What to Make for Dinner When Your Fridge is Bare

Updated: May 05, 2024

You're pondering what to make for dinner. You open the refrigerator and...nothing! But a tasty dinner can emerge from an almost-empty kitchen.

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Chicken with Rosemary Butter Sauce

This elegant rosemary chicken requires minimal effort but will win you major compliments. You'll love the mellow sauce! —Connie McDowell, Greenwood, Delaware
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Special Pork Chops

I work nine hours a day, so I need delicious and simple recipes like this one. My husband thinks I work hard fixing meals, but this dish is good and easy. In summer, I can my own salsa and use some to top these chops. —LaDane Wilson, Alexander City, Alabama
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Quick Tater Tots Bake

I like to make this Tater Tot casserole when time before supper is short. If we have unexpected company, I just double the ingredients and use a 13x9-in. pan. I call it my Please Stay Casserole! —Jean Ferguson, Elverta, California
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Pan Burritos

Our family loves Mexican food, so this flavorful, satisfying casserole is a favorite. It’s nice to be able to get the taste of burritos and cut any serving size you want. —Joyce Kent, Grand Rapids, Michigan
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Lasagna Rolls

My Italian lasagna roll-ups are not complicated; they require only basic ingredients to assemble. Prepared spaghetti sauce helps me save time and get dinner on the table sooner. —Mary Lee Thomas, Logansport, Indiana
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Fast Baked Fish

We always have a good supply of fresh fish, so I make fish recipes often. This recipe is my favorite because it is moist, tender and flavorful. —Judie Anglen, Riverton, Wyoming
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Easy Beef Pies

We make a lot of French dips and always have leftover roast beef. Here's how I put it to good use. For these pies, use any vegetables you like. They're extra awesome drenched in cheese sauce. —Jennie Weber, Palmer, Alaska
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Biscuit Turkey Bake

As a college student, I go for stick-to-your-ribs foods that are also easy on the budget. Here's one that fits the bill. I like to bake this casserole for friends' birthdays. —Stephanie Denning, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
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Easy Chicken Enchiladas

This chicken enchiladas recipe is so quick and easy, and I always receive a ton of compliments. It quickly becomes a favorite of friends whenever I share the recipe. Modify the spiciness with the intensity of the salsa and the green chiles to suit your taste. —Kristi Black, Harrison Township, Michigan
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Black Bean and Beef Tostadas

You only need a handful of ingredients to make one of our family’s favorites. It's also easy to double for company! —Susan Brown, Kansas City, Kansas
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One-Skillet Lasagna

This is hands-down one of the best skillet lasagna recipes our testing panel has ever tasted. And with classic flavors and cheesy layers, it’s definitely kid-friendly. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Easy Glazed Salmon

It takes only four ingredients and a few moments to make this delightful main dish. —Tara Ernspiker, Falling Waters, West Virginia
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Hot Dog Roll-Ups

Not only do my grandchildren love these cheese-filled hot dogs, they enjoy helping put the meal together, too. It's the perfect solution when you need a last-minute lunch. —Lyletta Searle, Morgan, Utah
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Red Pepper Chicken

Chicken breasts are treated to black beans, red peppers and juicy tomatoes in this Southwestern supper. We love it served with rice plumped up in chicken broth. —Piper Spiwak, Vienna, Virginia
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Fiesta Ravioli

I adapted this recipe to suit our taste for spicy food. The ravioli taste like mini enchiladas. I serve them with a Mexican-inspired salad and pineapple sherbet for dessert. —Debbie Purdue, Freeland, Michigan
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Beef in Onion Gravy

I double this super recipe to feed our family of four so I'm sure to have leftovers to send with my husband to work for lunch. His co-workers tell him he's lucky to have someone who fixes him such special meals. It's our secret that it's an easy slow cooker dinner! —Denise Albers, Freeburg, Illinois
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Sloppy Joe Pasta

Since I found this quick-to-fix recipe a few years ago, it's become a regular part of my menu plans. Everyone loves the combination of sloppy joe ingredients, shell pasta and cheddar cheese. —Lynne Leih, Idyllwild, California
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Breaded Ranch Chicken

A crunchy coating of cornflakes and Parmesan cheese adds delectable flavor to this zesty ranch chicken. The golden, crispy chicken is a mainstay dish I can always count on. —Launa Shoemaker, Landrum, South Carolina
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Dijon Pork Chops

A bread crumb coating is all you need to turn pork chops into a wow-worthy family dinner. Try the breading on chicken breasts too. —Chris Rentmeister, Ripon, Wisconsin
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Red Pepper & Parmesan Tilapia

My husband and I are always looking for light fish recipes because of their health benefits. This one's a hit with him, and we've served it at dinner parties too. It's become a staple! —Michelle Martin, Durham, North Carolina
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Southwest Tuna Noodle Bake

None of my co-workers had ever tried tuna noodle casserole, and since we live near the Mexican border, they challenged me to make a Southwest version. After trying the tasty results, everyone wanted the recipe! —Sandra Crane, Las Cruces, New Mexico
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Chicken Provolone

