The New Year has started and with that, the new school semester. Do you have some "go to" items in your pantry that you can use to put a fast, nutritious and most importantly delicious meal on the table?
With the average drive through meal for a family of four being what, $20 or more (my guestimate), NOT having to do that will save you money over the course of the year. My 5 kids have activities 5 out of 7 days a week so over the years, I have added some fast and easy meal ideas to my reportoire.
Here are a few of the "go to" items I always keep in my kitchen and what I do with them.
1. Black Beans. Not only are they a great source of protein, they are also high in antioxidants and dietary fiber. And, unlike other canned vegetables that have little nutritional value, there is little nutritional difference in canned black beans and the ones you cook yourself.
My favorite "go to" meal with black beans is black bean and cheese quesadillas. They are ready start to finish in 5 minutes and my kids love them. and if you want a great black bean chili recipe click here.
2. Turkey chili. This one is not as healthy, but it is still fast and hearty. You can also get the beanless variety. This one served with low cal tortilla chips and topped with a handful of low-fat cheese makes the kids super happy and is also done start to finish in 5 minutes.
3. Hard boiled eggs. If I know I have an exceptionally busy couple days coming up I will boil a dozen eggs and keep in the fridge on hand for that time period. They are a nutritious and low fat snack in and of themselves but make a quick salad that much better and make throwing together a five minute tuna salad possible.
4. Pasta of Choice. Mix 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt (we use Celtic) and 1-2 tsp garlic. Toss to coat pasta. Healthy, Fast, and Delicious. If you have fresh basil to add....even better.
5. Quinoa. Quinoa is high in protein, making it a great diet staple for those who are eating a vegan diet. My kids love it as a "breakfast for dinner" night, cooked and served with fruit and a bit of brown sugar (like an oatmeal), but the recipes you can make with this health food are endless. (You should not eat Quinoa if you are on an oxalate-restricted diet). And did you know just one meatless day a week can save a typical family of four $250/yr? (source: Shift your Habit, by Elizabeth Rogers, p. 82)
There is also a great checklist for pantry staples by REAL SIMPLE.
What do you keep in your pantry for "go to" fast meals? I would love to read about them and try them on my next busy night!