Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shopping Lists and Easy Dinners

Some of my friends have mentioned that they don't enjoy cooking because they don't know where to start. I totally get this - the more often I cook, the more fun that I have doing it. Here are a few simple grocery lists of good things to have on hand and a few easy dinners that you can make with what's on the lists.

Most basic things to always have in the kitchen, this stuff keeps for a long time and you can use it whenever you get to it...
-olive oil
-balsamic vinegar
-butter or margarine in tubs or in sticks
-salt and pepper, in grinders when possible
-basic assorted spices: Herb de Provence is a versatile favorite, also never hurts to have ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, garlic salt or garlic powder
-giant bag of frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
-lean ground beef or turkey, separated into 1 lb or 1/2 lb freezer safe baggies
-canned white meat chicken (use in chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, or in quesadillas or burritos)
-instant brown and or white rice
-a jar or two of red pasta sauce
-dry pasta, preferrably whole wheat, I like capelinni or farfalle, Ian likes penne
-cans of chicken or turkey chilli
-cans of cooking soup (cream of chicken, cream of broccoli)
-a bag or two of frozen vegetables (broccoli, stir fry mix, peas/carrots/corn)
-a bottle of terriyaki stir fry sauce/marinade
-shredded or grated parmesan cheese, in the fridge this stuff keeps forever
-small jar of minced garlic, it keeps forever in the fridge and makes garlic easy to use instead of an intolerable smelly mess
-soy sauce
-fat free chicken broth or beef broth if you prefer the flavor
Stuff that doesn't keep as long or isn't as versatile, but that I try to keep on hand as much as possible...
-sour cream
-applesauce, the natural kind, beware of high fructose corn syrup
-bagged salad
-bag of frozen potstickers (healthy little pork/vegetable dumplings), the brand we have is Ling Ling
-one or two yellow onions (if you dice one up and only use half, throw the other half in a baggy in the freezer for next time)
-some potatoes, yukon gold are my favorite and I think they are the most versatile, sweet potatoes are also a good choice
-muli-grain bread
-water chestnuts
-canned pineapple
-BBQ sauce, do yourself a favor and get Sweet Baby Ray's
-Cornbread mix, the just add water kind
-tortilla chips
-cashews (good in stir fry, chicken salad and on hawaiian haystacks)
Some easy to use vegetables that can be picked up as needed:
-green beans
-snow peas or sugar snap peas
-bell peppers, in all colors
From these shopping lists you can make these main dishes:
-Cornmeal crusted chicken nuggets (dip them in honey or BBQ sauce), I think I posted this recipe on the blog
-Chicken marinara, put 2 chicken breasts in an 8x8 coated with cooking spray, pour a jar of marinara over the chicken, cover in foil and bake for 30-35 mins at 350, remove foil for the last 5-10 mins
-Chicken Parmesan
-Eggplant Parmesan, slice eggplant into rounds, dip the rounds into a shallow dish full of 2-3 egg whites, coat the the dipped slices in a mixture of 1 c bread crumbs and 1/2 c parmesan, baked on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray at 400 for 15 mins, flip the slices over and then bake for 10 -15 minutes more. Serve topped with bolognese sauce and some parmesan. Goes great with a green salad and some garlic toast.
-Spaghetti Bolognese (always brown the ground beef with some chopped up onion, it will taste amazing)
-Browned Butter Pasta (with or without broccoli), cook pasta, melt butter and then stir on low heat until it starts to brown and smell nutty, add butter to pasta along with a generous helping of parmesan, toss and enjoy.
-Terriyaki Stir Fry (use the stir fry sauce and the colorful fruits and vegetables - pineapple, red bell pepper, water chestnuts and some cashews)
-Garlic Stir Fry, use the green vegetables like bell peppers, celery and snow peas, cashews are good too (you can make an easy sauce with minced garlic, soy sauce, broth and some cornstarch)
-Shishkabob, stick pieces of onion, bell pepper, chicken (marinate in BBQ sauce) and pineapple on a bamboo skewer and cook in a george foreman grill. Brush with BBQ sauce before and after.
-Chili, serve with a dallop of sour cream on top and corn bread on the side
-Taco Salad, divide a bag of salad between two plates, top with half a can of heated turkey chilli, add salsa, sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips. Tada!
-Creamy Broccoli Chicken, mix some of the frozen broccoli into a can of cream of broccoli soup, pour over chicken in a shallow dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30-35 mins.
-Hawaiian Haystacks: start with rice, and then mix together a can of chicken with a can of cream of chicken soup (heat the mixture in the microwave), top with whatever you have in the kitchen, some options are: pineapple, cashews, celery, green onions, coconut, cheese, won ton noodles, i've seen just about everything.
-potsickers and rice: These are best with you take the extra step to brown the potstickers and make them crispy
And these sides:
-Baked potatoes - In the microwave on high for 5 -7 minutes for one potato, in the oven at 350 for about 45 mins.
-Balsamic Roasted Vegetables - this goes with anything,  cut up some vegetables into bite size chunks (potatoes, green beans, zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, carrots) toss in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, throw onto a cookie sheet lined with foil, sprinkle with herbs de provence and bake for 15 - 20 mins at 400
-Fried Rice, make rice and then throw it unto a skillet on the stove and add an egg, some peas and carrots (1/2 cup) and some soy sauce (1 -2 Tbsp) and a little bit of canola oil (1 or 2 Tbsp)
-Parmesan Zuchini, steam zuchinni for 5 - 10 minutes until fork tender, serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese
-Cinnamon Applesauce
-Butter Bread
-Parmesan Toast, spread bread with butter or margarine, sprinkle with parmesan, watch under the broiler for 1 - 2 minutes until the edges start to darken. For Garlic Toast, substitute a sprinkle of garlic powder or garlic salt instead of parmesan.
-Garlic Green Beans, sautee green beans in a Tbsp or two of broth, add a tsp or two of minced garlic and couple dashes of soy sauce for flavor
-Cornbread, according to package directions
-Savory Rice, make rice according to box directions, using broth instead of water

For easy, healthy recipes, and when I run out of ideas, my go to website is


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