How to Make Quick Dinner Recipes From Ingredients on Hand

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You want to make a quick and easy dinner tonight, but you're not sure if you have any ingredients that go together. Before you get overwhelmed by the thought of getting fast food again, try some of the easy steps below to make dinner out of any ingredient you have in the pantry or fridge.

  • Gather your most likely candidates for dinner. You might have cornbread, cheese and a can of beans, or maybe you have ground beef, fresh tomatoes and a loaf of bread. Just take a look around the kitchen and see which ingredients pop out as having potential to be in tonight's dinner. Just one or two can get you started and they don't have to initially seem like they'll match together either.

  • Look at the food label or food packaging. See if they have a recipe on the back. Let's say that you have four out of five of the main ingredients - for example: you have the soup, rice and cheese for Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole. Maybe you don't have skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but you do have canned chicken. Although not having all the ingredients of a recipe can change its overall quality, it doesn't mean you won't have a decent, homemade dinner.

  • If Step 2 didn't pan out, then try going to the website on the back of an ingredient like flour, condensed soups, cornbread or frozen vegetables (just to name a few). The food manufacturers want you to buy more of their ingredients, so they'll probably have a ton of recipes online. Type in your ingredients and see if anything comes up as a match or a close match. (No luck? Go to step 4.)

  • Go to recipe websites like RecipeLand.com or google, "recipe by ingredient". It's amazing what will come up when you type in a few of the ingredients you have on hand. Again, not having certain ingredients will usually just set you back a little bit in flavor or sometimes even help you accidentally find a more delicious way to make something. For example: after years of making a spinach artichoke dip recipe with mayo, we had to make it without once because we were out and found that the dip wasn't missing a thing. Sometimes you can get away with using water instead of milk or cornstarch instead of eggs. See resources below for substitution resources.

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