You’ve just gotten home from work. You’ve got a splitting headache. The kids are screaming. You glance inside the fridge for something fast and easy. Nothing. It’s the freezer next but nothing inspires you. What do you do when you want quick, easy meals? Be prepared with a well stocked pantry.
There’s nothing worse than realizing no matter how creative you are dinner isn’t going to fix itself from a box of cornflakes, a can of tuna fish, and grape jelly. The key to quick and easy recipes is having what you need in the pantry. You don’t have to have a huge storage facility or spend a fortune. A well stocked pantry has the basics of rice, pasta, nuts, frozen vegetables, flavored oils, and herbs. It goes without saying you’ll have onions, garlic, salt, and pepper on hand. And of course you’ll always have a few cheeses in the fridge. Add cans of beans, tomato sauce, tuna fish and your well stocked pantry will provide a variety of quick and easy dinners.
Every meal should have a protein, vegetable, carbohydrate and of course taste good. Boneless chicken breasts have a myriad of uses, cook quickly, and nearly everybody likes chicken. Boneless pork chops are fast and easy too. Buy several packages of both and portion them into your dinner size servings. For two of you, put two chicken breasts in one package, two pork chops, two fish fillets, etc.
Pasta and rice should take care of the carbohydrate part of the meal. Both require less work than potatoes and cook faster.
Add a few packages of frozen vegetables and you’ve got the start of a number of great tasting quick and easy meals. For example: Saute the chicken breasts in olive oil, add a few slivers of garlic and a chopped onion. Cover with two cups of water. Add a couple of cubes of chicken bouillon and a cup of rice. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. Add a cup or so, of frozen peas, a few squeezes of lemon juice, heat through and dinner is ready. No fuss, no muss and you’re good to go. Change the type of rice, the meat, and vegetables and you have several different meals. Pork with wild rice and apples is delicious.
Another alternative is pasta. Have a variety of pastas in your cabinet with a selection of dried herbs such as basil, oregano, tarragon and a few different kinds of nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and almonds. Keep several different oils in your cabinet like olive oil, almond, and walnut. Cheeses add the finishing touch and the protein. Cook the pasta about 10 minutes, add the frozen vegetable of your choice about 5 minutes before the pasta is done. Drain and return to the cooking pot over the hot, but turned off, stove top burner. Sprinkle the pasta with the dried herb and oil of your choice, mix well. Portion out on the serving plates. Top with a tablespoon or so of nuts and a 1/4 cup of grated cheese and once again your dinner is ready. Here are a few variations to try: parsley, walnuts, cheddar cheese, and walnut oil; tarragon, almonds, Swiss cheese, and almond oil; basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
Quick, easy recipes are quick and easy if you’re prepared with a well stocked pantry.
Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books and the novel “Over Time.” More quick, easy recipes Need grilling recipes?