Hey, friends! Today’s post is a little bit different than the usual recipe that you find on here. Instead, I thought that it would be helpful to show you some very simple, very quick and easy weeknight dinners that you can pull together with only a few basic ingredients. It’s the perfect way to stock your pantry for the inevitable evening when nothing is planned and you can’t bear the thought of making another trip to the grocery store. This is also a very economical way to feed your family, since the recipes take advantage of leftovers and repurpose the same basic ingredients in slightly different ways. Can you come up with even more options? I’d love to hear some of your favorite weeknight dinners, too!
My friend Kristin and I were chatting on a recent walk when she suggested the idea for this post. Like me, Kristin is a busy mom with three little ones at home. She doesn’t always have the time or energy for meal planning and grocery shopping, so she was looking for some quick dinner ideas that she could pull together with items that she always has on hand. These suggestions are not groundbreaking, innovative, or complicated…but they are all family-friendly, easy, and delicious!
The idea is kind of like mixing and matching staple pieces of clothing in your wardrobe to form new or different outfits…except we’re doing that here with staple ingredients to form new or different meals.
Go ahead — add these 10 items to your next shopping list, and come back here the next time you need a dinner plan FAST. I hope that you find it helpful!
STOCK YOUR PANTRY (or refrigerator or freezer) WITH THESE 10 BASIC INGREDIENTS:
- Cooked rotisserie chicken (tip: you can remove any extra meat from the chicken and store it in an airtight container in the freezer to have on hand for a later meal)
- Spaghetti (or other pasta of choice)
- Raw, peeled and deveined frozen shrimp
- Teriyaki sauce
- Frozen broccoli (or other favorite veggies, which make a great last-minute side dish)
- Flour tortillas (these freeze very well, so buy plenty of them and keep extras in the freezer)
- Marinara sauce
- Ground beef (I like to buy this in bulk, divide it in 1-lb. increments, and freeze what I’m not using right away)
- Shredded cheese
With those 10 ingredients on hand, here are 8 EASY WEEKNIGHT DINNERS THAT YOU CAN CREATE:
- Simple Chicken Dinner: Serve the rotisserie chicken warm, with buttered pasta and a side of broccoli (or other frozen veggies)
- Chicken Quesadillas: Use leftover rotisserie chicken to make Chicken Quesadillas with the tortillas, cheese, and salsa. Have some tortillas chips in your pantry? Or canned or frozen corn? Serve those on the side!
- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce: Brown 1 lb. of ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain fat from the skillet and stir in a jar of marinara sauce. Serve meat sauce over cooked spaghetti. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if you have it!
- Beef Taquitos: Brown 1 lb. of ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain fat from the skillet and stir in salsa to coat the meat. Add a handful of shredded cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Place a small amount of the beef mixture down the center of a tortilla. Roll up tightly to form a taquito. Repeat with remaining meat/tortillas. Place taquitos seam-side down on a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the tops of the taquitos lightly with cooking spray or brush with butter (this will help them turn crispy and brown in the oven). Bake taquitos in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. You can find an alternate recipe for 4-Ingredient Chicken Taquitos HERE.
- Shrimp and Broccoli Teriyaki Skillet: Steam broccoli in the microwave according to package instructions. Set aside. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add thawed shrimp stir-fry just until pink (this will only take a couple of minutes, so be sure that you don’t overcook the shrimp). Add broccoli to the skillet with the shrimp, coat with teriyaki sauce, and heat through over low heat. Serve with rice if you have it, in lettuce wraps, or just on its own!
- Teriyaki Beef Tacos: Brown 1 lb. of ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain fat from the skillet and stir in teriyaki sauce to coat. Heat through over low heat. Wrap teriyaki beef in flour tortillas and serve.
- Pasta with Shrimp and Broccoli: Saute shrimp in a skillet until they just turn pink. Toss cooked shrimp with cooked spaghetti, steamed broccoli, and marinara sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if you have it!
- Tortilla Pizzas: One of my kids’ favorite meals! Toast flour tortillas in a 350-degree oven until just slightly golden brown. Top with marinara sauce and shredded cheese. Return to the oven until cheese melts. For a twist, you can add leftover cooked ground beef, chicken, or even shrimp to the top of your pizzas!
Okay! Now it’s your turn! Leave me a comment and let me know one of your favorite go-to weeknight dinners that uses pantry staples. We can all benefit from more last-minute suggestions!