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What to Keep On Hand for Quick Dinners

What to Keep On Hand for Quick Dinners


Last week I admitted that I haven’t been excited about cooking lately. Recipes with long and unique ingredient lists are just not my thing right now. Instead, I have focussed on keeping my kitchen stocked with things that I can use to make quick dinners that my family loves. While it may lead to fewer unique dinners, it makes my 7 year old a happy camper because he would eat the same thing every day for a year if we let him.

Wondering what to add to your shopping list for easy and delicious dinners your family will love? Here are some of my favorites:

For the Pantry:

  • Canned diced tomatoes and canned beans – These pantry items are great building blocks of many great and easy recipes. Here are a few of our favorites: Beef Noodle Soup, Easy Cheeseburger Noodle Skillet
  • Kraft Asian Sesame salad dressing – I’m not a huge user of bottled dressings but this one is divine. Plus it plays double duty as a great marinade for chicken, a great dressing for pasta salad (just toss it with noodles, cucumbers, mushrooms and bell peppers) and one of the ingredients Easy Asian Peanut Chicken Noodles.
  • Dried Pasta in all shapes and sizes – Evan would eat pasta and spaghetti sauce every day if I would let him. I won’t but I do keep pasta on hand because you can combine it with other ingredients to make an easy pasta skillet, soups, casseroles and more.
  • Rice – Day old rice, eggs and leftover meat stir together to make a delicious fried rice in no time.
  • Jarred pasta sauce – Pasta, meat and a great jarred sauce can be a jumping off point for a great dinner. Our fave sauce? President’s Choice Mushroom. Our fave pasta sauce based recipe? Quick Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet It can also be used as pizza sauce.
  • Canned tuna – Perfect for tuna salad or a tuna melt. YUM!

In the Freezer:

  • Mild Italian Sausages – Many stores have bulk bags of Italian sausages separated into meal size portions. I keep a bag in the freezer at all times. They thaw really fast and are a great addition to pastas, casseroles or just throw them on the grill.
  • Frozen Perogies – Now this may be a Calgary thing but the freezer section of our grocery store is full of different versions of frozen perogies. Our faves are potato & cheddar or potato, cheddar & bacon. Just pan fry them with butter and onions and serve them up with grilled sausages and sour cream. Delicious and quick. Tip – We’ve found that grocery store brands are just as good. In fact, No Name brand perogies from Superstore are awesome.
  • Frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs and frozen hamburger meat – I buy both of these staples in bulk and then divide them into portions that will feed our family for dinner (~5 chicken thighs/1 pound of hamburger meat). Then I can easily pull out one freezer bag to thaw for dinner and they thaw quickly. Meat like roasts, etc that are larger, I try to buy the week I will make them because I never remember to take food out of the freezer in time for something that large to thaw before dinner.
  • Frozen raw shrimp – Frozen shrimp thaw out FAST and they also cook up fast. Perfect for stir fries or the grill.
  • Pita bread or Naan – These make perfect crusts for mini pizzas.

In the Fridge

  • Eggs and bacon – Breakfast for dinner anyone?
  • Romaine hearts and Renee’s Mighty Caesar dressing – Caesar salads are easy and a crowd favorite. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a dinner salad.
  • Cheese – Who can live without cheese? Enough said.

Keep these items on hand and you’ll never be without something to make for dinner. What are your must have items to have on hand?


Tuesday 26th of January 2016

Freezer: browned, slightly seasoned ground beef-this will do for Taco Tuesdays or to throw into other dishes as needed.

Fridge: Spicy Tomato sauce. My husband is Nigerian so he has a certain version he likes and makes. He puts it on top of rice and whatever I have on hand to make it more Nigerian. A brilliant win-win for us.

Kyla@Mommy's Weird

Sunday 19th of April 2015

Okay. Ihad the most AMAZING supper with Tiffany of My Dirt last night and am now convinced to have Italian sausage in the home at all times!!!!

Tiffany @ Mydirt

Friday 17th of April 2015

Great tips! I also keep on hand a can of cream of mushroom soup. So much I can do with it!


Thursday 16th of April 2015

With the exception of the shellfish (Mike is anaphylactic) we pretty much have the same staples. Also Maya is such a picky eater that I keep frozen waffles and cinnamon toast crunch on hand for when we are eating something that she won't.

Jody Robbins

Thursday 16th of April 2015

Great tips! I never thought about using dressings as a marinade, but in a pinch it would do just fine. One thing I started doing is freezing leftover cut up onions. When I'm the hurry to make a sauce I just dump the frozen, pre-cut onions into a hot pan. Oh and Nigella got me on keeping garlic oil in the pantry. Saves you the step of having to use a garlic press.