Chicken Provolone, though one of my simplest dishes, is one of my husband’s favorites. It is easy to prepare and looks fancy served on a dark plate with a garnish of fresh parsley or basil. Add some buttered noodles for an easy side dish. —Dawn Bryant, Thedford, Nebraska
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Beefy Tortellini Skillet

This tortellini dish is a one-skillet-wonder the family craves. From browning beef to cooking the pasta and melting the cheese, everything happens in one pan. You can add basil or chives for a touch of freshness. —Juli Meyers, Hinesville, Georgia
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Frito Pie

Frito pie is legendary in the Southwest for being spicy, salty and cheesy fabulous. Here’s my easy take on this crunchy classic. —Jan Moon, Alamogordo, New Mexico
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Smothered Burritos

My brother-in-law teased that I only knew five ground beef recipes. I proved him wrong with my inventive spicy burritos. —Kim Kenyon, Greenwood, Missouri
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Creamy Beef & Potatoes

One of my husband's favorite childhood memories was eating his Grandma Barney's Tater Tot Casserole. One day I prepared it using potatoes O'Brien instead. Now I always make it this way. — Heather Matthews, Keller, Texas
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Parmesan Fish Sticks

I wanted a healthier approach to fish sticks and developed a baked tilapia with a slightly peppery bite. My husband and sons love the crispy coating. —Candy Summerhill, Alexander, Arkansas
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Ham & Swiss Stromboli

This is an excellent dish to take to someone for dinner. It's also easy to change up the recipe with your favorite meats or cheeses. —Tricia Bibb, Hartselle, AL
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Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a dish of poached eggs with tomatoes, onion and cumin. I learned about it while traveling, and it's been my favorite way to eat eggs since. —Ezra Weeks, Calgary, Alberta
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The Ultimate Grilled Cheese

These gooey grilled cheese sandwiches taste great for lunch with sliced apples. And they're really fast to whip up, too. Here's how to make grilled cheese the right way. —Kathy Norris, Streator, Illinois
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Quick Chicken Piccata

Laced with lemon and simmered in white wine, this stovetop entree is super easy and elegant. Just add a side of veggies and bread to make it into a wonderful meal. —Cynthia Heil, Augusta, Georgia
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Penne with Tomatoes & White Beans

I learned how to make this dish from friends in Genoa, Italy, where they're known for creating tasty combinations of veggies, pasta and beans. You can sub feta cheese to give this a Greek twist. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
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Contest-Winning Broccoli Chicken Casserole

This delicious chicken and broccoli casserole recipe is a twist on chicken divan that came from an old boss. It’s quick, satisfying comfort food. —Jennifer Schlachter, Big Rock, Illinois
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Garlic Toast Pizzas

Between working full-time, going to school and raising three children, finding time-saving recipes that my family likes is one of my biggest challenges. These quick pizzas pack a huge amount of flavor. —Amy Grim, Chillicothe, Ohio
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My Mother's Mac and Cheese

I remember my mother sending me to the store for 15 cents worth of cheese. The butcher would cut off a slice from a gigantic wheel covered with a wax-coated cloth. Mother would then blend that cheese into this tasty dish. Today, the memory of her cooking is like food for my soul. —Phyllis Burkland, Portland, Oregon
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Ravioli Lasagna

When you taste this dish, you’ll think it’s a from-scratch recipe—but it starts with frozen ravioli! —Patricia Smith, Asheboro, North Carolina
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Mediterranean Chickpeas

Add this to your meatless Monday lineup. It's great with feta cheese on top. —Elaine Ober, Brookline, Massachusetts
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No-Fuss Chicken

This recipe could hardly be simpler to prepare. The chicken gets a wonderful tangy taste, and no one will know you used convenient ingredients like a bottle of salad dressing and onion soup mix...unless you tell them. —Marilyn Dick, Centralia, Missouri
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Basil Pork Chops

These tender, glazed chops get a kick from basil, chili powder and a little brown sugar. Serve with your favorite roasted veggies and you've got a super comforting meal bursting with flavor. —Lisa Gilliland, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Stuffed Pasta Shells

These savory shells never fail to make a big impression, even though the recipe is very easy. One or two of these shells makes a great individual serving at a potluck, so a single batch goes a long way. —Jena Coffey, St. Louis, Missouri
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Cheese Ravioli with Veggies

When pasta and veggies are on the menu, my sons get to the table fast. The frozen medley is so convenient, but sometimes I throw in peas, corn, broccoli or zucchini instead. —Amy Burns, Charleston, Illinois
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Spaghetti with Bacon

As children, we always requested this dish for our birthday dinners. Our mother got the recipe from her grandmother. Now I pass on our tasty tradition. —Ruth Keogh, North St. Paul, Minnesota
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Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

My 3-year-old went through a chicken-nuggets-and-french-fries-only stage, so I made these golden nuggets for him. Even the grown-ups like them! —Amanda Livesay, Mobile, Alabama
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Au Gratin Sausage Skillet

Using frozen vegetables and a package of au gratin potatoes, I can get this satisfying stovetop supper on the table in no time. Even our oldest daughter, who can be a picky eater, loves it - and it is an excellent way of getting her to eat her vegetables. —Penny Greene, Lancaster, Ohio