Dinner Ideas for Those Stuck in a Rut

Germany, Duesseldorf, Girl sitting outside and eating noodles
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Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to making dinner? Keep eating the same meals over and over again? Add some new items to your menu with these recipe tips.

MAUREEN0763 Shares Her Family's Meal Rotation

"My meal rotation is about the same. What are some of your meals? Maybe we could switch!

Here are the few items that my child likes!

  • Chicken
  • Tossed Salad

Once summer is here she will eat:

  • Macaroni Salad
  • Hamburgers

GRETCHENJR Makes Tamale Pie Twice a Month

"My fave from when I was a kid and [my husband] loves it now:

Tamale Pie

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef (turkey or something else that's ground)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup cheese
  • salt to taste

Brown the meat and add the onion then the pepper. Fry a bit, then add the chili powder. Dump in the corn and the tomatoes and let cook.

Meanwhile, bring your chicken broth to boil in a separate pan and slowly add the corn meal as to not get it lumpy. Cook until thickened.

Then, get out a casserole dish, grease it. Take half of the corn meal goo and put it on the bottom. Then goes the meat mixture. Then top off with the rest of the corn meal mixture and cheese. Back for about half an hour in a 350 degree oven.

This also freezes well. We eat it about 2 times a month and often when people come over to watch "The Game"

IVY557 Shares Some Quick Southern Dinner Ideas

"How about...

  • Baked apples w/ cinnamon and butter
  • Meatloaf
  • Kraut & weenies (cut up hot dogs and fry in a little oil and add a can of sour kraut (drained)) I know it's not real healthy but what can I say, I'm from Georgia!
  • Teriyaki chicken kabobs w/ rice (put chicken chunks, orange slices, green bell pepper slices and pineapple chunks on skewer. Paint on teriyaki sauce. Bake in oven (or on grill) until chicken is done and pepper is no longer crunchy. Keep painting the sauce over the kabobs or they will dry out. Serve over rice.)"

    VALERIE9001 Shares Her Recipe for Tater Tot Casserole

    "Here's one that is quick and easy, as well as tasty.

    Tater Tot Casserole

    • 1 can French cut green beans
    • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 lb ground beef (or turkey or whatever)
    • 1 bag frozen mini tater tots

    Brown the ground beef in a pan, I usually add some salt and pepper to taste while the meat is cooking. Then add the soup and the beans to the meat, mix until well blended. Grease a 9x13 pan, then put down a layer of mini tater tots, still frozen. Spread the meat mixture on top of the tater tots, then pop in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes at 400 degrees F.

    I plan on making this one tonight, actually. Hope this works for you!"

    HEIDI533 Has a Quick Version of Tuna Casserole

    "Here's my version of tuna casserole. In fact, I made it last night.

    • 1 bag egg noodles (cooked and drained)
    • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
    • 1 can cream of chicken soup
    • 2 cans (6 oz each) canned tuna (I recommend you use the kind packed in water)
    • About 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 of a small bag of frozen green beans
    • Swiss cheese slices
    • pepper to taste

    Mix noodles, soups, tuna, cheddar cheese, beans and pepper together. Put in 9x13 baking dish. Top with the Swiss cheese slices and bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes (just until the Swiss starts to brown a little).

    I love this recipe. Using the cream of chicken soup keeps the tuna taste from being too strong."

    MARY_M Has a Dinner Idea for Busy Nights

    "My easy way out on busy nights (or just lazy nights) is to cook a package of frozen ravioli with an interesting filling (like butternut squash or Gorgonzola cheese or artichoke) and just top it with a small bit of good olive oil and good, fresh Parmesan cheese. Then serve with one of those ready-pack salads. Sometimes I even get fancy and make a salad of fresh mozzarella, basil, plum tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. But to make these things you have to have good quality ingredients."

    INKY456 Makes Plate Tacos and an Easy Roast

    "One of my family's favorite meals is what we call "Plate Tacos."

    Crumble up Doritos on a plate, Top with lettuce, ground beef or chicken breast strips seasoned with Lawry's Taco Seasoning (it's the best, I think), shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like. I do black olives and hubby does salsa and sour cream. My child hates the lettuce, but if I can sneak long enough without her seeing, I pulverize the heck out of it and mix it in with the meat so she doesn't notice....

