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)
- 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)
- 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.