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55 Tasty Dinner Ideas When There’s No Time to Cook

We know the feeling of constantly wondering what sounds good for dinner, especially if you have children. Add a spouse into the mix, and you’re left with multiple people who are all craving different dinner options.

Tasty Dinner IdeasIt’s even more difficult when you don’t have time to research, plan, shop, and make a delicious meal for yourself and your family.

So, what’s the workaround for the continuous wondering about what do I want for dinner?

Well, you can read through the below recipes for some quick options that will have you in and out of the kitchen in no time! We’ve gathered 55 yummy recipes that you can make, even if you have no time.

These recipes are split into different categories, making it even easier to choose the top one for you and your family. Are you ready to read through some mouthwatering options? Let’s get into it!

What’s For Dinner When Nothing Sounds Good?

Here’s one of the toughest questions to answer tied with the question, What should I eat for dinner?

There’s no one size fits all answer for this question, though a good general rule is thinking about what you don’t want and ruling that out first.

What Food Is Best For Dinner?

We like to think soup or pasta options are best for dinner, though we may be a bit biased!

These options are always tasty, loved by everyone, and quick to make. However, any of the below options are crowd-pleasers.

What Is the Most Popular Dish For Dinner?

You may be able to guess the answer to this one – it’s pizza! Of course, we’re looking to help you avoid those delivery fees and high sodium in restaurant food.

The below recipes will provide tasty options that are fast and just as good as the delivery.

Pasta Dinner Ideas

Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

1. Spaghetti Carbonara Recipe

Still wondering, what’s for dinner tonight? Why not a spaghetti classic like decadent spaghetti carbonara?

This dish includes a pinch of red pepper flakes, which you can swap for hot paprika if you prefer the taste.

Both ingredients provide a delicious hint of heat in the creamy spaghetti carbonara.

2. Cheeseburger Pasta

Here’s an easy one-pot pasta dish that you can have ready in no time! It’s filled with creamy cheese, ground beef, and pasta. Garlic powder is always a great flavor booster.

However, you can use fresh pressed garlic for a stronger taste. But, who doesn’t love garlic?

3. Creamy Broccoli Pasta (One Pot!)

It’s creamy, it’s buttery, it’s saucy, it’s rich! If anyone ever told you that you couldn’t have it all, they haven’t tried this pasta recipe yet.

The sauce calls for half and half. Though, you can easily add whipping cream for an even richer dish.

Tip: Save time by measuring all the ingredients beforehand.

4. Cheesy Sausage Pasta

This dish will knock your family’s socks off! It’s got a nice hint of heat from the polish sausage slices mixed into the pasta. Plus, it’s rich and gooey. Yum!

Try using a yellow onion instead of a white onion to help balance out the heat. Or, kick up the spice level with red onion.

5. Easy Garlic Parmesan Pasta

What do I want to eat? This is a question that’s often on my mind, especially when it’s nearly dinner time. Pasta is a personal favorite, especially pasta covered in cheese.

This recipe calls for rigatoni, though you can create a mac and cheese-like dish with elbow pasta. Or, pick your favorite type of noodles.

6. Garlic Butter Shrimp Pasta

Craving a dish that’s reminiscent of Red Lobster? We promise that making this garlic butter shrimp pasta is easier than it sounds! Plus, it only takes about 20 minutes.

If you’re not a shrimp fan, you can swap in any seafood like lobster bits or crab pieces.

Tip: Don’t overcook the arugula, or it will wilt too much.

7. Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Here’s one of the fastest dishes to throw together that you can enjoy for special occasions. Your spouse will think you bought takeout from a high-end restaurant!

We think that nothing tastes better with shrimp than Old Bay seasoning. But, we know everyone has different taste preferences! Try adding a lemon pepper spice in for a citrusy kick.

8. 15-Minute Creamy Garlic Pasta

Just because you can whip this up in a few minutes doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty! This pasta recipe includes a cheesy homemade sauce, because why not?

Parmesan adds a decadent cheesy flavor. You can easily swap it out for mozzarella for a gooier consistency. Don’t be afraid to combine the two kinds of cheese!

