A lot of men look at dinner as a chore, like doing laundry. But take it for what it really is: an opportunity to stoke your fat burners, awaken your senses, even feed your soul. Why settle for lack-luster takeout when you can cook one of 50 amazing meals in less time than it takes to have a pizza delivered? These dishes are protein powerhouses, fueled by everything from bacon to beans, so they're primed to beef up your metabolism. But don't read them as formal recipes. Think of them as road maps that can steer you in delicious directions. So take charge of the dinner hour—the best time of the day, if you work it right.
Note: Use 12 to 16 ounces of meat or fish in recipes that don't specify amounts.
1. Chicken Braised in Soy Sauce and Lemon
Sauté, Cheap eat, Intermediate
Brown bone-in chicken pieces in a few tablespoons olive oil. Remove them and stir in some chopped garlic. Add the minced zest of a lemon, a pinch of cayenne, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/3 cup water; stir. Add the chicken, cover, and simmer. Turn the pieces once; the dish will be done in about 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and more soy sauce to taste.
2. Grilled Chicken with Pesto Sauce
To make the pesto, puree 2 cups fresh basil, 1 garlic clove, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor. Season 1 pound chicken cutlets with salt and pepper. Grill them, turning once, about 8 minutes total. Paint with pesto and serve.
3. Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Spicy, Cheap eat, Intermediate
Cut boneless chicken thighs into 1 1/2" chunks. Shake on salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers and grill about 12 minutes. To make the sauce, combine the minced zest and juice of a lime, 1 tablespoon peanut oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, a pinch of cayenne, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, and 1 chopped onion.
4. Chicken with Citrus Sauce
Broil, Cheap eat, Intermediate
To make the sauce, warm the zest and juice of a lemon, plus the sections of another lemon, an orange, and a grapefruit, in a pan. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, a small minced onion, salt, and pepper. Rub boneless chicken with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Broil or grill. Serve with the citrus sauce.
5. Chicken Tikka with Yogurt Sauce
Cut boneless chicken into 1" chunks. Combine with 1/4 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup ground cashews, and a teaspoon each ground cardamom, ground coriander, minced ginger, and minced garlic. Remove from the marinade, and grill until it's brown and cooked through. To make the sauce, mix 1 cup yogurt with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Serve with the chicken.