    Also, any cheap cut of beef is great if you sear it in a skillet, put it in a roasting pan with veggies of your choice and top with an envelope of Lipton Onion Soup mix blended with a can or two of cream of mushroom soup and some water. Bake at 300 degrees F for 3 hours or so and it's the most tender, flavorful roast. And the gravy is already made!"

    HOMESCHOOLMU Has Plenty of Soup Ideas for Dinner

    "Here are some ideas that my daughter likes.

    • spaghetti with or without meat
    • bean or ground beef burritos with cheese
    • soft tacos
    • soups thickened with baby cereal - I make soup a lot...potato, split pea, chicken noodle, turkey rice, carrot-potato, lentil, bean, etc..
    • hamburgers - I just cut them up into bite-sized pieces at first
    • baked potato with cheese and veggie topping
    • beans and rice
    • chili with beans and meat (yes, she likes it even spicy)
    • curry on rice (again even spicy)
    • meatloaf with mash potatoes and carrots
    • shepherd's pie (layered ground meat with gravy, veggies and potatoes)

    Hope that helps."

    FIRSTMOM's Recipe for Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

    "I make this one dish that my son has always loved, and so does my husband, so it does double duty.

    • Cubed chicken (as much as you want, 3 or 4 cups)
    • 1 12 oz package of spaghetti
    • 1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
    • 1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
    • 1 can of diced tomatoes
    • 1/2 of one of the cans of milk
    • 1 cup (or so) shredded cheese

    Cook the chicken. Cook the spaghetti. Combined the soups, tomatoes, milk, and cheese in one pot over warm heat until melted together. Then in a casserole dish, combined all 3 together and put it the over at about 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 min. You can also sprinkle extra cheese on top.

    Hope this helps."

    KAY11081 Shares Her Meal Rotation

    "Goulash and American Chop Suey are huge in my house.

    Quiche very easy to make and very easy to eat.

    Big Meatballs (plain and porcupine). I also buy the frozen ones, which I pop in the microwave for quick meals with macaroni and cheese.

    Macaroni and cheese (both home made and boxed).

    Shepherd's pie

    Sauteed Chicken chunks (I cook them with a bit of water in the fry pan to keep them soft)

    Tortellini and Alfredo sauce

    Chicken pot pie (everything gets real stewed and mushy when you bake yum! yum!) There is an awesome, quick and easy recipe on the back of the Bisquick box - Reduce the amount of liquid in the batter because it seeps down through. Instead make the Bisquick into the consistency of muffins not the way they say to make it for the recipe."

    RUDEGIRL514 Invented Her Own Mexican Lasagna

    "I made up this recipe one day screwing around in the kitchen... This is my husband's all time favorite...

    Jenny's Mexican Lasagna:

    (I only specify brand names because I find it to turn out the best with these products: feel free to substitute :)

    • 1 lb. ground chuck (browned)
    • 1 cup Pace Thick 'n' Chunky Salsa (medium)
    • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
    • 1 pkg. French's taco seasoning mix
    • 1 (16 oz.) carton 2 percent small curd cottage cheese
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1 pkg. (8) Large Azteca flour tortillas
    • 2 cups(or more) Sergento's Mexican Blend cheese

    Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Drain the browned meat and add salsa, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, and oregano. Line bottom of lightly greased 9 x 13 pan with half the tortillas, overlapping edges. Top with half the meat mixture. Spoon on ALL the cottage cheese mixture. Layer remaining tortillas, overlapping as necessary. Spread with remaining meat mixture. Top with cheese and bake 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting (if you don't do this it won't set and will be runny). Garnish with sour cream and salsa if desired.


    Take the Poll: How many nights a week do you cook dinner at home?

    ZETODD Has Some Unique Dinner Ideas and Names to Match

    "Tired of Spaghetti?

    Try the many Faces of Pasta - mix and match Farfalle, twisties, bow ties macaroni, Ro-tel -- dump the slower cooking stuff in a minute or two ahead of the faster cooking varieties, put it in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, some Romano Cheese, toss in some parsley --- pan fry a smooshed clove of garlic and you've got something different that only cost a total of $1.54 if the kids don't like it and it's neither cheesey or tomatoey.