9. Buffalo Chicken Pasta – One Pot!

Eating this dish is like enjoying pizza, pasta, and buffalo wings all in one. Yes, you can enjoy your favorite comfort food flavors without making each dish separate. This is a fun recipe that everyone in the family will love.

If you’re not a blue cheese fan, you can skip it and use ranch instead. You’ll still get the perfect flavor combination.

Soup Dinner Ideas

1. Easy Chicken Taco Soup

What’s more comforting than a giant bowl of chicken taco soup? It has a deliciously rich broth and yummy bites of black beans, corn, and chicken to fill you up.

The unexpected ingredient is the cream cheese that you’ll be adding into the mix for an extra decadent recipe! You can use whipping cream instead, though you’ll need to include less chicken broth.

2. Lasagna Soup

On nights when you’re hangry, and the only thing that’s running through your mind is what the f to make for dinner, try this comforting soup. It has real lasagna noodles in it, so you’ll feel like you’re enjoying standard lasagna without the prep time.

According to the recipe, you can even sneak spinach leaves into this soup. If your family is a fan of kale, use that instead.

3. Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup

You’ll want to jot down this fall soup for when the leaves start changing colors! Earthy mushrooms combine with sweet potatoes, kale, and other tasty veggies for the perfect seasonal soup.

If you want to liven up this soup, you can use butternut squash or pumpkin pieces instead of the sweet potato bites.

Tip: Make sure to cube and peel your sweet potato, squash, or pumpkin before adding it to the soup.

4. Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup

Want a southwestern-style chicken tortilla soup that’s cheesy, spicy, and oh-so-delicious? You’ve come to the right spot!

With a base of salsa con queso, there’s no way you won’t fall in love with this recipe after one bite.

Swap it out for standard queso if you want less of a bite and more of a cheesy flavor.

5. The BEST Taco Soup Recipe

It’s hard to argue with a title like that! One peek at the amount of cheese listed in the ingredients, and you’ll quickly agree that this is one tasty dish.

Expect this dish to be spicy, especially with the inclusion of jalapeños. Swap them out for bell peppers for a milder taste.

6. Cowboy Stew

Imagine if jambalaya was made with a southwestern flair; that’s exactly what cowboy stew is! It’s got kielbasa, ground beef, baked beans, you name it. You could call it everything but the kitchen sink stew, but cowboy stew has a better ring.

Instead of russet potatoes, try using sweet potatoes for a yummy flavor that meshes well with the other ingredients.

7. Creamy Chicken Soup with Pasta and Spinach

All you need is 30 minutes for this hearty, healthy soup. It’s super flavorful, as it incorporates a lot of cheese like many recipes.

The true star of the show is the chicken bites added to the soup. Save time by using rotisserie chicken; you’ll thank us later!

8. Meatball Soup

Forget making chicken minestrone; this meatball soup is the tastier Italian version of the classic soup. It’s hearty with a delicious beef broth and includes bowtie pasta and plenty of veggies.

This soup calls for fresh, trimmed green beans. But, we love using frozen as you can skip the prep time. Use an equal amount, and you’re set.

Asian Recipe Ideas

1. 10 Minute Peanut Sauce Rice Noodles

Did you ever think you could find dinner recipes that you can make in 10-minutes? We promise, there’s no hidden prep on this one. It’s even vegetarian-friendly!

Lemon juice helps cut the richness of the peanut butter sauce. Use lime juice instead if you don’t have any lemons.

Tip: Ensure your dinner guests don’t have nut allergies before creating this one.

2. Crazy Good Beef and Broccoli

Yes, you can even whip up your family’s favorite takeout meals in only a few minutes! Here’s one of our personal favorites.

Perfectly saucy beef and broccoli is a great dish to help your week go a little smoother.

To make the sauce thicker, you’ll be using corn starch. Swap it out for flour instead if you prefer. Both options are flavorless, so no one will know the difference.

3. Zucchini Stir Fry with Chicken

Bored with your usual stir fry dish? Try rotating this zucchini and chicken version into your weekly meals for a fresh take. It’s healthy, tasty, and a great dinner dish.

This is one recipe that works well with different proteins. Use beef, fish, or tofu instead of chicken for an equally yummy flavor.

4. 15-Minute Sheet Pan Beef and Broccoli

Try this quick one-pan version if you’re craving beef and broccoli but don’t have time to stir it on the stove. Don’t worry; it’s just as tasty as what you can make on the stove.

