5 Weeknight Meals to Manage the Post-Thanksgiving Frenzy

It’s an exciting week of shopping, celebrating, hosting, working, and checking things off your list. Double these weeknight dinner recipes for lentil soup, beef stew, and mac and cheese to cover lunch the next day.

5 Weeknight Meals to Manage the Post-Thanksgiving Frenzy

Before emigrating to the U.S., I lived in Paraguay among American expats who introduced me to mac and cheese, Swedish Fish, and the joy of toasting marshmallows on a stick fireside. My first year in America, I wrote back home about a specific culture shock: The post-Thanksgiving frenzy.

After a giant meal, the whole country seemed en route to something: doorbuster shopping deals, family and friends, another cocktail party, Christmas light displays, and to check off last-minute year-end errands. Nearly 20 years later, I'm here busily rumbling along with everyone else. 

The hustle and bustle of this week has me feeling unmoored, so I’ve gathered five comforting weeknight meals that can be doubled to enjoy for lunch the next day and for guests that stop by unannounced. There’s decidedly grown-up mac and cheese, lentil soup, a quick and easy Instant Pot fish dish, and a spicy and fragrant beef stew.

  • Italian Wedding Soup

    Easy Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
    Sheryl Julian

    You could use a leaner ground meat like chicken or turkey, but ground pork gives the soup a comforting lusciousness I love. Don’t go out and buy it, but if you happened to hold onto a leftover Parmesan rind, toss it in the soup to amplify the flavor by, like, a million. 

  • Green Chile Mac and Cheese

    Green Chile Mac Cheese
    Elise Bauer

    This mac and cheese is boosted with roasted green chilis, corn, and jack cheese. Chop leftover turkey or ham and fold it in before baking for a complete meal and a smart way to use Thanksgiving leftovers

  • Lentil Soup

    Lentil Soup
    Sally Vargas

    This is the quickest, most adaptable Lentil Soup you can throw together all winter. It takes 15 minutes to prep, and you could dice and add any vegetables you have on hand. Crumbled sausage and chopped kale are always welcome. Make a double batch for lunch tomorrow or to freeze. My carb loving family always asks for this for dipping.

  • Instant Pot Ginger-Soy Tilapia

    Pressure Cooker Ginger-Soy Tilapia with an Instant Pot set behind it.
    Sally Vargas

    It’s no surprise that the Instant Pot has changed the way I cook and think about dinner meals that take a long time to cook like stews and braises come together much faster. But what about fish? Two to three minutes on the high pressure setting cooks the fish without drying it out. For this recipe, any white fish like haddock, cod, flounder, and pollack is delicious. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • Jamaican Beef Stew with Scotch Bonnet, Ginger and Allspice

    Two bowls of Jamaican Beef Stew served with rice.
    Kalisa Marie Martin

    Before you pop the Instant Pot back into storage, try this stovetop beef stew recipe that can be adapted for a much quicker cook. In the Instant Pot, brown the meat and cook the marinade on the sauté setting. Add the veg and cook the stew on high pressure for about 35 minutes. It’s perfect for when you don’t have all day to cook the stew low and slow. 

  • Weekend Baker: Chocolate Cranberry Rugelach

    Chocolate Rugelach with Cranberry
    Sally Vargas

    This week marks the beginning of Hannukah. If you celebrate, Happy Hannukah! Although my family doesn’t celebrate this holiday, we lived around the corner of Breads Bakery, a Jewish bakery in New York City, where giant stacks of chocolate rugelach and sufganiyot, a round jelly doughnut, drew long lines. 

    I’m many miles away this year, so I won’t be waiting in line. I can still recreate these tender and crumbly filled cookies in my kitchen. Nutella or cinnamon sugar are my favorite fillings.