We’ve all been there: It’s the end of the month, and you’re running low on cash until payday next week. Or it’s 11 p.m., and all the delivery options are closed. Either way, you’re hungry—but your fridge and cupboards are pretty bare.
Don’t worry. Cooking shows and celebrity chefs may have taught us that more is better, but you really don’t need a lot of ingredients to make some truly tasty meals. Here are eight recipes you can whip up using everyday ingredients you probably have in your fridge or cupboard right now.
Throw together an all-American casserole. Cook the rice until it’s slightly under-done, then mix it together with a can of condensed soup (cream of chicken, cream of broccoli, cream of asparagus, cream of mushroom, cream of onion—it all works). Place the mixture in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. Top with cheese and bake until it melts.
Make Diet Coke Chicken. Brown the chicken in a frying pan, mix together the diet coke and ketchup, pour it on top of the chicken and continue cooking on high heat until the chicken’s cooked and the sauce has reduced. It may sound weird, but it tastes pretty close to a simple BBQ sauce. Bonus: Replace the diet coke with orange soda and you’ll never have to buy orange chicken at a restaurant again.
Make a mini pizza. Lightly toast the English muffins, smear a small spoonful of tomato paste on each and top with a cheese slice. Pop it into the microwave for one to two minutes until the cheese is melted—and presto! You’ll have your own individual pizza.
Make Shakshuka, a traditional Middle Eastern dish. Just mix together the tomato sauce, a few tablespoons of water to thin it out and red pepper, then bring it to a simmer in a frying pan. When it’s hot and bubbly, crack your eggs into the sauce. Cover and cook until the eggs are to your liking. (Level up with garlic, onion and any other spices you may have.)
Create the best breaded-chicken dish of your life. Crush the cornflakes until they’re the size and texture of breadcrumbs and coat your chicken breast in a thin layer of mayonnaise. Then dip the chicken into the crushed cereal. Bake at 350 degrees. (This recipe also works with crushed up Cap’n Crunch. Seriously.)
Try chicken paprikash, a traditional Hungarian dish. Saute the onion until translucent, brown the chicken and dump a tub of sour cream and a few heaping tablespoons of ground paprika into the pan. Mix well and simmer until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is slightly reduced. (Pro tip: If you’ve got elbow pasta or egg noodles, this pairs amazingly well.)
Get ready for a flavor explosion. Place the steak in a dish, prick all over with a fork, cover it with the Italian dressing and let it marinade for at least an hour. Then grill, fry or broil the steak to your desired doneness. Seriously good eats. (This works with chicken, pork, tofu and virtually any other protein you have.)
Stir up a pot of Sopa de Ajo, better known as Spanish garlic soup. Mince four to five cloves of garlic and saute in three tablespoons of olive oil. Chop your bread into one-inch cubes and add to the garlic, frying until it starts to brown. Add a few cups of chicken stock, bring to a gente simmer and cook until the bread softens. If you’ve got a few eggs, too, throw them in the broth for a traditional finish. (As always, a few spices—like paprika, black pepper, and some herbs, if you’ve got them on hand—can add a whole lot of flavor.)