Soy sauce is the main base for the sauce in this dish. If you need a gluten-free option, tamari will work similarly well in this recipe.

5. The BEST Yakisoba Ever

Yakisoba is tangy, saucy, and filled with noodles, vegetables, and delicious chunks of chicken. Skip scrounging up a random dinner and choose this restaurant-worthy recipe.

Green onions are always a great inclusion for Asian-inspired recipes. Though, chives from your garden will work just as well.

Tip: Add the noodles last so the remaining ingredients can cook properly.

6. Beef and Broccoli Lo Mein

Beef and broccoli with lo mein noodles?! Sign us up! We love crisping up lo mein noodles in a pan with oil for a few minutes before missing the other cooked ingredients.

If you’re really not a fan of broccoli, you can use carrots or even cauliflower as a stand-in. This yummy sauce pairs with any vegetables.

7. Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

These delicious lettuce wraps are a super healthy dinner option. Plus, the leftovers are perfect for school lunches. Make sure you leave the filling separate from the lettuce so you don’t have to power through soggy wraps.

Water chestnuts add a nice crunch to these yummy lettuce wraps. If you have bamboo shoots available, these are a great replacement.

Mexican Dinner Ideas

1. Taco Casserole

Check out this yummy Mexican-inspired casserole! If you combined tacos and sides into one masterpiece, it would be this dish.

You’ll be adding tortilla chips on top for an extra crunch and flavor. If you want to skip these yummy carbs, spice it up with some salsa. You can go all out and add some guac too.

2. Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers Recipe

Still need some meal ideas? Try this new take on stuffed bell peppers. They’re spicy, bright, fun, and flavorful.

Of course, you can’t have stuffed bell peppers without a cheese topping. Instead of using shredded Mexican cheese, try crumbling on cotija cheese for a more authentic flavor.

Tip: These are best served hot, especially with gooey cheese on top.

3. Quick + Easy Mexican Shrimp Skillet

We love skillet recipes over here! Anything that helps us skip a long and messy clean-up is a-okay by us. You’ll love this spicy, flavorful dish with a fast clean-up.

If you want to save more time, grab a packet of taco seasoning instead of measuring and mixing each spice separately. This way, you can have a few extra minutes to relax as the dish comes to life.

4. Mexican Street Corn Chicken

We have a soft spot for anything elote, don’t you? For those who haven’t had elote before, it’s Mexican street corn covered in crema, cheese, and chili powder.

Head to your local Mexican market and grab a jar of crema for this one. It creates a totally different experience than sour cream.

5. Lazy Enchiladas

Growing up, enchiladas were a favorite dinner dish. Now, you can spread that cheesy, spicy joy to your family members. This version is super simple, so you’ll want to make it every night.

Tortilla chips will act as the corn tortillas that usually come with enchiladas. Why not use Doritos as a replacement for an extra cheesy flavor boost?

6. Easy Layered Taco Bake

Think of this recipe as savory taco pie. Each layer is covered in seasoned beef, cheese, and dreamy salsa con queso. This is a fun option to serve at parties.

This taco bake uses flour tortillas in between each layer. If you’re looking for a healthier option, switch to low-carb tortillas or corn tortillas.

Tip: Make sure to drain the beef grease. Otherwise, the dish will be soggy.

7. Mexican Street Tacos

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a food truck deliver to your home? Well, this recipe comes pretty close to fulfilling that idea. These street tacos taste just like they were made in an authentic taco truck.

These tacos are crafted using skirt steak. However, you can swap that out for flank steak or flap steak to get a similar flavor.

8. Taco Bell Mexican Pizza Recipe

Enjoy this Taco Bell classic without getting stuck in a line of cars at the drive-through! This dish is nearly identical in flavor to what you can expect from TBell.

Here’s your chance to use up any extra enchilada sauce you may have from the lazy enchilada recipe! But, if you don’t have enough, try using taco sauce instead.

Seafood Dinner Ideas

1. Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa & Coconut Rice

Travel to the Caribbean with every bite of this grilled salmon topped with mango salsa and coconut rice. If you’re missing summer, this is the dish for you.

