That's SO Jenn / Jenn Press Arata

In a dinner rut? Here are five quick, simple and affordable suggestions to get you through the week:

Hot dog night: With the weather getting warmer, it's a great time to start firing up the grill. Throw on some hot dogs or veggie dogs, warm a few buns and make yourself a fixin' station with mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut, sauteed peppers, crispy onions -- and even a warm black bean and corn salsa for a fast chili. Dinner will be on the table with the opening of a few jars and a quick turn of your tongs.

Make your own pizza night: Pick up some regular or whole-wheat pizza dough from your local bakery and get everyone involved by rolling it out together. Want an even quicker option? Purchase pre-made crusts or use English muffins, pita pockets or mini bagels as the base. Build a buffet of your favorite toppings and be adventurous with twists, such as jarred vodka sauce, fried egg or fresh salad on top after your pie is already cooked.

Create your own fast food night: For a healthier fix, put together an at-home version of drive-through classics. Slice regular or sweet potatoes for oven-baked fries. Serve low-fat chicken or soy nuggets with honey mustard and BBQ sauces for dipping. Stack burgers or veggie patties on light hamburger rolls with lettuce, tomato, cheese and desired condiments. It's fast food you can feel better about eating.

Taco night: Time for a fiesta! Brown up some ground beef or vegan soy crumbles in a pan with onions, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange taco shells next to a variety of add-ons such as shredded lettuce, assorted cheeses, seasoned rice, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, guacamole and jarred taco sauces from the grocery store. Switch things up and enjoy easy fish tacos (I like Dr. Praeger's frozen fish sticks) in a soft shell with mango salsa and arugula.

Breakfast for dinner night: For most of us, a weekday breakfast equals a to-go cup of coffee and anything we can eat on the run. Why not flip things around and wind down with these foods after a long day of work? Take out the griddle for simple pancakes filled however you like them, throw together a veggie omelette for a good dose of protein. Sizzle up bacon and sausage, pop a few pieces of bread in the toaster, and fill small bowls with a sampling of different cereals. Add fresh fruit for dessert (or better yet a Greek yogurt smoothie) and you've got yourself a balanced, satisfying meal.

Jenn Press Arata is a food writer and blogger. Visit her blog at She also can be followed on Twitter, @thatssojennblog.

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