5 Weeknight Dinners to Transition from Summer Days to School Schedules

It’s the dog days of summer, and the scene is switching up. Here’s a stack of easy weeknight recipes from steak fajitas to salmon or a simple wedge salad to help you ease into a new seasonal rhythm.

"What's For Dinner" with a sheet pan of Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings with a dipping sauce on the side.

This month, welcome Sara Bir . Sara Bir is the author of two cookbooks, Tasting Ohio and the IACP award-winning The Fruit Forager's Companion. She also moderates and replies to your comments here on Simply Recipes. Follow her @sausagetarian.

As a kid, I met the end of summer vacation with a mix of anticipation and dread. It’s not so poignant as an adult, but I still feel a soft melancholy knowing the long days and warm nights are embarking upon their way out for the year...just like the last of the lightning bugs glowing after the sun sets.

Do you get similar pangs? There are still plenty of summery nights left, so make the most of them as you transition to the altered schedules of school or whatever changes life may hold for you! These are light, carefree recipes to enjoy while mentally adjusting to the eve of autumn.

One last thing: Looking for dinner ideas? You're in the right spot! We have delicious meal plans to suit every taste and lifestyle—Healthy Eating, Family Favorites, and Vegetarian just to name a few. These one-month plans are $6.95 and, with them, you get a dessert and weekend prep recipe and a shopping list. They're beautifully designed and perfect to print and save or simply load and cook right from your computer!

  • Easy Grilled Steak Fajitas

    Plate with grilled steak foil packet opened up to reveal steak, peppers, onions inside. Avocado slices and sour cream are also in the packet and a flour tortilla is to the right.
    Nick Evans | Art Banner Credit: Andy Christensen

    The veggies cook in a foil packet as the steak sizzles on the grill. You can assemble the veggie packets and season the steak in advance, so once it’s showtime, all you need to do is light the grill! This is like a classic Americanized Mexican food joint entree, for that fun cantina vibe at home.

  • Cacio e Pepe Chicken Wings

    Parmesan and Pepper Fried Chicken Wings Recipe
    Aaron Hutcherson

    Wait, cacio e pepe? What even is that? It’s Italian for cheese and pepper, as in parmesan and black pepper. These zesty wings are first fried, then baked to melt the cheese. Not into frying? Season the wings as directed in Step 2, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet, bake at 425°F for 25-35 minutes (until browned), then toss in the melted butter, grated parmesan, and black pepper seasoning as in Step 3. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread, or Caprese Pasta Salad.

  • Salmon Provencal

    Salmon Provencal
    Elise Bauer

    Bake salmon fillets and serve them with a relish-salsa hybrid of fresh tomatoes, herbs, and shallots. The recipe calls to blanch the tomatoes and peel off their skins, but to shave off five minutes of prep time, you can just skip that step. Cook some corn on the cob and your dinner’s all set!

  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Glaze

    Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Glaze
    Elise Bauer

    Pork tenderloin is so quick to cook and so satisfying, it’s a minimalist’s dream. Here, it gets a marinade spiked with sticky orange marmalade, plus a finishing glaze. Serve with this quick and easy Charred Skillet Broccoli.

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  • Classic Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

    Three wedge salads on white plates. The salads have blue cheese dressing, halved tomatoes and bacon on top.
    Sheryl Julian

    Do you ever have a big salad for dinner? This steakhouse classic combines crisp and cool iceberg with creamy dressing and salty bacon for a delight in flavor and texture contrasts. To make it vegetarian, skip the bacon. I could make a meal of this, but you can do a platter of quick Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil—it’s a whole dinner of apps and starters! It’s Friday, why not?