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People frequently ask me, “How do you have time to cook dinner every night?”

My answer is simple.  By the time you could order take-out, or go through the drive through line, or heat up that frozen pizza, generally I could cook a simple, healthy dinner.  It doesn’t take training, or a huge amount of effort.  For me, it requires a small amount of planning, and knowing that I always have certain ingredients on hand that allow me to get dinner on the table in a minimal amount of time.

Here’s my list of ingredients that you will ALWAYS find in my kitchen.  For the nonperishable items, I stock up when they go on sale.

  • Chicken stock (low sodium)
  • Couscous (from the box to the plate in 10 minutes flat)
  • Pasta
  • Steel cut Irish oats
  • Canned diced tomatoes (no salt added – add fresh garlic, some salt, some spices, and you have a delicious pasta sauce)
  • Canned marinated artichoke hearts (easy to throw in pasta dishes)
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Canned beans (a mixed variety)
  • Popcorn (yes, I still eat it for dinner)
  • Homemade frozen soup (I make a big batch of soup and freeze in ziploc baggies)
  • Frozen spinach, frozen peas, frozen broccoli (plain – no added salt or sauce)
  • Frozen ginger (buy it fresh and store frozen in a ziploc baggie)
  • Sweet potatoes or regular potatoes (for baking or mashing)
  • Extra firm tofu
  • Garlic (fresh, never jarred)
  • Eggs
  • Blue cheese – definitely an acquired taste, but if you like it, it adds a ton of flavor and never goes bad
  • Non fat plain greek yogurt (I use this in place of sour cream)
  • Reduced fat cream cheese
  • Tortillas (stored in the freezer)

And that’s it.  With just those ingredients, you can cook a variety of meals in less than 20 minutes, start to finish.  Add in a few more fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the possibilities are endless.


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