Despite all the best laid out plans, sometimes 5:00 pm rolls around and I have no ideas for dinner. I may not even have my usually fully stocked fridge, forcing me to rely on just a few staples. Here are my fallback dinner meal ideas for when you have no idea what to cook… plus all take 20 minutes or less and can usually be made with only the basics.
Cheesy, Veggie Quesadillas
Corn tortillas are a staple in our freezer, reserved for emergency nights or my kids’ crunchy cravings. Layer them with cheese and whatever vegetables you have around (cook the veggies first). Or, in a pinch for time, simply slice some tomatoes and layer them with fresh spinach and cheese. Pan fry your quesadillas with olive oil spray for the quickest bite.
Who says tacos are only for Tuesday nights? If you have hard shell corn tacos in your pantry then stuff them with whatever produce needs to be eaten. They’re always great with a mixture of shredded romaine, canned and spiced black beans (I like to fry them up with an onion, garlic, and some seasoning), canned tomatoes, chopped onions, minced garlic, taco seasoning, and a little dollop of guacamole.
Scrambled Eggs and Mushrooms
This dish is a bit breakfast-meets-dinner (for more ideas, check out my bestselling cookbook). Simply scramble up some eggs (make it a veggie-filled omelet if you have any must-eat vegetables in your fridge) and fry up onions and mushrooms in the same pan. Serve with some toast or a chopped Israeli salad.
Avocado Toast Topped With Hardboiled Egg
When you need a meal in minutes, it doesn’t get much simpler than popping some gluten-free bread into the toaster to create avocado toast! Add extra protein by topping with a hardboiled egg. I usually have them in my refrigerator for easy grab-and-go, but you can always fire up the stove to quickly boil a batch. If you can’t be bothered with peeling the shells, try these neat shell-less silicone hardboiled egg cookers!
Pancakes For Dinner!
Pasta With Sauce and Cheese
I always have gluten-free pasta and marinara sauce in the pantry. Plus, I keep mozzarella cheese in the freezer. If you have those three ingredients then you can throw a basic dinner together in minutes. Cook the pasta, stir in the sauce, top with cheese to melt, serve with some veggies, and bang — dinner in 15 minutes!
Fancy-ish Tuna Salad
As long as you have a can of tune in the pantry — and a few extra add-ins — then you can make your own tuna salad. Check out my recipe and serve on a bed of greens. Jazz the plate up with lightly steamed green beans, black olives, and a creamy mustard vinaigrette.
Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken Stir Fry
You can usually find a store-bought chicken at a grocery store somewhere near you … and for just a few dollars. Sure, you can simply slice and serve. But spice things up by cutting the chicken into chunks and using it to make my chicken and broccoli stir fry!
Lately, I’ve been keeping some haloumi cheese in the fridge — always check the expiration date but it lasts a while in the fridge. Lightly fry up the cheese and toss it with baby lettuce, avocado, nuts or chopped fruit and a light vinaigrette.
Which one will you try first?
So that’s all nine of my dinner meal ideas for when you have no idea what to cook. Which one will you try first? Feel free to head over to Instagram to share your creations with me.