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Just 51 Really Good And Simple Dinner Ideas When You're Not Sure What To Make

Cooking delicious meals doesn't have to be expensive.

Chances are these past few months you've cooking more than usual. That's why you'll love these smart, realistic, and creative recipes that prove cooking on a budget can actually be satisfying and delicious.

1. White Cheddar Mac and Cheese With Chicken and Broccoli

Budget Bytes / Via

These cheesy noodles are loaded with diced chicken and broccoli so think: mac 'n' cheese that's sophisticated enough for adults and comforting enough for kids alike.

Recipe: White Cheddar Mac and Cheese With Chicken and Broccoli



2. Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Kroll's Korner / Via

Besides for bell peppers, this vegetarian recipe comes together with mostly pantry items like quinoa, diced tomatoes, black beans, and canned corn.

Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

3. Caprese Balsamic Grilled Chicken

Closet Cooking / Via

All you really need are five ingredients to whip up this family-friendly chicken dinner: any kind of boneless, skinless chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

Recipe: Caprese Balsamic Grilled Chicken



4. Freezer-Friendly Beef Burritos

Dinner Then Dessert / Via

You can make these burritos ahead of time stuffed with carne asada, refried beans, and Mexican rice and store them in the freezer for lazy meals when you just don't feel like cooking.

Recipe: Freezer-Friendly Beef Burritos

5. Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Passion for Savings / Via

If you want to save even more cash and time, start with shredded rotisserie chicken or ground chicken to make this hearty chili.

Recipe: Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili



6. Creamy Pappardelle Al Limone

Family Style Food / Via

Introducing your new favorite pasta sauce, made with nothing more than egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, and fresh lemon.

Recipe: Creamy Pappardelle al Limone

7. Pizza Quesadilla

Little Dairy on the Prairie / Via

You don't even need pizza dough to whip up this comforting meal. Start with a flour tortilla and load it up with marinara sauce, cheese, pepperoni, or any of your favorite toppings.

Recipe: Pizza Quesadilla



8. Five-Ingredient Thai Green Curry

Pinch of Yum / Via

This recipe calls for tofu, broccoli, and sweet potato, but you can always swap in whatever protein and veggies you like best.

Recipe: Five-Ingredient Thai Green Curry

9. Lemon Parmesan Risotto With Peas

Sweet Tea and Thyme / Via

While this recipe tastes totally restaurant-quality, there's not much to it: arborio rice, frozen peas, and chicken broth form the base of this creamy risotto.

Recipe: Lemon Parmesan Risotto With Peas



10. Ground Beef Stroganoff Casserole

The Cozy Cook / Via

Traditional beef stroganoff is usually made with thinly-sliced steak, but this version calls for ground beef instead. Not only is it cheaper to make, but it requires less time to cook.

Recipe: Ground Beef Stroganoff Casserole

11. White Beans Skillet With Tomatoes and Garlic

The Cookie Rookie / Via

This rustic skillet dinner requires virtually no fresh ingredients. You can keep the main components (canned cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth) right in your pantry.

Recipe: White Beans Skillet With Tomatoes and Garlic



12. Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Noodles

Life Made Simple Bakes / Via

If you want to take this cozy dinner to the next level, top it with some store bought biscuit dough. the result is like a shortcut chicken pot pie.

Recipe: Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Noodles

13. Sausage and Creamy Cajun Orzo Skillet

Gal on a Mission / Via

Orzo, sliced sausage, bell pepper, heavy cream, and a handful of spices is all there is to this Cajun-inspired skillet.

Recipe: Sausage and Creamy Cajun Orzo Skillet



14. Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls

Budget Bytes / Via, Budget Byes / Via

Make a big batch of these burrito bowls and prep them for the week ahead. They'll come in handy whether you're cooking for a family or just need some easy, on-the-go lunches.

Recipe: Meal-Prep Burrito Bowls

15. Five-Ingredient Chicken Piccata

Cooking For Keeps / Via

It's hard to believe this sophisticated chicken calls for just five ingredients: butter, chicken breasts, dry white wine, lemon juice, and capers.

Recipe: Five-Ingredient Chicken Piccata



16. Simple Lentil Falafel

Pinch of Yum / Via

Cooked lentils are blended with fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, flour and lemon juice, shaped into patties, and then baked into crispy-on-the-outside-tender-on-the-inside falafel.

Recipe: Simple Lentil Falafel

17. Taco Pizza

Kitchen Gidget / Via

This easy, kid-friendly dish starts with crescent roll dough on the bottom, then it's loaded with ground beef, cheese, and any of your favorite taco toppings.

