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25+ Random Dinner Ideas

If you’re anything like me, you find yourself looking for random dinner ideas, something the family will like and that’s easy to cook. Sometimes I stand in front of the fridge or pantry, perusing the options.

variety of meals for random dinner ideas

I always come up with something, but it’s frequently a challenge. In fact, it often feels like I’m playing recipe roulette with what I have on hand. But it usually all works out.

Some of our favorite meals are easy dinners that I’ve made from leftovers and pantry staples, like this delicious beef hash. Other times, I pull some random ingredients out of my freezer (because I forgot the night before) and toss them into my Instant Pot.

Even though I work from home, I have plenty of busy weeknights that would send me into a tailspin if I didn’t have options. However, these busy nights often transform into random recipes that have become some of our favorites.

Easy Dinner Ideas

Whether you’re making quick meals or using slow cooker recipes, I hope you’re able to get some new dinner ideas you and your family will enjoy.

Some of the dinners I cook turn out to be some of our favorite comfort food, while others are simply a delicious family meal at the end of a long day.

I’ve discovered several appliances that help with these times. Now I don’t know what I’d do without my Crock Pot, air fryer, and Instant Pot. 

I use all of them often because they enable me to spend quality time with my husband. And when the grandkids are here, I don’t have to stand in front of the stove for hours.

Simple Dinner Recipes with Chicken

One of the things I love about chicken is how versatile it is. You can cook it in any of the appliances that I use for convenience, and it works with a variety of sauces. 

Here are some of our favorite chicken dinners:

Chicken and Gravy – I make this chicken with creamy sauce in my slow cooker. Add it to mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles, and you have a comforting meal that everyone will enjoy.

random dinner idea - chicken and gravy over mashed potatoes

Chicken Pepper Pot – This is a complete meal that is bright, colorful, and packed with nutrients. It’s an easy weeknight meal that makes dinner time feel special.

chicken pepper pot in a slow cooker

Italian Chicken Zucchini Casserole – When you’re looking for healthy recipes that are packed with flavor, this is a good one. You can use ready-made Italian sauce or start with tomato sauce and add your own seasonings.

Italian chicken zucchini casserole

Chicken and Rice Casserole – The best part about this classic recipe is that you can start with raw chicken, use leftover chicken from a different dinner, or take advantage of that rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs – This cooks very quickly, but you still have time to make a salad or steam some vegetables. You can add potatoes or pasta if you want, but you don’t have to. It’s a very easy dinner when you’re pressed for time.

crispy air fryer chicken thighs

Oven-Fried Chicken Strips – This chicken is wonderful if you love fried chicken but either can’t have or don’t want the traditional flour coating. Serve this with some French fries and a side of creamy coleslaw.

Favorite Recipes with Beef

I serve some sort of meat 4 or 5 times per week. Most of the time, I stock up when it goes on sale—especially when I want steak or roast.

Ground beef is another one of my favorite ingredients to keep in the freezer because, like chicken, it’s so versatile. And if you’re on a budget, it helps that a little bit goes a long way.

Here are a few of our favorite meals made with beef:

Beef and Bean Enchilada Casserole – This south-of-the-border dish is delicious yet super easy to make. Next time you crave the Tex Mex flavors, give it a try.

beef and bean enchilada on a plate next to a casserole dish

Garlic Tomato Roast Beef – I make this in my Crock Pot, but you can also bake it in the oven or make it on the stovetop. You can slice it or shred it, depending on how you plan to serve it.

Stir Fry Beef and Broccoli – You can’t get any easier than this delicious Asian-inspired meal. Serve it over rice or have it all by itself.

stir fry beef and broccoli is one random dinner idea

Beef Shop-the-Pantry Casserole – This delicious dish will taste different every time you cook it because it is exactly what the name implies. You start with ground beef and add whatever you can find in your pantry, using a very loose formula that the recipe is based on. It’s a great way to save money and still give your family a hearty meal.

Skillet Sloppy Joes Pasta – Most kids love the flavors in this delightfully nostalgic dish. If you’ve ever had sloppy joes, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

another random dinner idea - skillet sloppy joes pasta

Hamburger Tater Tot Casserole – This is the perfect dish to serve when you’re feeding a lot of hungry people.

Easy Recipes with Pork and Ham

Both pork and ham are great options to keep on hand for delicious family meals. Remember that almost any chicken recipe works for pork. And ham is good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Here are some yummy pork and ham random dinner ideas:

Barbecue Pork Chops – Cook these in your Crock Pot, air fryer, or skillet. It doesn’t matter how you cook them because they always come out tasting great. Serve it with any vegetable or a salad, and you have a delicious meal.

Pork Chop Casserole with Tomato Gravy – This is one of the first dishes I learned how to make. It’s easy but tastes like something you’d get from a restaurant.

pork chop casserole with tomato gravy on a plate with steamed green beans

Pork Sausage and Rice Skillet Dinner – When you only have a little bit of time, but you need to feed the family something delicious, this is the meal for you. All of the flavors come together in the most delightful way.

Ham and Potato Casserole – Here is comfort food at it’s finest. You probably even have most of the ingredients on hand, so it’s super easy to make this random meal.

Cheesy Zucchini Ham Bake – This has turned out to be one of my most popular recipes. And there’s a good reason: It’s absolutely delicious!

cheesy zucchini ham bake in a pan

Sheet Pan Sausage and Vegetables – As the name implies, the entire dinner is cooked on a single sheet pan, making it one of the easiest dishes to clean up afterward. I typically use pork sausage, but you can use any type for this recipe.

Slow Cooker Beans and Ham – This recipe from Back to My Southern Roots is a delicious meal that’s easy to cook in your Crock Pot.

Smothered Potatoes and Sausage – Cook this entire meal in a single pan for a yummy payoff.

More Healthy Random Dinner Ideas

variety of meals for random dinner ideas

When a family sits down together at the dinner table, it makes them closer. So no matter what they eat (within reason, of course), the simple act of being together is good for them.

There are so many random but delicious dinners that you can make for your family and guests that it’s impossible to put all of them in this one post. But here are some of our favorites:

Classic Baked Mac and Cheese – You can serve this as the main dish or a side dish. Or it can be the whole meal. Macaroni and cheese is considered one of the most popular foods in the U.S.

pan of classic baked mac and cheese

3-Ingredient Ro-Tel Chili – There are as many ways to make chili as there are days in a year. And I’ve made quite a few of them. However, this is the fastest way I know about, and it’s just as good as any of the others.

Beef and Cabbage Soup – I realize that some folks consider soup a cold-weather food, but we enjoy it year-round. And why not? It’s comforting, delicious, and easy to make.

Pepperoni Pretzel Pizza Bites – Although we typically have this for an appetizer, you can also serve it as a meal. Simply add a side salad, and you’re good to go.

pepperoni pretzel pizza bites

French Toast Casserole – Who says French toast is just a breakfast food? Certainly not me. You can have it for any meal of the day. It’s pretty wonderful with a light drizzle of maple syrup … or even without!

serving of french toast casserole next to pan of the casserole

Baked Pecan Crusted Fish – Use whatever fish you have on hand, roll it in a wet mixture and then crushed pecans. Enjoy with your favorite sides!

Crock Pot Lasagna – Once I started making this yummy Italian dish in my slow cooker, there was no going back. It’s much easier and just as tasty.

Homemade Bean Soup – This is a thick soup that is super easy to make with canned beans. I like any kind of white bean for this particular recipe, but you can actually use any type of bean.

bowl of homemade bean soup

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