourself, and you’re not looking for anything over the top or with a lot of ingredients. You want a single-portioned meal that can be made fairly quickly with limited cleanup and not a ton of steps. It should also be pretty tasty, too. Is that too much to ask?
Absolutely not! We’ve got a handful of recipes that fit all these criteria, with the added bonus of plenty of downtime so you can relax while dinner preparing a tasty dinner.
Grilled Cheese and French Onion Soup
You normally wouldn’t pair these two together, but there’s a good reason why we’re using them for this meal. They just click like two puzzle pieces. Grilled cheese is usually paired with tomato soup for its slight tang and savory flavor, something that French onion soup has in spades. It also has a rich depth of flavor that brings an interesting new angle to your classic grilled cheese. For the soup, you usually broil it with a topping of Gruyere or Comte cheese and some croutons for texture. In this instance, you’re replacing the croutons and the cheese with the sandwich and dipping it as you go along. As an added benefit, both are very easy to make for a single portion, unlike the usual combination with grilled cheese, tomato soup.
The secret to this dish is toasting both sides of the bread. Not only does this help the cheese to melt more evenly and thoroughly, it also adds a crunch to the sandwich that’s hard to beat. As for the soup, it’s easily adaptable so you can get the consistency you want by reducing or adding liquid as necessary. This is truly an incredibly easy and stress-free dinner to make!
Medicareful’s Perfect Grilled Cheese
- Two slices of bread of your choice (white, wheat, whole grain, etc.)
- 2-3 slices of cheese of your choice (American, cheddar, Havarti, Gruyere, etc.)
- 2 tbsp of butter
- Melt a ½ tablespoon of butter in a small pan.
- Toast one side of a slice of bread.
- Remove the bread from the pan and lay it on a paper plate with the toasted side facing up. Arrange the slices of cheese on the bread so that the slice of bread is fully covered, allowing the cheese to melt slowly with the residual heat from the toasted bread.
- Melt another ½ tablespoon of butter and toast one side of the other slice of bread.
- Place the toasted side of the second slice of bread down on top of the other slice, making the two toasted sides the inside of the grilled cheese sandwich.
- Add another ½ tablespoon of butter to the pan and toast one of the outsides of the sandwich before adding the final ½ tablespoon and toasting the final side.
- Allow the sandwich to rest for a minute or so, cut in half, and serve!
French Onion Soup
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced thinly
- ½ tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of butter
- ½ tbsp of sugar
- 1 tbsp of flour
- ¼ cup of dry white wine
- 2 cups of vegetable or beef stock, unsalted or low sodium if possible
- Slice the large onion thinly and set aside.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a large sauce pot.
- Add the onions and the sugar. Allow the onions to sauté on medium heat until translucent and caramelized, between 20 and 30 minutes, depending on your stove, how thick you cut the onions, and how caramelized you want your onions.
- Sprinkle the flour over top the onions and stir until they’re thoroughly coated.
- Add the wine and stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to mix together completely.
- Raise heat to high and bring the stock mix to a boil before lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
- Allow to simmer for around 15 minutes, or until it’s reduced to your desired thickness. If the soup gets too thick, add some water and return the soup to a simmer. Taste it, add salt or pepper to taste, and serve!
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Rice
This next recipe is as simple as making rice and then throwing the other ingredients together into a baking dish. Then you’re pretty much done. The beauty of this recipe is also the variations you can bring to it. While we have a few vegetables picked out that’ll go nicely together, you can throw just about any vegetables you want into this recipe, and it’ll probably work. This makes it an excellent “what do I have in the fridge?” recipe, pulling out the last bit of shredded carrots or potatoes you have on hand. As the ingredients all roast together, the flavors meld and add up to a balanced dish. You can even throw in some fresh herbs if you have them!
With the rice acting as a base, you can also add a sauce of your choice to give the dish an extra kick of flavor. It’s totally optional since the ingredients will add enough flavor on their own for a satisfying dinner, but you could easily add a little spice with a hot sauce or brightness with a squeeze of lemon, for example.
Roasted Chicken Rice Bowl
- ½ of a chicken breast, cubed
- 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 10 spears of asparagus, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, halved
- ½ of a sweet onion, diced
- ¼ cup of dry rice
- ½ cup of water
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a small saucepan, bring a ½ cup of water to a boil and stir in ¼ cup of rice. Return the water to a boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, and cover the pan. The rice should take around 15 minutes until it’s tender and has absorbed the water but keep an eye on it throughout the cooking process. You can start the rest of the recipe while this is simmering. Once the rice is done, remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, and set aside.
- Cut the half of chicken breast into one-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper.
- In an 8x8 inch glass baking dish, add the halved cherry tomatoes, halved garlic cloves, diced sweet onion, chopped asparagus, and chicken cubes. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place the dish in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, before removing from the oven, stirring everything together, and returning to the oven.
- Roast for 10 to 15 more minutes, remove from the oven, and stir in the rice.
- Roast for 5 more minutes, until the chicken cubes are cooked through.
- Serve in a bowl, optionally stirring in sriracha or your favorite sauce.
Cajun Grill Packet
This final dish is actually one we wrote for our Mardi Gras classics article, but it fits into this article so perfectly that we had to bring it back. While the original recipe was for three people, we were able to downsize the ingredients enough to make a portion for one easily, quickly, and with such little cleanup. A foil packet is perfect for a meal like this because all the ingredients are just thrown together in the packet, seasoned, and then cooked together. This eliminates the majority of the cooking utensils or vessels you may otherwise need. Just wrap it and grill it. If you don’t have a grill, throw it in the oven, making sure to put the grill packet on a cookie sheet in case there’s some leakage.
Seafood is perhaps the best kind of protein to go in a grill packet because of how quickly it cooks. With the shrimp or halibut we use in our recipe below, you won’t really have to worry about undercooked protein. The only ingredient of slight concern is the sausage, but that’ll cook quickly enough to not be an issue. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a simple meal you can make very quickly when you’re just cooking for yourself, it’s hard to top a grill packet.
Cajun Shrimp Grill Packet Recipe
- 5 uncooked shrimp, deveined and peeled
- 1/3 cup of corn
- 14 small potatoes, washed and quartered
- 1 halibut fillet
- 1 small link of Andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil
- ¾ tbsp of paprika
- ½ tbsp of cayenne pepper
- ½ tbsp of dried oregano
- ¼ tbsp of dried thyme
- ¾ tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of salt
- ¼ tbsp of black pepper
- 1 lemon cut into wedges (optional)
- Mix the dry seasonings into a Creole/Cajun spice mix.
- Roll out a sheet of tin foil that is roughly 12-inches wide and 14-inches long.
- Place the shrimp, halibut filet, corn, potatoes, and sausage into the tin foil sheet.
- Drizzle the food in the packet with the olive oil.
- Sprinkle the spice mix over the food in the packet and mix.
- Close the foil packet by folding the sides tightly, so nothing slides out.
- Place on the grill or in the oven, both heated to 350°F. If you’re placing in the oven, make sure to put the packet on a baking sheet, to prevent oil from dripping through the grates.
- Bake/grill for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp have turned bright pink and the sausages are cooked through.
- Serve with an optional lemon wedge for garnish!