Ridiculously Easy Last Minute Dinner Ideas for Time-Starved Cooks

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It’s 5 pm, and you realize you have nothing planned for dinner. Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered with 38 ridiculously easy last-minute dinner ideas that will save your night. These recipes are simple to make, and most can be made in under 30 minutes. So what are you waiting for? Get cooking!


  1. Instant Pot Chicken Pasta 

This chicken dish with parmesan will be your new weeknight favorite! This quick and tasty pasta dish with a simple homemade marinara sauce cooks in less than 30 minutes in your electric pressure cooker. 

  1. Chicken Skillet Pot Pie

Make this simple family recipe for a low price and a high taste. As a bonus, you can make it in just one pot! 

  1. Instant Pot Chicken & Potatoes 

Set and forget Instant Pot Chicken and Potatoes is a savory one pot chicken stew just like my Ukrainian grandma used to make! Break out your pressure cooker and make this mouthwatering dish tonight. 

  1. Chicken Zucchini Casserole 

Comfort meets healthy in Chicken Zucchini Casserole with layers of shredded chicken, zucchini noodle sheets and easy homemade sauce. Loaded with fiber, vegetables, and protein, this will be a weeknight dinner favorite. 

  1. White Chicken Chili 

White chicken chili is a great meal to stretch a rotisserie chicken to feed a crowd! It’s one of my favorite cheap and easy dinner ideas. 

  1. Tomato Chicken Pasta 

This Tomato Chicken Pasta has a super creamy tomato sauce with seasoned chicken, herbs, and Parmesan cheese! This is a gourmet-style meal that’s easy to make at home.

  1. Easy Chicken Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

This is a classic recipe that’s a perfect weeknight dinner! It’s cheesy, delicious, and so easy to make! It’s one of those feel good meals that you’re always looking forward to. Best of all, it’s a one pot meal and comes together in under an hour.

  1. Taco Air Fryer Chicken Wings 

Are you looking to make taco air fryer chicken wings? Here’s how to make them in minutes with only a few ingredients. Taco flavored wings make amazing easy cheap dinner ideas.

  1. Baked Chicken Tacos 

My entire family loves Taco Tuesday and today I’m going to share with you an easy Baked Chicken Tacos recipe that everyone loved and was simple to make too!

  1. Chicken Tortilla Casserole 

This flavorful Chicken Tortilla Casserole with Salsa Verde is a snap to put together thanks to rotisserie chicken and a few pantry staples. This quick and easy recipe is a great meal solution for a busy week!  

  1. Sheet Pan Chicken Tostadas 

Bake a sheet pan full of these mini chicken tostadas in about 30 minutes for an easy dinner or fun party snack. Crispy baked street taco tortillas are loaded with beans, chicken, cheese and your favorite toppings.  


  1. American Goulash

American Goulash is a cheap, easy, one-pot, classic comfort food made with ground beef, tomatoes, and macaroni noodles. Enjoy year-round, and delicious leftover, this irresistible cost-efficient Goulash Recipe is guaranteed to win over even the pickiest eaters! 

  1. Walking Tacos

Mix all your favorite taco toppings with crushed chips and you have yourself an easy but tasty walking taco! Perfect for parties or summer gatherings. These are such a fun easy cheap dinner idea.

  1. Easy Beef Enchiladas 

Easy Beef Enchiladas are a delicious dinner time favorite. Flavorful seasoned ground beef is combined with veggies and black beans, topped with salsa and finished with melty cheese. You’ll love these!

  1. Instant Pot Taco Pasta

This Instant Pot Taco Pasta is a Tex-Mex comfort meal at its best! Tender ground beef embedded in al dente pasta that’s covered in a creamy and super flavorful sauce from the garlic, meaty fats, onions, rich beef stock, salsa and various other seasonings. I mean, what more could you want?!

  1. Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada casserole is a great way to stretch a pound of ground beef. This easy cheap dinner idea will feed 6 for under $12. 

  1. Homemade Hamburger Helper 

20 Minute Homemade Hamburger Helper is a hearty and fast pasta dish that is perfect for those hectic weeknight dinners. This healthier take on the American classic boxed favorite has less sodium and preservatives than the traditional boxed version. 

  1. Stovetop Chili

This easy stovetop chili recipe is perfect for a quick and delicious meal. It has a rich, zesty flavor with just 3 ingredients (plus our secret ingredient!  

Sausage & Pork 

  1. Easy Skillet Lasagna 

This skillet lasagna is sure to become a new family favorite! It’s everything you love about lasagna, but made simple and easy for a quick weeknight dinner!

  1. Pepperoni Calzone 

This Quick and Easy Pepperoni Calzone recipe is loaded with cheese, pizza sauce, and pepperoni all folded into a convenient refrigerated pizza crust. Serve it with warm sauce on the side for dipping and see smiles all around the table!

