8 Dinner Ideas for When You Don’t Know What to Make

8 Dinner Ideas for When You Don't Know What to Make


Whether you’re craving comfort food or something a little healthier, these 8 dinner ideas are great choices when you don’t know what to make. For example, how about beef stew? It’s warm and hearty on cold winter days, and it makes enough that you can eat it all week if necessary. Or how about shrimp stir-fry? It takes minutes to prepare and there are tons of different ingredients you can choose from depending on your mood and the ingredients in your pantry.

1) Take Out

Oh man, I don’t know what to make tonight, you groan. Why not let someone else do all of that work for you? Order out; there’s no shame in it! If it seems too indulgent, remember: While a couple hundred calories is nothing compared with how much exercise you’ll be burning later, a thousand or more extra calories per week means weight gain—not exactly ideal if your goal is a leaner body. I would say an indulgence such as takeout is fine once or twice a week, says Dr. Kristensen. Just be mindful of portions and ingredients. In other words, don’t clean your plate just because there’s extra food sitting in front of you.

2) Cheesy Pasta

If you’re looking for something quick and easy, then try out some cheesy pasta. All you need is a box of frozen or fresh cheese tortellini, a jar of marinara sauce and any vegetables you can find in your fridge—eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers are all great options. Saute them up with some onions and garlic, throw in your cheese tortellini and cover it with sauce until it starts to bubble. Serve it up with a salad or bread on the side if you’d like.

3) Broiled Salmon with Veggies

There’s no way around it: Fat makes food taste good. It’s not only flavorful, but also a key component of balanced, healthy diets. The only issue is that there are many different types of fat—and some are better than others when it comes to heart health and overall wellness. That said, salmon is an excellent source of good fats (those omega-3 fatty acids you’ve probably heard about) and is particularly rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. If you don’t like salmon, check out our other suggestions below—there are plenty of other fish options that provide those same benefits with fewer calories!

4) Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

Stir-fry is a great meal because it can be made using relatively inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients that come together in minutes. Here’s a super simple recipe for skillet chicken and broccoli stir fry. To make: Sauté 1⁄4 pound diced chicken breast in olive oil or sesame oil until browned. Add 1⁄2 cup of chopped broccoli and sauté until bright green. Add 1 teaspoon soy sauce and cover with a lid, cooking until broccoli is tender but still bright green (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, serve over rice if desired, garnish with scallions or cilantro.

5) Two Ingredient Banana Pancakes

A simple breakfast that doesn’t take long, perfect if you have a busy morning. If you don’t mind doing some mixing by hand and don’t have a mixer, then you will be able to whip these up super fast. They are actually really filling and can double as a lunch if needed. Plus they are all natural so you won’t have to worry about adding too much sugar or other unnecessary ingredients.

6) Baked Chicken Nuggets with Avocado Dip

Baked chicken nuggets with avocado dip is a quick and healthy recipe, yet yummy enough that your kids will gobble it up in no time. Place four skinless, boneless chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and use a rolling pin or heavy pan to pound out chicken until it’s 1/4-inch thick. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Toss in marinade of equal parts lime juice, vegetable oil, honey and soy sauce (optional: chili powder) Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes; toss while warm with 1 cup each shredded carrot, red pepper and scallions.

7) Grilled Steak Kebabs with Asparagus

Grilled meat is a simple way to enjoy a healthy dinner. Because of its low-calorie content, you can splurge on flavorful extras like asparagus, avocado or guacamole. The secret’s in proper preparation: be sure your grill is clean before you cook and make sure your grill is hot enough so that food cooks quickly and doesn’t stick. The best bet? Marinate meat overnight or at least for several hours so it absorbs flavor well.

8) Breakfast For Dinner (BFD)

BFD is a fun dinner option. It’s also a healthy dinner option, especially if you make pancakes instead of waffles. With just eggs, milk, flour and oil as ingredients, pancakes are extremely low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein—and they’re delicious! If you can’t stand one more batch of bacon or sausage for breakfast, try making breakfast for dinner instead.

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