Adding avocado to the salsa helps create a delicious, creamy consistency. If you don’t like avocado, you can use sliced tomato to more acidity to the dish.

2. Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Crema

Looking for other taco options? Then, look no further! These tasty shrimp tacos have a spicy bite that’s cooled by the rich avocado crema.

Greek yogurt helps add a thick consistency to the avocado crema. You can use sour cream or regular crema as a replacement.

Tip: Skip the cheese on these tacos and let the shrimp speak for itself.

3. Creamy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

We’re taking it back to pasta recipes for this one, and we don’t regret it one bit! With a homemade cheesy alfredo sauce, it will be challenging for anyone to turn this meal down. Though, who would want to?!

Dried basil is one of the ingredients in the tasty sauce; use fresh basil for a more potent flavor.

4. Honey Garlic Butter Shrimp & Broccoli

Have you ever thought to add honey to your shrimp recipes before? It will be your new favorite way of packing on a sweet, delicious flavor. We promise!

For pan-frying, you’ll be using olive oil to keep the food from sticking. For a nuttier flavor, replace it with sesame oil.

5. Honey Garlic Glazed Salmon

We admit that creating homemade glazed salmon is pretty intimidating. Let this recipe take away your glazed salmon cooking fears and replace them with one of the tastiest meals ever!

Sriracha is a great way to add sweet heat to the dish. If you want a slightly more savory flavor, use chili paste.

6. Garlic Butter Baked Salmon

Have you ever had a recipe with a garlic butter sauce that didn’t taste amazing?! This dish is one of the top dinner meals.

The sweet herby sauce really complements the salmon and broccoli.

If your family members aren’t huge fans of broccoli, you can use chopped carrots instead. See? Garlic butter sauce goes with everything!

7. Baked Cod

This is not your average baked cod! It’s crusted with a yummy bread crumb layer that adds crispiness to the outside. Soggy cod is a thing of the past.

To create the breadcrumb crust, you’ll be using stale breadcrumbs. Panko crumbs will add a nice crunch if you don’t have any breadcrumbs available.

8. Broiled Lobster Tails with Lemon Garlic Butter

We could not complete the seafood dish section without offering at least one lobster recipe. We think that this simple option is even better than you’ll find at a restaurant. But, you be the judge!

For some, parsley in the lemon garlic butter may taste too strong. Use chervil for a milder parsley-like flavor.

Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

1. Ramen Noodle Stir Fry

Creating vegetarian-friendly meals is easier than you might think and just as tasty! This dish takes 15 minutes to create and will be loved by even your non-vegetarian friends.

Bok choy is a delicious Asian vegetable that you will be adding to the stir fry. You can also use napa cabbage for a different flavor.

2. Frito Taco Salad

If you have an obsession with taco salads like us, you’ll love this vegetarian version. The Frito chips spread throughout the salad offer an incredible crunch.

One of the main ingredients of this Frito taco salad is pinto beans. Use black beans if you prefer the flavor and texture.

Tip: Don’t add the Fritos too early, or they’ll get soggy.

3. Vegetarian White Chili

Warm-up with a delicious bowl of this white chili. It’s creamy, rich, and vegan. Yep, you read that right.

This recipe uses vegan cream cheese for that cheesy flavor. If you don’t mind using daily, regular cream cheese will work just as well. Both options provide a super tasty, unique chili.

4. Parmesan Spinach Mushroom Pasta Skillet

This parmesan spinach mushroom pasta skillet is packed with veggies and has an incredible cheesy flavor with a spicy kick.

This vegetarian recipe is so good that you won’t miss the meat at all.

Portobello mushrooms add a meaty texture to the recipe. If you prefer a lighter flavor, use white button mushrooms as a swap.

5. Lemon Pasta

If you haven’t tried the summery combo of lemon and pasta before, you’re missing out! The citrus brightens the dish and works well with the creamy parmesan sauce.

This recipe suggests using homemade vegan parmesan cheese. If you’re in a time crunch, you can most likely find a similar option at the store.

6. Easy Vegan Burrito Bowls Recipe

Is this Chipotle-lookalike as good as the restaurant version? It’s even better, and you can add as much guac as you want without the extra charge.

Cilantro lime quinoa is the base for this burrito bowl. However, you can make the base with cilantro lime rice instead.