  1. Crockpot Pulled Pork

Everyone has their own way of making their pulled bbq pork, but I love making mine in the crockpot! Put that baby on low, let it simmer, and 8 hours later you have this super amazing and delicious pork that’s ready to be placed on a bun and in your mouth.

  1. Gluten Free Pork Sandwich 

Gluten Free Pulled Pork is the perfect dish that can be eaten in so many ways on its own with a few sides or as a tasty sandwich.  Allergen Friendly Pulled Pork is an easy family slow cooker meal that is hands off while still being gluten, dairy and top 8 allergen free. It is versatile and budget friendly.

  1. Pizza Casserole

This easy pizza pasta casserole takes only minutes to make and is sure to be a hit with everyone in your family. A cheap and easy dinner idea the entire family will love. 

  1. Air Fryer Sausage 

Air Fryer Sausage is a quick, easy and effortless way of cooking your favorite sausages whether it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. With this cooking method, this meal is super crispy and nicely browned on the outside while it’s still juicy and delicious on the inside. 

  1. Crispy Pork Carnitas Street Tacos 

If you’re looking for a delicious and easy-to-make Mexican dish, look no further than carnitas street tacos! These street tacos are made with crispy slow cooker pork carnitas, topped with onions and cilantro, and they’re perfect for serving at parties or as a main course. Plus, they’re really easy to make – anyone can do it!

  1. Jambalaya Pasta 

Easy Jambalaya Pasta combines Andouille sausage, shrimp, peppers, celery, onions and garlic in a Cajun tomato sauce over pasta.  This mouthwatering dish comes together very quickly and easily.

Vegetarian & Vegan 

  1. Tomato Ramen Soup

What’s better than your two fav meals combined? Tomato soup and ramen noodles is my go to cheap and easy dinner especially if someone in my house is feeling under the weather.

  1. Baked Vegetable Pasta 

A great way to sneak hidden veggies in the kids’ dinner because they’re baked right on top. The noodles are soft and tasty, smothered in sauce. One of my favorite easy cheap dinner ideas.

  1. One Pot Pasta 

Easy 15-minute one-pot pasta made with very basic ingredients! This pasta recipe is perfect for busy people, or those of you who don’t like spending too much time in the kitchen, and the lazy cooks! It’s simple, frugal and delicious!

  1. Stuffed Shells 

Vegan Stuffed Shells make the perfect Italian comfort food! This easy-to-make stuffed shells recipe delivers big smiles and full bellies when served up for meals. It’s definitely a vegan baked pasta dish the whole family loves.

  1. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

A few simple changes to the classic creamy tomato basil soup comes out oh so tasty! You can’t go wrong with a cup of vegan tomato basil soup and some hearty bread for dipping.  An easy-to-make soup that’s perfect to make in a big batch for the whole week.

  1. Vegan Spinach Lasagna 

This vegan spinach lasagna is the ultimate family comfort food dish! We are so pleased with how our all plant-based version of tofu lasagna turned out. Get your baking dish ready and let’s get cooking!

  1. Vegan Pizza Rolls 

Making vegan pizza rolls makes pizza night even better! They’re so good, even your non-vegan friends will love them. Learn how to make an easy pizza dough, add all your favorite pizza toppings and roll them up.

  1. Vegetable Risotto 

This easy vegan risotto meal cooks up perfectly creamy and delicious! It’s loaded with lots of veggies for an easy dinner recipe everyone will love.

  1. Beans & Squash Burritos

Hearty butternut squash black bean burritos are loaded with veggies and flavor for a nourishing, flavorful, budget-friendly, 20-minute meat-free meal! Gluten-free optional, and freezer-friendly easy cheap dinner idea.

  1. Avocado Bean Tostadas 

These avocado refried bean tostadas are packed with veggies, super versatile, ready in under 20 minutes, and a delicious vegan appetizer, snack, or side!

  1. 4 Ingredient Potato Soup

This 4-ingredient potato soup comes together in 30 minutes or less, takes minimal effort, and requires almost no cooking experience! Each bite is rich, creamy, and ultra-smooth. It’s the perfect comfort food! 

  1. Fried Egg Spaghetti 

A few simple ingredients and you have garlicky noodles that’s packed with protein.  Fried Spaghetti with Eggs is an Italian classic that everyone loves.  

Quick Last Minute Dinner Ideas

So there you have it, ridiculously easy last-minute dinner ideas that will save your night. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal, an Italian classic, or something hearty and packed with protein, we’ve got you covered. So next time you’re feeling lazy or short on time, give one of these recipes a try! Bon appetit!

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