I was talking to my girlfriends last night at Supper Club about the process of planning for and preparing a decent dinner meal. There are seven of us and we’re pretty evenly split — half are married with kids, and the other half are single. While we obviously enjoy food and eating it (hence our monthly Supper Club) the consensus was the same regardless of family status: dinner can be a chore. Especially so during this time of year when we’re all busy with work, family and end of school year activities. With so much else going on, dinner just becomes one more thing to think about. I actually enjoy cooking, but I get it. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t hungry at dinner time so I didn’t have to cook!
As I write this I’m actually thinking about what to make for tonight’s dinner, as I won’t get home until almost 7:00 pm. This is pretty late for us and leaves little time for much else before Norah’s 8:30 pm bed time.
One of my strategies (and what I write and talk about often) is keeping a stocked pantry. This certainly makes whipping up a quick dinner meal easy, and allows for little thought going into it. Below are some pantry dinner meal ideas that you can easily create with a stocked pantry and freezer.
7 Easy Weeknight Pantry Meals:
- Sauté 2-3 minced garlic cloves in olive oil until lightly brown. Add 1 can diced tomatoes + ½ tsp dried parsley + ½ tsp basil + salt + pepper. Add frozen turkey meatballs or frozen shrimp and simmer on low heat. Toss sauce with cooked quinoa, pasta or rice and top with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Combine 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice + 1 cup light coconut milk + 1 cup water or chicken stock + 2 Tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut + sea salt in a medium sauce pan. Bring to boil, reduce to low, cover and simmer 16-18 minutes or until rice is cooked. While rice is cooking, sauté frozen shrimp with 1 bag frozen Asian vegetables, season with salt + pepper. Serve shrimp over rice.
- Cook and drain 1 pound linguini pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Sauté ½ cup frozen peas in 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet until softened. To the peas add 1 can drained and rinsed cannellini beans + 1 can drained tuna + 1 tsp oregano + 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook until beans and tuna are heated through. Add reserved pasta water to pot to form a sauce. Serve sauce over pasta. Season with salt + pepper to taste and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Whisk together 1 large egg + 4 egg whites + salt + pepper in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine ½ cup drained and rinsed black beans + ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese + ¼ cup chunky salsa. Heat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan and let set slightly. Tilt pan and lift edges of omelet with a spatula allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath cooked portion; cook 3 minutes. Spoon bean mixture onto half of omelet and fold in half. Cook 1 minute or until cheese melts. Slide omelet onto serving plate, serve with whole grain toast.
- Cook and drain 1 pound spaghetti pasta, reserving 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot along with reserved cooking liquid. Stir in 1 jar store bought basil pesto, stir over low heat until spaghetti is evenly coated. Add 1 jar chopped roasted red peppers + toasted pine nuts + grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with your favorite steamed frozen veggie blend.
- In medium bowl, lightly mix 1 can red or pink salmon (drained and flaked) + 1 sliced green onion + 2 Tbsp horseradish + 2 Tbsp bread crumbs + 1 tsp soy sauce + salt and pepper. Shape mixture into 4 round patties. Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until hot. Add salmon cakes and cook about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve with romaine lettuce leaf wraps or whole grain buns + frozen edamame.
- Sauté 1 bag frozen red pepper veggie blend in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil with dried raisins (or any dried fruit). Sauté until raisins are plump and veggies are tender. In a separate bowl, mix 1-2 cups cooked quinoa with 2 Tbsp almond meal + 2 Tbsp ground flax seed. Combine quinoa with cooked veggies and raisins. Drizzle olive oil over quinoa and season with sea salt and pepper.
I hope you can see from these meal ideas that dinner doesn’t have to be stressful or boring and can be thrown together pretty quickly with a stocked pantry and freezer. I would love to hear your tricks for getting a good meal on the table after a crazy day!