If you find yourself asking this question every evening, you might find a little help from your pantry. It is a good idea to keep things on hand that make dinner quick and easy. Everyone has their own favorite spices, but by stocking up on just a few you should be able to make a meal out of almost anything.
A few of my personal favorites include salt, pepper, Seasoning Salt, Italian seasoning blend, parsley and sage. I prefer fresh produce, but I also keep on hand an assortment of dried onion, minced garlic and celery flakes. (The rule of thumb for substituting dried ingredients in a fresh recipe is 3 times fresh to dry.)
What happens if you realize are out of something important? This is when we improvise. Sometimes eliminating an ingredient could change the taste or texture slightly, but still leave the recipe passable for dinner. Other times, I check AllRecipes.com for ingredient substitutions. For example, a sugar water mixture can be substituted for corn syrup.
When I know I am out of a major ingredient, I use AllRecipes Ingredient Search feature. You can input the type of meats, vegetables or pasta you have on hand as well as the things you know you don’t have. My family has discovered some of our favorite recipes this way.
The key for all of it is, once again, to be prepared, but when things come up there are options available to you.