10 Genius Ways to Hack a TV Dinner

Updated: Jan. 14, 2022

Make the most of your frozen meal with these clever ways to dress up a TV dinner.

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White plate of fresh homemade macaroni and cheese with broccoli and red pepper
Shutterstock / Josie Grant

Add Something Fresh

To give a frozen dinner that from-the-kitchen feel, top it with something fresh. We love adding steamed veggies to mac and cheese or garnishing a burrito bowl with pico de gallo and sliced avocado.

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Healthy Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap with Carrots;
Shutterstock / Brent Hofacker

Make Your Own Lettuce Wraps

You know those overpriced lettuce wraps in upscale Chinese restaurants? Make your own for way less! All you need is an Asian meal—such as sweet and sour chicken or orange chicken—and some large lettuce leaves. Top with bamboo shoots and crushed peanuts.

Here are 17 delicious ways to fill a lettuce wrap.

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Baked ravioli with ham and cheese in tomato sauce
Shutterstock / Elena Shashkina

Use the Baking Instructions

Frozen ravioli and ziti meals taste fine on their own, but with a little extra effort they can almost pass for homemade. Cook the frozen meal in the microwave for a minute or two less than the package instructions, then transfer to a casserole dish. Add shredded cheese, fresh veggies and any other desired add-ins, then bake until bubbly and brown.

Psst: Here’s how we make store-bought pasta sauce taste like it’s homemade.

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Chicken Quesadilla with Sour Cream and Salsa
Shutterstock / Frank L Junior

Amp up a Quesadilla

When filled with plain ol’ cheese, a quesadilla barely qualifies as a meal. Take your quesadilla to the next level by stuffing it with protein from a frozen dinner, such as fajita chicken. All you need to do is prepare the meal, cut it into bite-sized pieces, place it on a large tortilla and sprinkle with shredded cheese; top with a second tortilla and cook for a few minutes on each side. Voila! Dinner is served.

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Tacos - in mexican yellow corn tortilla with chicken
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Create an Effortless Taco Filling

Make taco night a snap by using a frozen rice and beans, chicken or fish entree as a taco filling. Simply make the meal and let it cool slightly, then divide between tortillas. Garnish with desired toppings.

Finish your meal with these amazing Mexican-inspired desserts.

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Shutterstock / CKP1001

Transform a Basic Potato

When you need a hearty dinner in 10 minutes (or less!), dress up a baked potato with a frozen dinner. Nuke the potato and the TV dinner in your microwave, cut open the potato, then scoop the dinner on top. This hack works well with Salisbury steak, beef stew or cheesy veggies.

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Pizza with chicken meat and vegetables
Shutterstock / Tatiana Volgutova

DIY a Gourmet Pizza

Craving a gourmet pizza but not the $20+ price tag? Whip up your own by topping a store-bought pizza crust or naan with a cooked frozen entrée—think mac and cheese or tikka masala. Top the ‘za with more cheese and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes.

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chicken and waffles with sweet tea in background
Shutterstock / Joshua Resnick

Pair with Another Freezer Favorite

For an easy meal, reach into the freezer not just once, but twice. Some TV dinners work well with other frozen favorites. A fried chicken meal, for example, pairs perfectly with toaster waffles.

Here are more ideas for those frozen waffles.

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Italian lasagna

Top It Off

Want to make that family-size frozen lasagna taste homemade? Sprinkle on some breadcrumbs and shredded cheese. Bake as directed, then garnish with fresh herbs.

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Chocolate pudding parfait mud pie with cookie crumbs and blueberry
Shutterstock / Elena Veselova

Improve Your Pudding Cup

Everyone loves dessert, but if we’re being honest, TV dinner pudding cups can be downright depressing. Mix it up by using the pudding cup to make a parfait. Just layer pudding, crushed cookies and fruit in a tall glass.

Get inspired with our top 10 parfait recipes.