Easy Dinner Recipes When You Have No Clue What to Make

There is no bigger frustration after a long day than standing in front of the fridge or pantry with no idea what to make to eat. You’re hungry, you want food and you have no ideas on what to cook. To give you a helping hand we’ve put together 10 way dinner recipes that you can make when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Plus, we’ve done our best to simplify the process so you can use what you have on hand if you don’t have all of the ingredients or know-how for the recipe itself. Simple is the name of the game, after all!

*Quick note: The recommendations in this post may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

How to always know what to cook for dinner

Before we jump into all the yummy recipe ideas, let’s take a minute to share a few ways you can shift how you shop in order to make sure you are never blind sided by dinner.

Have someone else plan meals for you

There is an amazing meal plan and grocery list we love called The $5 Meal Plan that was created by a busy mother of 4 and is designed to help simplify meals and shopping for other busy families. With the $5 Meal Plan you get meal plans for every week, plus grocery lists! Click here to get a 14 day FREE trial!

Pre-order your food

There is no rule that says that you have to spend hours at the grocery store hand-picking each food item in order to make healthy meals for yourself or for a family. How to simplify grocery shopping.

In fact, we’ve found that one great way to get healthy food on hand and stay on budget is to order your groceries online for pick up or delivery. This allows you to pre-plan your meals better so you aren’t left struggling to figure out what to make every night at dinner time. Plus, you can avoid that whole, “I spent how much!?” when you see your total because you can preview your total before you purchase! Click here to get $10 off and your first delivery free on Instacart!

Get 150+ Recipes for EVERY occasion!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Have a 15 minute backup plan

    If you are a big foodie who appreciates a well-crafted meal but doesn’t always have the time to make it happen, you can get home cooked meals with Gobble that are prepped for you and they only require 15 minutes of your time to prepare!

    Gobble lets you choose your meals, updates their recipes every week (so you always have variety) and you can click here to get 6 meals for only $36! (Not too shabby.)

    BLT Burrata Salad

    Have some leftover bacon, tomatoes and maybe some greens? Why not toss together a quick BLT style salad like this BLT Burrata Salad from Tangled with Taste! Such a good, quick way to use up some leftovers and still chow down on one of your favorites (minus all the carbs).

    Simplify it even more!

    While this recipe calls for ricotta cheese, there are also substitutes you can use if you don’t have any on hand!

    View full recipe at Tangled with Taste

    Enchilada Stuffed Butternut Squash

    You had me at enchilada! The Minimalist Baker never disappoints with unique, delicious and healthy meals. This is such a perfect combination of indulgent and healthy and is a perfect quick meal for the fall and winter months!

    Simplify it even more!

    Call me a slacker, but if you don’t happen to have the time (or ingredients on hand) for this amazing hand-made enchilada sauce, who says you can’t use a can of pre-made enchilada sauce? Oh, and, did you know you could swap out the butternut squash for a 5 minute sweet potato in the microwave?

    View full recipe at Minimalist Baker

    No-Cook Creamy Tomato Pasta

    So, this recipe from Gathering Dreams says “no cook” — but, to fill you in, you do have to boil the pasta. Maybe it’s the lazy in me, but I was kinda hoping I could snap my fingers and have cooked pasta on hand. That’s the dream, after all. Plus, if you happen to have a few tomatoes to use up, this quick-make sauce is the perfect place to use them up!

    Simplify it even more!

    Keeping a handy-dandy jar of pasta sauce on hand is always a sure-fire way to have a slacker-meal ready to go. This is also a great opportunity to use up any veggies you have. A quick chop and toss of some spinach or zucchini would be perfecto!

    View full recipe at Gathering Dreams

    (Leftover) Margherita Pizza

    Everyone loves pizza and while we all know just calling in an order can be crazy easy, it’s getting a little speedy these days. And, while we are always in support of adding a frozen pizza to your Instacart shopping list, let’s face it, there’s is something amazing about a fresh one, am I right?

    Some other random leftover pizza combos might include:

    • Chicken scraps and a cream cheese Alfredo sauce
    • Red onion, red sauce and sausage
    • Smoked salmon with gouda
    • Meat lovers with bacon and hamburger

    Simplify it even more!

    Instead of whipping together a crust from scratch and assuming you don’t just have one lying around, there are so many other alternatives to use for pizza crust. Like this pitta bread pizza, or this pull apart pizza bread.

