If you're anything like me, one of your New Year's resolutions might be to cook at home more often. And also if you're anything like me: You probably have your fair share of nights when you just don't feel like making dinner. Well, redditor u/Senior_catlady_42 asked, "What's your favorite 'desperation dinner'?" Here's some of what people said...so let these ideas inspire your next lazy meal.
1."I make my own version of egg drop soup. I heat up some chicken broth in a pot (I always keep some in the pantry or fridge), throw in some spaghetti or whatever noodles I have on hand, and crack a few eggs into the soup. It's very quick and comforting."
2."Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. My family likes the boxed tomato and red pepper soup from Trader Joe's. We always keep a carton on hand."
3."I heat up and mix together canned baked beans, sliced hot dogs, canned corn, and kidney beans. Top it all with shredded mozzarella, and voilà."
4."My go-to is breakfast for dinner. You don't even have to try to make it fancy. I scramble some eggs, fry bacon or sausage, slice a few tomatoes, and make some instant grits or canned biscuits. This meal allows me to easily feed four people for less than 10 bucks."
5."Taco pasta. Boil pasta (any shape), brown a pound of ground meat, and combine with a can of tomato sauce and a packet of taco seasoning. Dump it in a casserole dish, cover with cheese, and bake it until the cheese is melted and golden. It makes enough to feed a family of four and have leftovers."
6."Mine is Girl Scout stew, which calls for mostly nonperishable, canned ingredients. I use a can of beef-and-veggie soup, a can of tomato soup, a can of drained vegetables, 1 pound of browned ground beef, and some water. There's really no need to fancy it up with herbs. It's pretty good and satisfying in its simplicity."
7."Bang bang shrimp tacos. I always keep frozen shrimp and tortillas in my kitchen. To make the sauce, all you need is mayonnaise, Thai chili sauce, and sriracha. Toss the shrimp in cornstarch to fry (or skip this part), coat it in the bang bang sauce, and put it into tortillas."
8."Fish stick tacos. Cook the fish sticks according to the instructions, and pop them into tortillas with lettuce, tomatoes, and any of your favorite taco toppings, like mayo, guacamole, or ranch dressing."
9."I throw cauliflower florets into the air fryer for a few minutes and cook them until they begin to crisp up. Then I drizzle Buffalo sauce on top and dip them in ranch."
10."Naan pizzas are my go-to. They're soo good and easy. I introduced my husband to them, and we make them all the time. My favorite combination is to use Alfredo sauce instead of marinara — topped with leftover shredded chicken, spinach, cheese, and bacon bits if I have them. Pesto makes a great sauce too."
11."I make black bean soup from my pantry. All you need to make this comfort food is a box of chicken or veggie stock, canned corn, canned black beans, and a jar of salsa. Pour everything into a big pot and bring it to a boil for 10 minutes. Let it simmer for another 30 and then top it with tortillas, avocado, or whatever's in your kitchen."
12."No-cook burrito bowls. I throw leftover roasted vegetables over leftover rice and half a can of beans, then I top it with some salsa. When I'm feeling fancy, I'll add some avocado."
13."Fried eggs on fried rice is great. I'll use either a bag of frozen fried rice or leftover Chinese food."
14."A tuna melt on English muffins. I pretty much always have canned tuna, mayonnaise, and some sort of bread that I can toast under a layer of cheese."
15."I always keep cheese ravioli in my freezer. I cook them up and drain them, saving some water for the sauce. Then I stir-fry whatever veggies I have (fresh or frozen), and mix the pasta and veggies together with a little of the remaining pasta water to make a sauce."
16."We call this meal 'bread and point' in my house. I buy fresh bread, and then everyone tops their slice with whatever is in the fridge. A favorite of mine is sourdough topped with feta and sliced tomato."
17."My go-to is spaghetti aglio e olio. Just boil spaghetti, and in a pan heat up some good oil with some garlic and chili flakes and pepper. Then toss the pasta in the garlic and oil sauce and you're done."
18."My go-to is a Hungarian comfort food called túrós csusza. It is essentially noodles that are mixed with cottage cheese and sour cream and topped with fried bacon bits."
19."Toasted white bread topped with a thin layer of mayo, some thinly sliced tomato, and salt. Mmmmmm, nothing like it."
20."I make quick linguine with clam sauce in one pot, and it's so easy. Boil pasta and add spinach and a can of white clam sauce. Top it all with grated Parmesan cheese."
21."I crack an egg onto piping-hot rice and mix some soy sauce into it. The rice cooks the egg, and best of all? You don't even have to wash a pan."
22."Coconut beans! I got this idea from a New York Times recipe, but the original is fancier. I use two cans of black beans and one can of coconut milk. I heat them up on the stove and season with ginger, garlic, cumin, and whatever I've got. You can eat it on its own or serve with rice."
23."I put a big scoop of kimchi into a frying pan and warm it up for a few minutes. Then I make a little nest in the middle and crack an egg. Cover the pan until the egg is cooked to your desired doneness. It’s good served over toast with mayo or on top of leftover rice."
24."Mini chicken Parmesan. I take frozen chicken nuggets and microwave them, then add canned marinara sauce and cheese and microwave again. It feels fancy even though you made it in five minutes."
25."Cacio e pepe. It calls for only a few ingredients, which I always have on hand (pasta, cheese, black pepper), and I can whip it up in no time. I'll pair it with a salad and call it dinner."
26."I learned how to make 'lazy enchiladas' from TikTok. You get some frozen taquitos and bake them for 10 minutes at 400 degrees to crisp them up. Then add in canned enchilada sauce and top with cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve it with toppings of your choice, like shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. It's super easy."
27."Peanut noodles. Cook up some ramen noodles and mix together peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, and maybe some vinegar. Play around with the quantities of each until it tastes right (I never actually measure), and add some water until you like the consistency. Then mix in the noodles until coated. I top my bowl with peanuts and chili crisp, and if I have it on hand, I'll mix in some cooked chicken. It's filling, fast, good, and incredibly cheap."
28."In my most desperate moments, I always turn to tuna mac. All it requires is a box of mac 'n' cheese, a packet of tuna, and a bag of frozen peas. I boil the pasta and toss the peas in at the end when the pasta is almost done, drain it, add the cheese sauce, and then add the tuna. It's a one-pot hot dinner that includes a vegetable and a protein. Plus, my kids absolutely love it, and it's one of those nostalgic dishes for me. It works all around."
29."Pesto pasta. I always have pasta, some fresh or frozen pesto from the garden, and Parmesan cheese. Sometimes I’ll throw in leftover chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, or any miscellaneous ingredients I have in my kitchen."
30."Breakfast tacos, even for dinner. I make them with scrambled eggs, cheese and sausage, bacon, chorizo, or whatever I have on a tortilla, which I lightly toast over the flame of one of the burners on my stove. Oh, and salsa, of course."
31."Hamburger gravy. Brown a pound of ground beef, add a can of cream of mushroom soup, and thin it out to your liking with some milk or water. Then serve over instant mashed potatoes with plenty of salt and pepper. You can throw some peas on at the end if you're feeling ambitious."
What's a meal you make when you want something easy, but you didn't get around to grocery shopping or just don't feel like cooking? Inspire us in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.