If you’re anything like me, especially lately, you’re looking for quick and easy meals. I’m feeling kind of stingy about using too many groceries because I wonder if I’ll be able to get certain things at the store the next time. So, I’ve pulled together this list of 7 Ingredients or Less Main Dish Recipes as a simple reference to use.
There are some of my favorite recipes here, but I have also gathered up some really yummy sounding dishes from around the internet that I want to try. Each one uses a maximum of 7 ingredients, but still packs a lot of punch when it comes to taste. I’ve included possible ingredient substitutions too just in case you are missing an item here or there.
7 Ingredients or Less Main Dish Recipes
This is one of our family’s favorites! It has been served for well over 50 years and is definitely one that stands the test of time. It’s really easy to vary some of the ingredients and the number of ingredients. For the basic recipe, we have used ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or any combination), tomato sauce, water, chili powder, onion (or onion powder or my mom used to use French onion soup mix), and kidney beans. From there, we often add other seasonings and ingredients (like corn, other types of beans, etc), but it’s still good without those.
This is an easy meal to stretch too – serve it in a bowl or over cooked spaghetti noodles. It’s a fun way to top a baked potato as well! Bonus: It’s quite a nutritious recipe and can be made even more so by choosing lean ground chicken or turkey. Try using leftover chicken, beef, pork, or sausage instead of the ground meat.
Can leave out celery or substitute with celery salt. If you’re out of onions, add some onion powder. No tomato sauce? Use ketchup (cut back on the brown sugar then as it will be sweeter) or use equal parts tomato paste and water. You could also use canned tomatoes. You just need to be sure there’s enough liquid to cook the rice so you may need to add extra water. For a different flavor profile, use BBQ sauce instead of some or all of the tomato sauce.
Leave out the poppy seed dressing. You can use some poppy seeds instead or just leave them out entirely. We often make this without any cheese in it at all so that can be omitted as well. If you need to perk up the flavor because of leaving out some items, a bit of garlic or garlic powder is good. This is a good recipe for using up leftover chicken. It’s delicious with broccoli or spinach thrown in it too.
There are a variety of options for sauces – I often just use some lemon juice, a dash of butter or olive oil, and some black pepper. Try chopping up bits of leftover vegetables you have on hand and top the Gnudi with this and a little seasoning. Bacon, pancetta, leftover ham or chicken would all be great choices here too. Of course, you can always use a standard pasta sauce here too.
See suggestions for Gnudi. You can also make soup and use these in place of noodles or dumplings.
There’s a wide variety of seasonings, “fillers” (bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, cereal crumbs), and types of ground meat that can be used here.
Use regular potatoes or hash browns in place of sweet potatoes. Add a different vegetable instead of broccoli – spinach, kale, cauliflower, carrots, peas, or green beans are all good options.
Vary the toppings according to what you have on hand.
You can use just one kind of crumbs instead of two. You can add some rolled oats in place of the flax seed meal or simply omit. Use up leftover vegetables for the vegetable puree or omit – you might need an additional egg to ensure that you have enough “liquid” for binding the crumbs to the tofu. Use any kind of dipping sauce you’d like – ketchup or BBQ sauce are good options. Cut up potatoes and throw them in with the nuggets as oven fries if desired.
Try pork or chicken in place of the beef.
The main ingredients you need are the beef, onions, and peppers. You can easily adjust the seasoning to what you have on hand. Cilantro, avocado, and lime are all optional. Serve as is, over rice or noodles/pasta, in tortillas, or lettuce leaves.
You could easily use any type of squash in place of the pumpkin here. Try pancetta or leftover pork roast instead of chorizo.
Key ingredients are the chicken, rice, and cream of chicken soup. Substitute cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup in place of cream of chicken. Adjust seasonings as needed.
You can use regular premade or homemade pizza crust in place of the crescent rolls. Use any veggies you want/have on hand. Substitute ranch dressing mix for the dried vegetable soup mix. Not enough sour cream or mayo on hand? Round it out with some softened cream cheese.
You need the pasta, butter, flour, milk, pasta sauce, and shredded cheese. If the pasta sauce is already seasoned, you don’t need any additional seasonings – otherwise, those can be adjusted as needed. Any kind of cheese can be used as desired.
Such a great way to use up leftover ham! I could see this being delicious with leftover chicken, pork roast, or sausage too.
This filling is delicious as a stuffing in bell peppers too. You might want to add some seasoning in that case as obviously it won’t be as spicy as the poblanos.
Throw in some cooked ham, chicken, turkey or sausage for a complete main dish. Great way to use up leftovers.
Try pork or ground meat in place of the chicken. Add in some veggies like green beans, peas, carrots, or broccoli to boost nutrients.
You could vary your slaw recipe or use premade slaw instead. Also yummy with sauerkraut instead of slaw!
You can leave out the maple syrup and still have an amazing, delicious meal. No basil? Increase the Italian seasoning if desired.
So simple to make – you probably have everything you need on hand! In fact, it’s such an easy recipe, I’m not sure there are many substitutions that could be made.
You could make a full-sized frittata too instead of the mini ones. I love the mini ones because they’re perfect to put in the freezer and then simply grab and warm one up whenever you want! Frittatas are a great way to use up eggs (especially if you’re concerned about them going bad before you can use them – make the frittatas and freeze them to make use of them! You can also freeze eggs if needed. Here’s a post on foods you can freeze. ) They’re also a fantastic way to use up leftovers or produce that’s starting to get a little limp. No waste here!
