Here’s the thing, I’m not a meal planner. I DO try, and honestly, when I do it, the thing that has worked the best for me is making a calendar on my iCloud just for meals, and putting meals in the calendar on the day that I’m planning on making them. It’s super easy to move around (because that always happens) but I can look it from any of my devices and know what’s I’ve planned for. Now if there’s a way to track/scan/just be intelligent to know all the ingredients I have in my house… sign me up for that program! Then I’ll always know what I have and maybe it can give me suggestions on what to cook too. Did we just create an app?!?
While we’re waiting for that app to be developed, I’ll share with you the eight ingredients that I always have on hand – especially for those days when it’s an hour before dinner and I haven’t planned anything.
8 INGREDIENTS TO ALWAYS HAVE ON HAND
1 | CHICKEN BREAST
I buy chicken breast fresh, and then throw it right in the freezer. I don’t eat it fast enough to keep it all fresh, but I always, always have it in the freezer.
Chicken isn’t even my favorite protein – that would be any cut of red meat – but it’s the easiest to cook with. It still good, even after being frozen, and you can use it in a variety of recipes.
Whole30 Strawberry Basil Chicken with Avocado
Chicken with Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce
Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken
Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken
Baked Garlic Butter Chicken
2 | SHARP CHEDDAR CHEESE
I think if there’s a cheese to always have on hand, it’s a sharp cheddar cheese. Mozzarella came in a strong second, but since my family eats sharp cheddar cheese plain, on the regular, it came in first. Plus, cheddar cheese is the cheese you want when you make most Mexican dishes – and that’s my go to cuisine when trying to get a last minute dinner on the table.
sharp cheddar cheese taste amazing with these lentil tacos
3 | RICE or QUINOA
4 | BEANS – BLACK beans, REFRIED beans, GARBANZO beans
Beans, beans the magical fruit…. Hah! Even if they make us toot, my family loves eating BEANS! These are my three favorite kinds to always have on hand. From the obvious uses like quesadilla or tacos (black bean tacos or refried bean tacos) to maybe a few less obvious uses like adding garbanzo beans to pasta dishes or roasting them and adding to a salad for an extra bit of protein.
5 | eggs
I mean, this almost feels like a no-brainer, but I always, always make sure we have eggs. You can eat them scrambled for ALL the meals, plus, if you ever want to bake anything, you’re probably gonna need some eggs.
My favorite way to make scrambled eggs: Whisk eggs with about a tablespoon of half&half. Melt a little slice of butter into your hot pan and then add the whisked eggs. Let cook – without stirring – for about a minute. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and then break up the eggs into large, fluffy pieces. Once desired consistency is reach, dump them on to a plate and enjoy.
6 | BROCCOLI
This is on vegetable that my kids LOVE! Our favorite way to eat it is steamed with a little EVVO, salt and pepper. But I’ve ended up throwing this veggie in pasta dishes and curry’s too. It’s a great vegetable that hold pretty well in the refrigerator, as I only buy it fresh. (Or when have a friend who gives me fresh broccoli from her garden!)
7 | LIMES / lemons
Citrus is always a great thing to have on hand, and my favorite are limes and lemons. Not only are limes an essential part of a margarita (you know, for all that Mexican food I cook) but limes and lemons cook so well with chicken breasts too (see the recipes by the chicken breast!). Even with a simple pasta dish, a little lemon sauce can make it outstanding.
a good classic margarita recipe
8 | HEAVY CREAM
I know, if you don’t eat, like or cook Mexican food you probably totally disagree with me! Hah! But what are some ingredients YOU always keep on hand?!