It can be tough to get a tasty homemade dinner on the table, EVERYBODY’S busy and EVERYBODY’S hungry. Combine fresh ingredients with what you have in your well stocked pantry and you can get a delicious dinner on the table fast and easy.
I present to you 10 DELICIOUS things to cook when you don’t feel like cooking
First let’s start with your pantry, fridge and freezer – if you keep these well stocked you can cook with what you have get a delicious meal on the table in almost no time at all.
RICE, PASTA AND QUINOA are three great staples to keep in your pantry. Uncooked white rice can keep for years if stored properly (uncooked brown rice keeps for only a few months at room temperature) and cooked white rice keeps for 4-6 days in the fridge. I will usually make a double batch of rice in my rice cooker on the weekend, store the leftovers in the fridge and make fried rice later in the week.
Veggie and Egg Fried Rice Recipe
Dried pasta keeps in the pantry for a really long time as well, it can last for years if kept in an air tight container. I keep a few pounds in a variety on shapes in my pantry.
Spaghetti with Tuna and Caper Sauce
Quinoa is a grain that’s high in fiber and full of protein making it a winning choice for your pantry. Uncooked, it keeps for up to a year in an airtight container. After cooking it stores in the fridge for 3-5 days making it a perfect addition to lunch or dinner later in the week.
Above: Toasted Quinoa With Chiles and Corn – Health Magazine
Fresh vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions and peppers are great things to pick up on your weekly shopping trip. Stored properly, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes can stay fresh a very long time. I also like to pick up a large bags of spinach leaves and cut broccoli. While it’s cheaper to buy whole heads of broccoli and bunches of spinach I think the time I save is well worth it. I toss spinach leaves into tomato sauce at the end of cooking so that it just wilts. I also add it into the spaghetti with tuna sauce recipe above. Cook potatoes in the microwave and top with chili or the meat sauce from the spaghetti recipe below.
CANNED AND FROZEN, FRUITS AND VEGETABLES make dinner prep easy, just shop your own kitchen. For me, canned diced tomatoes are the real MVP of the kitchen. Make a quick pasta sauce, stir it into rice with sausage for a southern favorite or cook it with quinoa in the recipe above in place of chicken broth to make the recipe vegan (you may have to add a little water). Canned pineapple chunks in juice combined with fresh red peppers, vinegar and onions for a delicious sweet and sour relish in the chicken thighs recipe featured later in this post.
Fast Shrimp and Okra Simmer
Frozen corn is another staple I like to keep around. Frozen corn kernels are perfect for the Fast shrimp and okra simmer recipe pictured above. If okra is out of season frozen okra is a great substitute. Larger chunks of frozen corn cobs, some potatoes and sausage are great for a weeknight snow crab boil. This is as easy as boiling a pot of water LITERALLY!
Snow Crab Boil recipe
If you have a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and some other staples you can make this beautiful Veggie Tortellini Soup from The Pioneer Woman (pictured below, photo credit to The Pioneer Woman). It all goes together quick and easy for a hearty weeknight meal.
Frozen seafood like shrimp and the crab legs pictured above cook quickly and don’t need to be thawed first. Stir fresh or frozen shrimp into simmering shrimp and okra recipe mentioned earlier.
MEAT AND FISH that cook quickly are perfect for easy weeknight dinners. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs have a rich flavor and cook in just a few minutes. This recipe for Chicken Thighs and Pineapple Relish combines fresh peppers and onions with canned pineapple, soy sauce and vinegar for a sweet and sour glaze. Serve it over that extra rice you have in the fridge (remember, you made a double batch on the weekend). BTW the pineapple relish is great on fish too.
Chicken Thighs with Pineapple Relish
Salmon is really popular with my family so I pick up a side of salmon when I stop at my local big box warehouse store. The price per pound is significantly lower than the regular grocery store. I rub it with oil and spices and roast it in a hot oven or I coat it with sweet chili sauce before roasting. Wrap the salmon with some rice in fresh red leaf lettuce and top with shredded carrots. My kids loved this when they were little (and they still do) because they could “build” their own wraps and eat with their hands.
Broiled Salmon Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Chili Sauce
Ground turkey, beef or pork cook quickly and combined with pasta and canned tomatoes makes a delicious Spaghetti and meat sauce. A little minced onion and garlic add lots of flavor, stir in some fresh spinach leaves during the last few minutes of cooking and shave a little fresh Parmesan on top if you like. A thick and chunky homemade meat sauce is FANTASTIC on a baked potato or on top of toast with melted cheese.
Chunky Homemade Meat Sauce with Spinach
Bacon is another delicious, quick cooking protein (you knew I was going to include a bacon recipe, didn’t you). Make a dinner salad with bacon, fresh greens and roasted fruits and vegetables.
Bacon Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Caramelized Pear
Here are a few more things you need to keep handy to make some of these quick dinners happen. Soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, hot sauce and vinegar all last a long time in your pantry and fridge. These are things you can buy in bulk to keep the prices down. Butter and a variety of cheese (Parmesan and cheddar are my favorites) I even swirl a bit of butter into my meat sauce and OH MAN is it good. Olive and canola oils are staples in my pantry for sauteing, roasting, drizzling and making homemade vinaigrette. Salt. pepper, smoked paprika and dried oregano are a few of the spices in my spice drawer but they get the most use.
I think this collection of 10 DELICIOUS things to cook when you don’t feel like cooking will get you off to a good start. Stay tuned, I’ll post a “part 2” to this post so you’ll have even more delicious fast and easy recipes.