The Prudent Pantry: Meals Ready to Eat - Last Minute Dinner Ideas
If you're like me, you probably leave your cooking to the last minute. Maybe you work full-time and have to prepare dinner when you get home. Maybe you're a housewife like me, but get too distracted during the day to get a head start on dinner. Whatever the reason, we could all use some last minute meal ideas for days when we don't plan ahead.
Here are a few from my list:
Stir-fry seems to have negative associations for a lot of people, but it can be really great, and it's a one-pot meal! (Okay, two pots if you make rice or noodles to go with it.
) My stir-fry tip: cook each vegetable (and the meat or tofu
) separately, rather than guessing at when to add it in. When everything is slightly underdone, add it all back into the pot with sauce. Making your own sauce is healthier than buying pre-made--try mixing soy sauce and rice vinegar with fresh ginger (or powdered if it's what you have
) and a little bit of hot sauce.
One of my all-time favorites is frittata. Have you ever had this wonderful variation on the omelet? Cook your choice of filling (vegetables, bacon, whatever you like
) in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, then pour 6-12 beaten eggs (the number needed to fill your pan
) over top. Let it cook until the bottom has set, then finish the top off under the broiler. You can optionally add cheese before transferring the pot to the broiler--I find it extra delicious with goat's cheese. Also for your consideration, Spanish Tortilla
, which is like a frittata made with potatoes.
Do you like Little Plates? That's what I call the Tapas-style meals that my family loves. I put out cheeses, meats like pepperoni and salami, olives, fresh bread if we have any or crackers if we don't, fruit, and whatever else is on hand. I put everything on little plates, hence the name. You could just as easily substitute some more Italian ingredients and call it Anti-Pasti. Either way, it is SO quick and SO easy and SO GOOD.
That's just three ideas, but there are dozens of quick meals that I make and hundreds or maybe even thousands of possibilities. The main thing is to find quick meals that are easy for you. That fit your lifestyle and food preferences. Make a list of them and stick it on the fridge. Then you will feel prepared next time you are caught unprepared.
So--what's on your list?
Annika Barranti is a writer living in Los Angeles and blogging at Through the Looking Glass. She and her husband are raising two children and trying to eat well on a tiny budget.