Tip: Make this recipe vegan by using dairy alternatives.

7. Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Don’t think we forgot about you, enchilada lovers! Here’s a version that everyone can enjoy (even non-vegetarians!).

Seriously, you won’t have any leftovers anytime you bake this recipe.

Jalapeno sauce helps add some pep to this recipe. You can use a milder hot sauce or even forgo this sauce for a less-spicy dish.

Chicken Dinner Ideas

1. Creamy Garlic Chicken

Whenever we craft a meal that includes gravy, it’s always a good time! The addition of caramelized garlic is unexpected yet elevates this comfort food further.

If you want crispier chicken pieces, try using cornstarch to replace flour. There’s no flavor difference, so you can enjoy the meal as if no swap was made.

2. Cheesy Fajita Baked Chicken

Using fajita seasoning in this recipe is a real game-changer. You don’t have to measure out the spices. Plus, it tastes like fajitas at your local restaurant.

Chicken breasts are the star of this recipe. Though, you can opt for chicken tenderloins for a more budget-friendly approach.

The cuts are very similar, and tenderloins are pretty lean.

3. Smothered Chicken

We all know any recipe with the word smothered in it will be rich, delicious comfort food. Whether you’re having a bad day or just need a yummy dish, this option will make you want to lick the plate clean.

Part of what makes this recipe so yummy is the bacon that you’ll include. If you want to enjoy the dish with less fat, use turkey bacon as an equally delicious replacement.

4. Cheddar Ranch Chicken Thighs

Have you ever dipped a Dorito into ranch dressing before? If so, you’ll instantly recognize the flavor in this dish. It’s cheesy, delicious, and flavorful.

Adding cheddar cheese to the coating makes a huge difference. For those that don’t like the flavor of cheddar, Colby jack will work in a pinch.

5. Easy Sesame Chicken

All we can say is WOOHOO! We have been hunting for a quick homemade sesame chicken for ages, and this version tastes just like takeout.

If you don’t have any rice vinegar on hand for the sauce, you can use lime juice instead. It will be slightly tangier but still delicious.

6. Chicken Spaghetti

This dish is creamy, cheesy, and includes a homemade sauce. You can never go wrong with a homemade cheese sauce in our book!

This spaghetti includes diced tomatoes with green chiles. Those with a low spice tolerance may want to use plain diced tomatoes instead.

Tip: Use pre-cooked chicken for a quicker meal.

7. Creamy Mushroom Chicken

How does a moist piece of chicken covered in a rich, creamy, mushroom sauce sound? What if we told you it only takes 30 minutes to make?

This option is made even tastier by tangy Dijon mustard. For a slightly different flavor, try using spicy brown mustard. Spicy brown mustard will offer an even bolder flavor.

8. Juicy Stovetop Chicken Breast Recipe

If you thought you’d had the juiciest chicken ever, you have tried this dish yet! Each piece is incredibly tender, and it’s made right on your stovetop.

While the recipe calls for smoked paprika, you can use sweet paprika or spicy paprika to alter the flavor to your preference.

Tip: This recipe is best cooked in a skillet.

No, 55 recipes are not enough! Here’s a super quick option that takes no time but leaves you with a yummy homecooked meal. Below, you’ll find the directions for the Last Minute Chicken Dinner Recipe.

Tasty Dinner Ideas

55 Tasty Dinner Ideas When There’s No Time to Cook

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 4 potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • ½ c milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 c frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower combination
  • ½ tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp dried marjoram
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • ⅓ c grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Add oil to a large pan or skillet on medium-high heat and heat. Toss in the potatoes, stirring until they’re golden brown and crispy. Add the chicken, cooking until there’s no pink in the middle.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, add condensed soup, milk, onion, and garlic powder. Layer the vegetables on top and add the seasoning.
  3. Add a lid and simmer the ingredients for about five minutes until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are soft. The final step is taking the pan off the heat and mixing in the parmesan cheese.

Did you make this recipe?

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You can’t say we never gave you anything! This list of 55 recipes will keep you busy and help you skip
the constant question of what should I eat tonight?

This article has you covered whether you prefer poultry, pasta, or Asian cuisine.

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Saturday 17th of February 2024

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