    View full recipe at Cookie and Kate

    InstaPot Yellow Split Pea Soup

    Leave it to the InstaPot to help you put together some dinner when you’re in a pinch. This recipe from Minimalist Baker is perfect for a cozy day indoors when you don’t want to do a lot of prep work. Plus, there is no guilt with this recipe because it is loaded with veggies and fiber! If you haven’t gotten an InstaPot yet, they are on Amazon!

    Simplify it even more!

    I mean, being able to toss these ingredients into the InstaPot is a pretty amped up way to simplify, wouldn’t you say? However, there is always the option of having yummy boxed soups on hand to take all the guess work out of cooking and completely avoid the clean up. Our personal favorite is the Pacific Red Roasted Pepper Tomato Soup! (Yeah, it comes in a pack of 6 on Amazon. Trust us, it’s not over-kill.)

    Honey Garlic Chicken Bites

    Ok, who’s getting hungry? What better way to clear up some leftover chicken or turkey scraps than with a delectable meal like this one? Eat Well 101 has an entire section of their website dedicated to simple 30 minute dinners and this one definitely stands out! Yummy!

    Simplify it even more!

    Here us out, ok:

    • Rotisserie chicken
    • Bottled sauce
    • Intant rice

    If we’re talking fast and effective, I think it’s safe to say that’s a good way to go. Although, let’s be honest, a bottled sauce is never going to be as good as this…but it’ll get the job done.

    View the full recipe at Eat Well 101

    Pesto Pasta

    Pesto is a way easier meal to whip together than people realize and can usually be done in a NutriBullet for a low-fuss clean up. This Tuscan Kale Pesto Pasta from Gathering Dreams is especially genius if you’re not a big fan of those leafy green veggies. There is no more perfect way to sneak them into your diet than this! While your pasta is a cookin’ on the stove top, just toss the 6 ingredients into your NutriBullet and you’ll still have time to turn on your favorite show and relax. Grab a NutriBullet for only $50 on Amazon.

    Simplify it even more!

    They do have pesto you can easily scoop up in the store, but trust us, it’s way easy to make your own at home too. Like crazy easy.

    View full recipe on Gathering Dreams

    Lemon Butter Shrimp

    We love recipes that require only one pan. Nothing is better than an easy clean up after an amazingly yummy meal and Tangled with Taste nailed it. The shrimp only requires 3 minutes to cook and the prep takes just about as long! I don’t think we could simplify that if we tried…but let’s try anyway.

    Simplify it even more!

    This recipe calls for additional yummy ingredients like heavy whipping cream, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper to really bring out the flavors. However, if you’re in a pinch, no one is going to tell on you for opting to use some melted butter and lemon pepper seasoning. I mean, we won’t tell on you!

    View full recipe on Tangled with Taste

    Burrito Bowl

    There really is something magical about dumping a ton of delicious ingredients into one bowl and just going to town. This probably goes hand in hand with the leftover pizza as one of our favorite ways to clean house when you’re low on groceries and cares. While this mouth watering recipe from Cookie and Kate calls for an ahhmazing addition of cilantro hemp pesto (remember, we said pesto is easy), there are always a few ways to make it a bit easier.

    Simplify it even more!

    Here is a massive list of things you can easily toss together into a bowl to create a fabulous burrito bowl. PS having an electric chopper on hand can make this whole process so much quicker.

    • Tomato
    • Onion
    • Garlic
    • Cilantro
    • Lettuce
    • Black beans
    • Chicken scraps
    • Leftover beef or fish
    • Instant rice
    • Bottom-of-the-bag tortilla chips
    • Slaw
    View the full recipe on Cookie and Kate

    Breakfast Burrito

    I guess there is a burrito theme going here. So be it. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. For those of us who grew up loving breakfast for dinner, the breakfast burrito can take it to the next level. Let’s face it, taking the time to make pancakes isn’t always what we want to do at the end of a long day, but whipping together a burrito seems a lot more…ummm…rewarding? Plus, this one from Love and Lemons takes breakfast burritos to the next level!

    Simplify it even more!

    Ok, this is a tough one because look at that masterpiece. But, we get it…you’re not dying to cook dinner. Here’s the game plan:

    • Instant potatoes
    • Scramble up some eggs
    • Pop some bacon in the microwave (it’s not the classiest method, but hey, it works)
    • Slap on some cheese
    • Add veggies? I mean…
    View the full recipe on Love and Lemons

    Let’s recipe swap!

    Do you have any more favorite go-to recipes that you turn to when you’re not really feeling the whole cooking thing all that much? If so, drop them in the comments and spread the love for your favorite chefs!

    Pin this!

    What should I make for dinner? Everyone's least favorite struggle. We've put together 10 must-see dinner recipes -- and then simplified them!