The next time you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, open a can of beans! Endlessly versatile, they make the perfect base for fast, easy, and inexpensive weeknight dinners. Plus, beans can make any meal more filling, helping you feel satisfied for longer.

A few of our favorites: cannellini, black, and rich, red kidney beans. Toss them into quesadillas, soups and stews, hearty salads, and beyond. Here’s a roster of weeknight-friendly recipes — from Southwest to Sriracha-spiked — to reinvigorate those bland evening meals.

Seriously. What’s not to love?

What’s better than a quick dip-able quesadilla? You can serve these with a variety of savory garnishes or stay plain to keep it simple.

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • ¼ sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (10-inch diameter)


  1. Scrub and dry the sweet potato. Use a paring knife to remove any eyes or bruised spots. Prick the sweet potato once or twice with a fork. Place it on a microwave-safe dish and cook it in the microwave until soft (about 5 minutes on high).
  2. When the sweet potato is cooked, allow it to cool for a few minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin. Mash the flesh.
  3. Spread ¼ of the mashed sweet potato on one half of each tortilla. Using a fork, lightly mash ¼ cup of pinto beans and spread on the other half of each tortilla. Arrange the onion slices on top of the beans. Sprinkle the cheese over the onion. Fold each tortilla in half and press it closed.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add two of the quesadillas to the skillet. Toast the quesadillas until the cheese begins to melt. Flip and toast the other side of the quesadillas. Repeat with the remaining two quesadillas.
  5. Garnish the quesadillas with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

Nutrition per quesadilla (no garnishes)

Calories 336.9
Total fat 9.6 g
Saturated fat 4.0 g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 12.5 mg
Total carbohydrate 48.3 g
Dietary fiber 7.6 g
Sugars 3.9 g
Protein 12.6 g
Sodium 814.4 mg
Potassium 546.9 mg

With beans, tuna, and two cups of greens, this easy but elegant dish packs a powerful wallop of:

  • protein
  • heart-healthy fats
  • complex carbohydrates

It comes together quickly for a casual weeknight meal — and also works well for small dinner parties.

Makes 4 servings


  • 8 ounces dried, whole grain, rotini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 can (15.5-ounce) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (6-ounce) tuna packed in oil, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • salt and black pepper


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water, according to the package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), stirring frequently.
  3. Add the beans, tuna, lemon juice, and chili flakes to the skillet. Cook until warmed (about 5 to 7 minutes), stirring frequently.
  4. When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander. Combine the cooked pasta with the warm bean and tuna mixture. Add the arugula. Toss to mix.
  5. Season to taste, adding salt and black pepper if needed.

Nutrition per ¼ recipe (about 1½ cups)

Calories 392
Total fat 12.3 g
Saturated fat 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated fat 5.0 g
Cholesterol 20 mg
Total carbohydrate 56.3 g
Dietary fiber 11.3 g
Sugars 2.3 g
Protein 21.8 g
Sodium 407 mg
Potassium 276 mg

Kielbasa and baked beans make for a hearty soup that will leave you full and satisfied.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 8 ounces kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 cans (16-ounce) baked beans
  • 1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until the vegetables start to soften (about 5 minutes), stirring frequently.
  2. Add the garlic and chili flakes. Cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds), stirring frequently.
  3. Add the kielbasa, baked beans, diced tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 15 to 25 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Season to taste, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Nutrition per 1/6 recipe (about 1½ cups)

Calories 379.6
Total fat 16.6 g
Saturated fat 7.5 g
Polyunsaturated fat 1.5 g
Monounsaturated fat 5.5 g
Cholesterol 27.8 mg
Total carbohydrate 46.5 g
Dietary fiber 9.9 g
Sugars 19.5 g
Protein 10.9 g
Sodium 1,765 mg
Potassium 531.5 mg

Can a baked potato be the heart of a meal? When it’s topped with healthy, protein-packed chili sauce, we say yes!

Serves 4 to 8


  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can (16-ounce) kidney chili beans, drained
  • 1 can (14.5-ounce) diced tomatoes, drained
  • salt and black pepper
  • sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Scrub and dry the potatoes. Use a paring knife to remove any eyes or bruised spots. Prick each potato once or twice with a fork.
  3. When the oven is preheated, position the potatoes on a baking tray or wire rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the potatoes until they’re soft (about 45 to 60 minutes).
  4. While the potatoes are baking, heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, onion, and green pepper. Cook until the meat is browned (about 4 minutes), stirring frequently.
  5. Add the garlic, cumin, chili beans, and diced tomatoes to the turkey mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the saucepan and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  6. Season the chili sauce to taste, adding salt and black pepper if needed.
  7. When the potatoes are done baking, cut each potato in half. Spoon the chili sauce over the potatoes. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.

Nutrition per 1/8 recipe (½ potato with about 2/3 cup sauce)

Calories 218
Total fat 5.7 g
Saturated fat 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 33 mg
Total carbohydrate 25 g
Dietary fiber 5.1 g
Sugars 4.6 g
Protein 18.4 g
Sodium 434 mg
Potassium 621 mg

Start adding beans to your weeknight meals and you may soon find that you’re craving more. The good news is that there’s no shortage of simple and tasty bean dishes to choose from. Keep the delicious dinners going with these flavorful ideas.

  • Sriracha shrimp tacos: Shrimp cooks quickly, making it a convenient choice for busy weeknights. It also pairs well with beans, including black beans in this taco recipe.
  • Vegan chili: This flavorful chili has a spicy kick that will have you reaching for seconds. Plus, it’s an Instant Pot recipe, so cleaning up is a breeze.
  • Skillet orzo: Orzo looks like rice, but it’s actually a type of pasta. In this recipe, it’s combined with a Mediterranean medley of greens, chickpeas, and lemon juice for a light and tasty meal.
  • Mexican quinoa: We love quinoa because it contains more protein and fiber than brown rice — and it cooks in less than half the time. That makes it a great ingredient to reach for when you want to eat more whole grains, but you don’t have a lot of time. This one-pan recipe makes dinner a breeze.
  • Cajun Black Bean Soup: This recipe would make a welcome addition to any table. The fiber and protein in the black beans make this soup extra filling.
  • Sloppy Joes: This recipe provides all the classic flavors of sloppy joes, with less saturated fat and more fiber. It’s sure to please kids and grown-ups alike.