    Tuna Cakes a la Old Bay - Make the Old Bay crab cake recipe on the can but substitute a can of solid white and can of chunk light. Rinse the tuna and put in a tablespoon of lemon juice along with the other seasonings. Goes nice with green beans.

    You Needa Eata Pita - Whole wheat pita bread, an assortment of fillers including luncheon meat, cheeses, PB&J works - I put out some hummus, which the kids like - There's a Pocket Pita Reuben which is Turkey / Ham / Corned beef with some Swiss cheese and a bit of Russian dressing heated in a microwave for 12-15 seconds.

    Fondue for You - The kids don't get to do the frying, but you can deep fry cut up bits of chicken / pork / vegetables and have five or six dipping sauces (use thick salad dressing, sour cream, ketchup, A1) Kid gets to make a palate on his plate and choose the dipping sauce. Cube up some veggies to dip as well.

    Fajitas - cook up a thin steak, chicken breast or pork chop, let it cool, julienne it, and put out fajitas, meat, shredded cheese, mild salsa, and some sour cream.

    The kids have making their own creation and have fun folding the fajita.

    Pancakes / Waffles / Omelettes - I like 'em other than for breakfast. You can shred some chicken, make up a quick white sauce, season to taste and serve over waffles. Cold silver dollar pancakes with strawberry jam are usually a hit.

    Cheese omelettes are good, too, provided you let them cool long enough. French toast is another option I do sometimes.

    Rice, Peas, Cheese - This mix became a favorite. Mix up rice, shredded cheese and peas and serve.

    Baked Beans and Homemade Bread - Weird, but okay from a nutritionist's perspective (I hope) - I say home made bread because you can cut thick slices. Open a can of baked beans, let it cook, (add some flavor to it - dark brown sugar or A1), slice up some bread and you've got a decent meal with minimal prep. Toss a salad to give it some balance."

    JULY24BRIDE Shares a Recipe for Shells with Chicken and Olive Sauce

    "I just have to share my new favorite recipe for Shells w/ chicken and olive sauce. It's very easy, and SOOOOOOO good. Even if you aren't a huge fan of olives. You can barely taste them.

    • 3/4 pound medium pasta shells
    • 2 Tbs olive oil
    • 1 lg. onion, chopped
    • 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 12 black olives (like Kalamata) pitted and chopped
    • 12 green olives pitted and chopped
    • 1 cup diced tomatoes
    • 3 Tbs. Chopped fresh basil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp. pepper
    • grated Parmesan cheese

    Cook shells until firm but tender. Save one cup of cooking water.

    Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over med.

    high heat. Add onion, cook stirring occasionally until softened. (about 2 minutes)

    Add chicken to the skillet, cook stirring occasionally until chicken loses it's raw look - about 2 minutes. Add black and green olives, tomatoes, and basil. Bring to boiling. Add reserved cup of cooking water, stirring to mix. Return to boiling, over med-high heat, stirring. Add salt and pepper.

    Toss shells w/ sauce in a large bowl until well coated. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese."

    JANDYGIRL Shares Her Recipe for Easy Tex-Mex Bake

    "Just made this last night. We loved it.

    • 8 oz. small Rotini uncooked pasta (approx half a package)
    • 1 lb ground turkey (or beef for red meat eaters)
    • 1 10oz pkg frozen corn, thawed, drained
    • 2/3 cup salsa (hot as you wanna be !)
    • 1 16oz container low fat cottage cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
    • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1 cup (2 oz) Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese divided

    Cook pasta according to package omitting salt, drain, rinse, set aside.

    Cook ground meat until no longer pink. Stir in corn and salsa. Remove from heat.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Combine cottage cheese, egg, cilantro, pepper, cumin, and 1/2 the shredded cheese in a bowl.

    Spray an 11 1/2 X 7 1/2 inch baking dish with non stick spray. Spoon half the meat mixture into the bottom of the dish, top with the pasta, spoon cottage cheese mixture over the pasta, then the other half of the meat, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

    Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until heated and bubbly.

    Yummy served with corn bread and salad!!!"

    If you still feel like you're out of ideas, visit some of these sites for family-oriented cooking:

    • Recipes with Five Ingredients or Less
    • Home Cooking Index of Recipes

    Take the Poll: How many nights a week do you cook dinner at home?