Use a base of zucchini slices and then top with your preferred pizza toppings – another great way to use up leftovers!
It really doesn’t get much easier than this!
These can be made vegetarian by eliminating the meat and chopping up some leftover veggies to add to the rice.
A fun way to wrap your favorite pizza toppings up in a tortilla.
Add beans or corn to extend the ground meat and make it go further. Make them more filling by topping with coleslaw. Chop veggies up and add to the meat to boost the nutrient value or if you want them more “hidden”, puree and add to the sauce.
Try bacon, pancetta, leftover chicken or turkey in place of the chorizo. Green beans or spinach would make a great substitute for peas.
Use any flavor of potato chips you have on hand. You can also use pretzels in place of the chips. Throw some cubed potatoes (tossed in olive oil and a bit of salt if desired) in with the chicken fingers for an easy side dish.
Use sausages instead of hot dogs. Leave out the sesame seeds and cheese if desired/needed. Quick, easy idea the kids are going to love.
Possible additions/substitutions: celery, onion, dried cranberries, apple chunks, cucumber, cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds. Perfect way to use up leftover chicken.
So simple! Only 4 ingredients. Use syrup in place of the honey. Leave out the seasoning or adjust as desired – rosemary is lovely with chicken and believe it or not, so is vanilla!
Make vegetarian by eliminating meat and adding in chopped leftover veggies. Freezes beautifully.
This is my mom and grandmother’s recipe and it’s SO good. If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand for the dumplings or want a quick and easy substitution, use Bisquick. The directions are on the package. You can easily add veggies to the chicken to make it more of a stew – onions, carrots, peas, green beans, etc.
Make use of leftovers and scraps on hand to eliminate waste! This is a great recipe to throw together from what you already have. Cook on the stove or in your slow cooker.
Sounds like a strange combination but I promise you, it’s delicious! No rosemary? Try basil. No wine? Use alcohol free wine or chicken or vegetable broth instead.
Use shredded beef, pork, or turkey in place of the chicken. Leave out the chipotle if desired. You could add in a little spice with some taco seasoning, chili powder, or something similar.
Throw in some leftover meat if you’d like.
Take it to another level by stuffing the chicken with goat cheese or bread stuffing. Add cubed potatoes to the baking tray to make a quick side dish at the same time as the chicken cooks.
So easy to make and only a few ingredients needed! If you want a “one dish meal”, throw some shredded, diced, or julienned vegetables on top.
Your typical pizza toppings served up in a baked pasta dish. Swap out the pepperoni for ham, sausage, or other meat. You could easily leave out the peppers. Add in other ingredients like chopped tomatoes or mushrooms.
Simple and delicious! Try a different fruit in place of the pineapple.
This has a few more than 7 ingredients but you can adjust those (celery salt, onion powder for example) or eliminate some as needed.
Obviously, it will take more ingredients, but if you have no buffalo sauce on hand, you can make some. Here’s a buffalo sauce recipe. You could easily use a BBQ sauce that you have on hand too (it will, of course, it will be a different flavor profile then but this is still a great recipe to use).
If you can’t get the herb cream cheese, simply add some herbs and seasonings as desired. You can add in some chopped broccoli or spinach if you want to boost the nutrients in this.
No goat cheese? Try feta. A cream cheese (I’d use a flavored one like herb and garlic or add those flavors to it) would also work.
Try pork or chicken in place of the steak. My mom used to make “hamburger hash” similar to this too but using ground beef.
Use a different type of pork roast or pork chops instead. Ham is also good with this marinade. Change up the herbs as needed – thyme, rosemary, basil, and Italian seasoning are all good options for this.
Obviously, you’re going to need the chicken, honey, and mustard. You might think this recipe calls for Jack Daniel’s but it calls for Jack Daniel’s brand mustard. If you’re like me, you have never even heard of that mustard before.
Other types of mustard would work just fine here, but there are recipes available for making your own JD mustard at home. That being said, I might just try adding a tiny dash of whatever bourbon or whiskey I have on hand to this recipe and use the regular mustard and Dijon mustard I have available. I think rum would be delicious in this too!
The great thing about this recipe is that once you make and eat the pork tenderloin as is, you can then turn the leftovers into Cubano sandwiches. Note: the recipe included in the Cuban sandwich post is slightly different than the one linked above, giving you a couple different variations for this. The keys are an acid (some kind of citrus juice), garlic, and then other herbs and seasonings that can be varied according to what you have on hand.
Try other beans in place of the black beans. Add in some corn for more nutrients and bulk if needed.
This recipe, as is, has 8 ingredients but I’m including it because you can easily leave some out. (and it’s one of our favorite recipes!) It calls for both apples and applesauce but you can just use one or the other if you don’t have both. The bacon, while a scrumptious addition, isn’t 100% necessary. The apple and maple flavors are very tasty on their own. Toast some bread and cube it in place of the croutons.
This is an Irish dish usually served as a side, but it’s perfect as a main dish as well. Basically, it’s elevated mashed potatoes. It calls for bacon in it, but you can substitute some leftover ham, pork roast, or sausage there (which I think turns it even more into a one dish main).
Comfort food for sure!
Try another type of fish or chicken in place of the salmon.
My friend Randa over at The Bewitchin’ Kitchen has some great 5 ingredient or less chicken recipes you’re going to love. Be sure to check those out too! I’ve tried MANY of her recipes and they always end up being ones that are requested again and again.