The trick to a throw-together meal is having a decently (not even amazingly) stocked kitchen. If you have a few quickly-prepared items at home, then you are protected against going out to eat if you have a kitchen failure (which happens!), if someone gets sick and your planned-for dinner doesn't sound appealing, when you just don't feel like cooking but still have to eat, or when you have to cancel plans that included dinner.
That last scenario is exactly what happened to Shana and I last night. We made our meal plan (coming in another post, I promise), which included eating dinner with our "grocery store" friends on Thursday night. On Tuesday Shana realized she had a softball game Thursday night, so we had to bail on our plans. But that meant that I had no plan for dinner Thursday night. This week I've been busy with start of the school year meetings, too, so I had no time to get to a grocery store.
However, with my decently stocked kitchen, I managed to put together a meal of pan-fried tofu, mashed potatoes, and peas. We generally keep tofu in the fridge because we use it regularly (and we'll freeze it if it's getting close to the printed date), I had frozen peas, and we had some potatoes floating around since we had to buy a bag of red potatoes for wild rice soup earlier in the week (the store didn't have them in bulk).
Below are the speedy ingredients I try to keep on hand at all times:
- dried pasta
- cans of tomato puree (but pre-made sauces are fine, too)
- instant brown rice
- instant mashed potatoes
- frozen veggies (I keep corn, peas, and edamame, but keep what works for you)
- a can or two of multiple beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, great northern)
- a brick or two of tofu
- dried spices
- nutritional yeast
- fresh onions, garlic, and carrots