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4 delicious dinners using ingredients you already have at home

By Carolyn Malcoun, April 19, 2010 - 12:25pm

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We all have our go-to recipes, those meals we make when we don’t have enough energy to think about dinner, yet still have the resolve not to order pizza or Chinese food. A few weeks ago, I blogged about 5 ingredients I make sure to buy when I haven’t made a meal plan for the week. I called out these ingredients because I know that I can generally make a meal around them based on what’s in my well-stocked freezer and refrigerator.

When I posted the blog on our Facebook page, our fans suggested plenty of foods to add to my list of go-to ingredients for quick easy meals. Here are some of our fans’ favorite things to have on hand, and delicious recipes to make with them.

Chicken and Rice
Renee turns to “rice, chicken broth, and whatever meat and vegetables I have available.” Those are the very ingredients that make Chicken & Rice Soup so easy to whip up. I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand and if not, I know I can easily make some substitutions, especially if I have leftover cooked chicken (or any meat or tofu, really) and/or cooked rice.

“I frequently go to eggs. I like them almost any way,” said Jackie. So do we! While we normally eat them for breakfast, they often make a dinner appearance too when I don’t want to make a complicated dinner, particularly Spanish Tortilla. In a pinch, I always have frozen chopped spinach on hand to sub for fresh spinach, and just about any cheese tastes great! No Spanish paprika? Just use regular. (Eggs are just one of 6 nutritious foods you can buy on a budget. Find out what the other five are!)

Frozen Pasta
Sally turns to frozen ravioli or tortellini. I always have a big bag of frozen tortellini in my freezer plus frozen vegetables, which makes preparing Tortellini Primavera a breeze! (Find out why smart cooks use frozen vegetables.)

Mexican-Food Staples
Many of you are sure to have stuff like beans, cheese, salsa and tortillas on hand to make Mex-Night. Who doesn’t love Mexican food? One of my favorite Mexican-inspired pantry dinners is Black Bean Croquettes with Fresh Salsa. I usually use store-bought salsa to make it faster (shhhh). (Get more delicious Mexican food recipes on a budget.)

Add your ideas to the list: What ingredients do you keep on hand to make dinner with? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Food Blog, Breakfast, Budget meals, Dinner, Quick meals

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

Carolyn asks: Add your ideas to the list: What ingredients do you keep on hand to make dinner with?

Tell us what you think:

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