There are certain fast ingredients that are the busy cook’s best friends and should always be on hand in your cupboard, freezer or refrigerator for quick meals. If you make sure that your pantry is stocked with these items at all times, your mealtime prep will be quicker and easier.
These staples have several advantages in common:
- They are basic, but very versatile, so they can be dressed up or down.
- They are popular with young and old alike.
- They generally tend to be inexpensive. Most important, they are quick and easy to prepare.
For me, these ingredients include:
- chicken, beef, and vegetable broth
- various kinds of pasta
- canned / frozen meat and vegetables
- several varieties of cheese, but always cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss (shredded cheese freezes well)
- cream soups
- frozen hash browns
- frozen burritos
- frozen ravioli
- beef kielbasa
Bulk prepared ingredients can bring dinner together faster as well:
With items like these on hand I can put together a pot of soup or a casserole that will go from preparation to table in 20-30 minutes.
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* Adapted from Secrets of a Busy Cook by Lynn Nelson, used by permission
Cooking with Fast Ingredients
Using frozen hash browns as a base for this easy crockpot soup means less prep. Just slice the kielbasa and dice the onion, combine everything in the crockpot, and turn it on for a ready-to-eat evening meal.
This easy crockpot London broil recipe (only 10 minute prep time) is tender and delicious! It can be started in the morning and ignored all day until you are ready to eat. If you’d like gravy, prepare it with the drippings just before serving, or use the drippings for an au jus for dipping.
This super easy recipe is a quick stovetop meal prepared with just 5 ingredients: cooked meatballs, butter, onion, heavy cream, and balsamic vinegar. Serve over egg noodles and add a salad for a full meal.