12 dinner recipe ideas for when you don’t know what to cook

Posted on May 25, 2021

There are days when you just don’t know what to cook. You have the ingredients in the fridge, but you just can’t seem to think of any recipes you can use them in. Well, here are a few delicious recipes that use common ingredients you will usually have on hand. Whether you follow a vegan, paleo, or allergy-specific diet, we’ve dug up the best dinner recipes from around the web.

Vegan dinner ideas

1. Flavorful Korean Gochujang Noodles

bowl of korean gochujang noodles

Gochujang is one of my all-time favorite flavors, so I always have it in my fridge. Often used to flavor meats like pork and chicken, there are also creative ways to use the addictive spicy-sweet-funky flavor of Gochujang in vegan dishes! This recipe advises that you double-check the ingredients in your Gochujang to make sure it doesn’t contain fish sauce if you want it to be a true vegan dinner.

Click here for the full recipe.

2. High-Protein Teriyaki Wild Rice Power Bowl

If you've had a long and active day, you can't beat this protein-packed wild rice bowl. Full of tofu, wild rice, and a coconut amino teriyaki sauce, this dish will make your body (and brain) feel great after a day of hiking, kayaking, or running around town. Ritisha uses red onion, broccoli, carrots, and snap peas in this recipe, but you can customize it based on whatever veggies you have on hand.

Click here for the full recipe.

3. Easy Pasta Salad

Cool pasta salad is a go-to for my family on hot summer days. Laura’s Easy Lemon Pasta Salad is packed with veggies like cucumbers, onion, and tomatoes, and is friendly to a wide variety of allergy diets including gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. The best part about this recipe is that you can mix and match any veggie toppings you want to make it just how each member of your family likes it!

Click here for the full recipe.

Chicken recipes for dinner

4. One Skillet Apple Cider Chicken

skillet filled with chicken thighs, veggies, and herbs

This recipe is perfect for fall: warm and hearty, and packed full of nutritious root vegetables. Best of all, it can be made in a single skillet, which means cleanup is super easy. Apples and chicken may seem like an odd combo, but we think it’s a creative way to infuse more comforting flavors of fall in a simple savory dish.

Click here for the full recipe.

5. One Pan Baked Chicken Drumsticks

There are so many varieties of baked chicken that you can have it every day without getting bored! This recipe uses pitted olives, fresh herbs, and citrus (lemon and orange) for a lively dish, perfect to serve alongside steaming rice or fresh bread.

Click here for the full recipe.

6. Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Whether you need a kid-friendly meal for a Tuesday-night dinner, or are cooking for a date night at home, there’s never a bad time to make pizza. This Buffalo Chicken Pizza is a little bit different than your standard tomato sauce-based pizza, combining two classic dishes into a single pie!

Click here for the full recipe.

Breakfast-for-dinner recipes

7. Easy Air Fryer Eggs, Bacon, and Toast

Photo of toast with egg and bacon with copyright airfryeryum.com

I am all about that air fryer life — you can make anything in an air fryer! This eggs/bacon/toast recipe is an all-in-one slam dunk, and it’s so easy to make. Because eggs and bacon are both high in fat and protein, it is satisfying and filling, even with only four ingredients. If you want to get real fancy and pack it with even more nutrients, you can top it with avocado or microgreens.

Click here for the full recipe.

8. Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito

Yeah, breakfast burritos make a good breakfast, but I like them even more for dinner. They are packed with protein from eggs and any meat you might normally add, and they are filling enough to eat by themselves if you don’t have time to make sides. This Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito recipe is a home-run because it’s filling and nutrition, not to mention cheap — each serving clocks in at around $1.35, depending on your local grocery prices.

Click here for the full recipe.

Dinner ideas from around the world

9. Shrimp Fried Rice

Fried rice is always a family favorite on takeout nights, so why not make it at home? This recipe uses both shrimp and Chinese sausage, which makes it hearty and flavorful. Eat it by itself, or as a side dish to your favorite homemade Chinese entrees.

Click here for the full recipe.

10. Nigerian Beef Stew

You might be surprised to find that you have almost every ingredient needed for this Nigerian Beef Stew recipe. In fact, the only ingredient you may not normally have in your fridge is habanero (or Scotch Bonnet) chili peppers. This stew combines both tomatoes and bell peppers, which gives it a perfectly balanced acidic-and-sweet flavor profile.

Click here for the full recipe.

11. Traditional Vietnamese Chicken Pho

This traditional pho recipe is amazing, and Becca shares the history of the dish as well. The broth uses roasted onion and ginger to enhance the complexity of the flavor, and is topped with cilantro and green onion for an undeniable freshness.

Click here for the full recipe.

12. Nigerian Noodles with Seafood

I’m not a huge fan of soup noodles, so I’m always excited to try new dry noodle dishes. This is another spectacularly simple dish using mostly ingredients you’ll already have on hand. Using a pre-cooked, frozen seafood mix, you can whip this dish out in only 10 minutes! Plus, it’s packed with veggies and protein, so it’s a well-balanced and nutritious meal.

Click here for the full recipe.

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