What should we make for dinner tonight? I have asked my husband this question at least 7,000 times in the 20 years we've been together. Sometimes 5 p.m. rolls around and neither of our brains has an answer. And I know I'm not alone in this—it's a timeless and universal conundrum for all humans.
So I wondered, could ChatGPT—the A.I. chatbot that’s been in the news lately for its ability to generate human-like responses after analyzing and summarizing the internet—have dinner suggestions? Maybe it’s just the phone-a-friend I need.
I asked ChatGPT, “What should we make for dinner tonight?”
“As an A.I. language model, I don't have information about what ingredients you have or your personal preferences,” it responded. (I am relieved the A.I. doesn’t know that I prefer Korean foods, and will sometimes have dessert for dinner.) Then it gave me seven ideas "based on popular options."
ChatGPT combed the internet, compiling data from websites, digital images, and social media after 2021, and aggregated human food preferences at large to generate a response. It cast a wide net by identifying dishes and tastes generally accepted as comfort foods in America, like spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese, stir-fry, tacos, and baked potatoes.
Below are the ideas ChatGPT has “in mind" for dinner tonight, plus a slew of delicious recipes developed by our very human recipe developers. As for me, I'll make the stir-fried broccoli over rice with kimchi.
Is ChatGPT the lifeline I need to cure my meal planning woes? For a family that eats mostly Korean food and broadly Asian flavors, maybe. Next time, I will give it narrower parameters and ask for those specifically.
1. Grilled Chicken or Fish With Sides
ChatGPT suggests grilled chicken or fish with a side of roasted vegetables and quinoa. It's mid-March and too cold to fire up the grill where I live, and indoor grilling triggers the fire alarm, so this is not a dinner option for me. If you live somewhere warmer, grill the vegetables—perhaps a simple romaine or broccolini with a lemony tahini dressing—instead of roasting them in the oven since the grill will already be on.
2. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs (with red sauce, of course) is the dinner idea I'm keeping in mind for later this week. I'll use Trader Joe's frozen meatballs and make an easy tomato sauce. ChatGPT also added "or a vegetarian option." Here are three vegetarian spaghetti recipes that sound delicious: pasta puttanesca, spaghetti with tomatoes and artichokes, and spaghetti with lemons, peas, and ricotta.
3. Stir-Fry Over Rice or Noodles
As a very broad and vague recommendation, ChatGPT responded with "stir-fry with your choice of protein, vegetables, and rice or noodles." Here are five of our most popular stir-fry recipes to inspire you:
- Broccoli Stir-Fry With Ginger and Sesame
- Pancit Bihon (Filipino Rice Noodles)
- Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry
- Pork Stir-Fry With Green Onion
- Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp
4. Stuffed Baked Potatoes
ChatGPT recommends "baked potatoes topped with cheese, sour cream, and vegetables" for dinner. There are four ways to cook baked potatoes—grilled, baked, air fried, and microwaved. Take your pick depending on how much time you have. It's fastest in the microwave and slowest on the grill. As for the toppings, there are endless options—here are 10 to start you off.
5. Tacos or Burritos
ChatGPT likes to fill its tacos or burritos with ground beef. What about taco night, with one of our favorite taco recipes listed below? Fill the table with all the fixings—ChatGPT suggests "lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and salsa"—and let your family build their own tacos.
6. Grilled Cheese
ChatGPT knows classic American comfort food, and recommends grilled cheese with tomato soup for dinner. It's affordable, easy to make, and universally loved by adults and kids alike—basically the perfect weeknight dinner. Fill your sandwich with Italian cold cuts, red peppers and arugula, or bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes for a BLT mash-up.
7. Veggie Burgers With Sweet Potato Fries
Veggie burgers are ChatGPT's one decidedly vegetarian dinner suggestion. Thank goodness the cardboard-like veggie burgers I grew up with are a thing of the past. Here are five juicy and delicious veggie burger recipes to try:
- Green Goddess Veggie Burgers
- Black Bean Smash Burgers
- Pesto White Bean Veggie Burgers
- Classic Veggie Burgers
- Portobello Mushroom Burgers
ChatGPT would serve veggie burgers with a side of sweet potato fries. Make your own or toss frozen store-bought ones into the air fryer until the edges get crispy.