Recipe: Taco Pizza



18. Pasta e Ceci (Italian Chickpea Soup)

Pina Bresciani / Via

This Roman-inspired recipe is made with canned chickpeas, your favorite pasta, crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, and a bunch of diced veggies.

Recipe: Pasta e Ceci (Italian Chickpea Soup)

19. Easy Ground Pork Stir Fry

Frugal Nutrition / Via

Affordable, quick, and easy, this ground pork, veggie, and rice stir-fry is perfect for feeding a crowd. It also keeps for a few days in the fridge so you can make a big batch and savor the leftovers.

Recipe: Easy Ground Pork Stir Fry



20. 30-Minute Chana Masala

Simple Veganista / Via

This Indian-inspired chickpea dish is made with chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and onions in a fragrant broth flavored with lots of spices.

Recipe: 30-Minute Chana Masala

21. Creamy Beef and Shells

Damn Delicious / Via

It doesn't get much easier (or more comforting) than this cheesy pasta loaded with ground beef. You can always substitute the meat for your favorite plant-based alternative.

Recipe: Creamy Beef and Shells



22. Five-Ingredient Chicken Tortilla Soup

Dash of Sanity / Via

Geab some chicken broth, rotisserie chicken, canned diced tomatoes, ranch dressing, and canned fiesta corn mix to make this heart-warming chicken soup with a Mexican flare.

Recipe: Five-Ingredient Chicken Tortilla Soup

23. Instant Pot Pasta Primavera

Simply Recipes / Via

You can start with any vegetables (fresh or frozen) to make this plant-based pasta right in your Instant Pot.

Recipe: Instant Pot Pasta Primavera



24. Bacon, Broccoli, and Potato Frittata

Foodie Crush / Via

The best thing about a frittata is that there's no wrong time of day to eat it. Have it for breakfast and enjoy the leftovers for dinner.

Recipe: Bacon, Broccoli, and Potato Frittata

25. Sausage and Potato Roast With Arugula

Smitten Kitchen / Via

Calling for just five easy ingredients (plus olive oil and salt) this light and bright arugula salad with roasted sausage and potatoes will quickly become a new favorite weeknight dinner.

Recipe: Sausage and Potato Roast With Arugula



26. Tuna Pasta With Capers and Parsley

A Beautiful Plate / Via

While you can make this pasta with any tuna fish, try using high-quality tuna packed in olive oil for the most flavorful version.

Recipe: Tuna Pasta With Capers and Parsley

27. Easy Fried Rice

Healthy Nibbles and Bits / Via

If you want some more protein, go ahead and toss anything from shrimp to tofu on this quick fried rice.

Recipe: Easy Fried Rice



28. Creamy Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

Cupful of Kale / Via, Cupful Of Kale / Via

Made in a single pot with all vegetarian-friendly ingredients, this creamy curry will be an instant favorite. You can always add more veggies to bulk it up.

Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry

29. White Bean and Artichoke Basil Toasts

Pinch of Yum / Via

Have toast for dinner, but make it fancy with this mixture of artichoke hearts, spinach white beans, and basil mashed into a creamy and savory spread.

Recipe: White Bean and Artichoke Basil Toasts



30. Harvest Wild Rice Skillet

Pinch of Yum / Via

You can use whatever vegetables are in season to make this wild rice skillet. A tiny bit of milk plus creamy provolone cheese helps hold it all together.

Recipe: Harvest Wild Rice Skillet

31. Chicken Satay Rice Bowls

Our Happy Mess / Via

Start with skinless, boneless chicken (breasts or thighs) sliced into bite-sized pieces in order to speed up the cooking time. The chicken is coated in a sauce made with chile paste, tomato paste, and peanut butter, then it's served over rice for a complete and satisfying meal.

Recipe: Chicken Satay Rice Bowls



32. Vegan Three-Bean Chili

Simple Veganista / Via

The recipe calls for a mixture of kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans, but of course you can swap in whatever canned beans or grains that are already in your kitchen.

Recipe: Vegan Three-Bean Chili

33. Crispy Persian Rice With Spiced Golden Chickpeas

Half Baked Harvest / Via

Basmati rice is pan-fried until the bottom is coated with a crispy and buttery crust. Top it with spiced chickpeas and sautéed spinach for an easy dinner made from mostly pantry items.

