I think it's a good time to go back to basics. Fancy Pinterest recipes are great, but let's face it, it's not easy to find all of the ingredients you need these days. Grocery shelves are quite empty lately and many of us are trying to stock up on non-perishables instead of taking a weekly shopping trip. So now what should you make?
I'll walk you through the building blocks of 8 types of meals that you can cook with what's in your pantry or what's left at the grocery store. No specific recipes required. Don't be afraid to use frozen or canned ingredients.
1. Classic Dinner
We'll start off really easy here. A classic dinner is made of three components. Mix and match for a healthy, filling meal. If you don't know what to season with, sometimes just salt and pepper will do the trick. They can really bring out the natural flavors of the food.
Meat or other protein (ex. chicken, beef, pork, tofu)
Vegetables (ex. broccoli, asparagus, eggplant)
Starch (ex. roasted potatoes, rice, squash)
For a salad you truly only need leafy greens and dressing. The rest are extras to make if a full meal. I recommend using a large mixing bowl to make it in instead of a regular plate so that it's easier to evenly distribute the ingredients and coat with dressing.
Leafy Greens (ex. lettuce, arugula, spinach)
Veggies (ex. peppers, tomatoes, avocado)
Fruit (ex. apple, pear, mandarin orange)
Protein (ex. chicken, steak, tempeh)
Crunch (ex. seeds, croutons, tortilla strips)
Dressing (ex. ranch, vinaigrette)
Extras (ex. dried fruit, cheese)
3. Grain Bowls
Grain bowls are really simple to prepare and they make great leftovers or meal prep lunches. These are put together similar to salads, but the base is a grain instead. Enjoy hot or cold!
Grains (ex. quinoa, orzo, rice)
Veggies (ex. peppers, tomatoes, onions)
Fruit (ex. apple, pomegranate seeds)
Protein (ex. chicken, sausage, tofu)
Vinaigrette (ex. honey mustard, balsamic, raspberry)
Extras (ex. dried fruit, nuts, avocado)
Scramblers are a go-to for me because they're healthy, easy to make, and can be prepped ahead of time for really quick weekday breakfasts.
Eggs or egg whites
Veggies (ex. mushrooms, onion, spinach, peppers)
Protein (ex. bacon, sausage, ham)
Extras (ex. cheese, toast, potatoes)
For meal prep cook the veggies and proteins in advance and mix them all together. Refrigerate and then in the morning throw some of the mixture in a pan with eggs and you'll have a hearty breakfast in minutes!
I rarely eat pasta, but now is a good time to start since it's a shelf stable go-to. It's also got a lot of variety in the shape as well as what it's made from. There are noodles made from rice, whole wheat, edamame, and more! You could also use vegetable noodles if you want such as zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.
Pasta (ex. whole grain macaroni, zoodles, edamame angel hair)
Sauce (ex. marinara, vodka, alfredo)
Protein (chicken, shrimp, tofu)
Extras (cheese, veggies)
Soups are a great comfort food and they are probably the most versatile thing on this list. You can make a creamy base by adding half and half or coconut milk, a tomato base using canned tomatoes, and nearly any type of vegetable, protein, grain, or canned product can be added. As long as you have broth or bouillon cubes you can make a great soup!
Broth or bouillon cubes (ex. chicken, veggie, beef)
Veggies (ex. kale, tomatoes, celery, carrots)
Starch (ex. potatoes, beans, noodles)
Protein (ex. chicken, meatballs, sausage)
Seasonings (ex. bay leaves, rosemary, thyme)
7. Overnight Oats
This is an easy breakfast option and can easily be made vegan. It's nice to eat something besides eggs. On top of that, oats are cheap and shelf stable. Just mix all of the ingredients together at night, pop it in the fridge, and enjoy the next morning!
Oats (ex. rolled, old fashioned, steel cut)
Milk (ex. dairy, almond, coconut)
Fruit (ex. berries, peaches, apples)
Sweetener (ex. honey, stevia, agave)
Extras (ex. nut butter, cinnamon, chia seeds)
Smoothies are great for breakfast or dessert. They're a good way to pack in super foods, veggies, and protein. Just blend and enjoy!
Base (ex. milk of choice, coconut water, yogurt)
Fruit (ex. bananas, berries, peaches)
Greens (ex. spinach, cucumber, kale)
Protein (ex. whey, pea, soy)
Extras (ex. nut butter, chia seeds, cacao nibs)
I hope these basic recipe building blocks help inspire you to make something delicious with what you've got! Let me know what you made in the comments!
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