It’s 5 p.m. and you’re tired and you have zero inspiration for dinner. You realize you should have planned something earlier in the day, but you didn’t and now your options feel limited and you are considering resorting to grabbing takeout.
If you’ve ever found yourself in this predicament, I’ve got you covered because I put together a comprehensive list of 60+ super simple meal ideas to make instead of getting takeout. This post was crowd-sourced by my Instagram followers.
You see, earlier this week, I asked my community a question one of my followers there posed: “Can you give me a list of super simple meal ideas for nights when I don’t feel like cooking and we’re sick of frozen pizza?”
With the help of my instagram community, here were the some of the ideas they shared (+ some of my own!):
Instant Pot Meals:
The Instant Pot is a fantastic tool to have in your kitchen for very last-minute meal ideas. Here are a few super easy options (these can also be made in a crockpot if you remember to start it in the morning or mid-day!)
- Frozen chicken breasts, salsa, and taco seasoning
- Barbecue sauce poured over chicken breasts
- A bottle of Italian dressing poured over chicken breasts
- Hawaiian Barbecue Sandwiches
Ground Beef Meals:
Tip: Keep browned ground beef in the freezer to make spaghetti, tacos, or taco salad.
- Sloppy Joe’s served on buns with fresh veggies or fruit and chips on the side.
- Cooked ground beef over Tostitos with shredded cheese baked in the oven = nachos
- 2 cups cooked rice with one pound ground beef or turkey, corn, and a can of Rotel tomatoes
- Brown ground beef, top with teriyaki (half brown sugar, half soy sauce) and serve over rice
- Tacos (We like to add canned beans to the meat.)
Breakfast For Dinner:
We LOVE Breakfast for Dinner and it’s a great, frugal option on busy nights!
- Waffles or pancakes (I like to buy boxes of pancake mix to have on hand to make batter up really quickly for last-minute meals!)
- Frozen waffles (Buy pre-made or make your own.)
- Cereal (yes, this can totally count as dinner!)
- Homemade Egg McMuffins: Toasted English Muffins, Fried egg, cheese, and/or bacon
- Scrambled eggs or fried eggs, toast, and fruit
- Oatmeal (Or Baked Oatmeal)
- French Toast, fruit, and bacon
- Egg & Cheese Bites
These can be made really quickly and there are so many options for filling ideas! You can also use these same options to make burritos (just roll up in a tortilla and heat them in the microwave if you’re really short on time!)
- Precooked chicken and cheese
- Beans, precooked chicken or ground beef, and cheese
- Refried beans and cheese
- Plain cheese (can add veggies or onions/peppers, etc. )
Simple sandwiches can also be a winner for last-minute dinners!
- Grilled cheese
- Pizza Bread: French Bread, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni
- Turkey and cheese
- Egg salad
- Tuna salad
- PB&J (variations: PB&honey on toasted bread or PB and sliced bananas)
- Open-faced ham and cheese: broil in the oven for a few minutes until melted.
- Meatball subs: Frozen meatballs with sauce on hot dog buns
- BLT sandwiches (for variety: use avocados in place of tomatoes)
Tip: You can make a big batch of PB&J sandwiches and freeze them to have for quick meals and snacks!
One of the suggestions many people gave were easy pre-made or almost-done-for-you meals you could buy at the grocery store. While this might feel a little bit like “cheating” and it might be more expensive than making it yourself, it would definitely be significantly less expensive than getting takeout! I try to always keep a few quick meals like this in the freezer to have on days when we need something for dinner and the day got away from me or I’m just uninspired to cook anything!
- Costco Frozen Orange Chicken with frozen veggies and instant rice
- Stouffer’s lasagna
- Kroger brand frozen fried rice
- Frozen burger patties and fries
- Costco Just Bare Chicken Nuggets
- Readymade Fajitas from Costco
- Hawaiian Rolls and Chicken Nuggets = easy sliders
- Potstickers and fried rice from Trader Joe’s
- Frozen stir-fry vegetables topped with shrimp
- Chicken tenders, frozen tater tots, and frozen veggies
- Bagged salad with rotisserie chicken shredded over it (Or, serve the chicken with salad on the side!)
- Sam’s chicken salad on crackers or toast
- Costco frozen lasagna or mini pot pies
- Aldi frozen skillet meals
- Canned soup
- Frozen popcorn chicken, instant mashed potatoes, and microwaved veggies
- Boxed Mac & Cheese (add cooked meat or veggies to beef it up!)
- Hot dogs or frozen corn dogs with fruit
- Frozen burritos: Put them in a baking dish and pour enchilada sauce over and sprinkle with cheese and bake
Tip: If you love Trader Joe’s, be sure to follow Trader Joe’s 5 Items or Less on Instagram for lots of quick and easy meal inspiration!
- Any kind of noodles with Alfredo sauce and broccoli
- Beefaroni: Mac & Cheese, tomato soup, and ground beef
- Frozen ravioli with pasta sauce from a jar poured over it
- Baked potatoes made in the microwave with steamed broccoli and pre-shredded cheese on top (or, you could do a Baked Potato Bar — just bake some potatoes in the microwave and set out whatever toppings you have on hand!)
- Corn Dog Muffins
- Snack-y dinners: Think charcuterie-board-type dinners using what you have on hand!
- Build Your Own Salad Bar
- Leftover Night
- Fend For Yourself Night (we do this once a week — everyone can make whatever they want for dinner: some have cereal, some have pancakes or a frozen pizza, some heat up leftovers, etc.)
What ideas would you add to this list?
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