Recipe: Crispy Persian Rice With Spiced Golden Chickpeas



34. Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs

Primavera Kitchen / Via

Never underestimate the power of skin-on chicken thighs, especially when they're cooked in olive oil, butter, and garlic, and pan-fried until perfectly crispy.

Recipe: Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs

35. The Ultimate Shakshuka

Don't Go Bacon My Heart / Via

Eggs for dinner? It's never a bad idea.

Recipe: The Ultimate Shakshuka



36. French Onion Beef Casserole

Life In The Lofthouse / Via

All you need for this ultimate comfort food are egg noodles, ground beef, a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, French onion dip, and fried onions.

Recipe: French Onion Beef Casserole

37. Cheesy Buffalo Cauliflower

Delicious Little Bites / Via

Imagine mac 'n' cheese meets buffalo nuggets meets roasted cauliflower. This creamy, spicy, cheesy dish has it all.

Recipe: Cheesy Buffalo Cauliflower



38. Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Eating Bird Food / Via

A true dump dinner, pour all the ingredients besides for the cheese into your slow cooker. Two hours later, dinner is ready.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa Casserole

39. Sesame Noodles

Recipe Tin Eats / Via

If you want to save time and effort, go ahead and pick up a jar of store-bought peanut or pad Thai sauce. Nobody needs to know, and the result is just as delicious.

Recipe: Sesame Noodles



40. Sheet Pan Black Bean Nachos

Budget Bytes / Via

These vegetarian-friendly nachos are made with canned black beans and any of your favorite Mexican-inspired toppings.

Recipe: Sheet Pan Black Bean Nachos

41. Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cooking Classy / Via

Ground beef, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and a head of cabage forms the bulk of this one-skillet meal. Serve it over rice or egg noodles.

Recipe: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls



42. Pulled Pork Sliders With Garlic Aioli

Stuck on Sweet / Via

Don't feel like cooking? Let your Crock Pot do the work. Pork shoulder is slow cooked until it's tender and falling off the bone. Shred the pork with forks and serve it on buns with a simple aioli made with mayo, garlic, and lemon.

Recipe: Pulled Pork Sliders With Garlic Aioli

43. Sweet and Spicy Glazed Chicken Thighs

Budget Bytes / Via

The majority of these ingredients can be found right in your spice drawer. A mixture of brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and paprika form the sweet-meets-spicy glaze for these flavor-packed chicken thighs.

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Glazed Chicken Thighs



44. Portobello and Poblano Fajitas

Cookie and Kate / Via

Don't let the ingredient list overwhelm you. All you really need to make these fajitas are portobello mushrooms, peppers, onion, and tortillas. Swap the avocado sauce for store-bought guacamole or diced avocado and you've got a delicious meal.

Recipe: Portobello and Poblano Fajitas

45. Vegetarian Bibimbap

Nourish Everyday / Via

Start with rice at the base topped with whatever veggies you have on hand. Just don't forget the fried egg and spicy Sriracha on top.

Recipe: Vegetarian Bibimbap



46. The Best Black Bean Burgers

Sally's Baking Addiction / Via

Burger night just got a whole lot more exciting.

Recipe: The Best Black Bean Burgers

47. Ground Orange Chicken

Dinner Then Dessert / Via

Save money but don't compromise on flavor with this budget-friendly take on a Chinese take-out favorite. Ground chicken is tossed in a sweet and savory sauce made of sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, white vinegar, and orange zest.

Recipe: Ground Orange Chicken



48. Spaghetti Carbonara

Spend With Pennies / Via

So decadent yet so incredibly simple, this bacon and Parmesan-packed Carbonara is a treat for your stomach and your wallet.

Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara

49. Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Yummy Mummy Kitchen / Via

Not only is this satisfying soup made from simple, affordable ingredients, but it requires virtually no active cooking at all. Just toss everything into your slow cooker and wait.

Recipe: Split Pea Soup



50. Milk-Braised Pork Chops With Mustard Sauce

White On Rice Couple / Via

Turn boneless pork chops into a fancy-tasting meal with the help of a few basic ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your kitchen. The creamy, tangy mustard sauce calls for Dijon, milk, and a handful of spices.

Recipe: Milk-Braised Pork Chops With Mustard Sauce

51. Chicken Parmesan Casserole

The Recipe Critic / Via

This fan-favorite casserole features breaded chicken breast, penne, marinara sauce, and a whole lot of mozzarella all baked to cheesy, melty perfection.

Recipe: Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Spring is here!

This season, we have tons of easy and delicious favorites to share.



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