Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Throw it together" meals

I like being able to make a whole meal out of stuff I just happen to have around. I've blogged about my meal planning, but I supplement our planned dinners with more spur-of-the-moment options.

I'd love to hear what meals you throw together, from the items in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Here are some of ours:
  • Pasta salad (Yesterday's version included whole wheat rotini, chopped up cheese, baby spinach, carrots, tomatoes, celery, white beans, artichoke hearts, green olives, chopped pepperoni, and a couple types of salad dressing. I was feeling creative--I usually don't throw in that many ingredients!)
  • Bean and cheese burritos
  • Cheese quesadillas (grilled on the stovetop)
  • Breakfast for dinner (in various incarnations)
  • Tuna sandwiches
  • Frozen chicken breasts, which can be seasoned and then baked...without thawing!
  • Pizza (Since I usually have bread dough in the fridge, I can easily make pizza--individual-size or full-size--as long as I keep a few other ingredients on hand. I have started keeping shredded mozzarella in the freezer so I have it when I need it.)
  • Baked potatoes with toppings

Looking forward to your suggestions!


Kara said...

Our favorite is Buffalo chicken salads - pretty bare bones, but I always have chicken breast, romaine, Buffalo sauce, and ranch dressing on hand. So I bake or grill the chicken, chop it up, toss it in Buffalo sauce and throw it over some lettuce. Easy, and I can always do it in a pinch!

Our other is hummus - I always have chick peas on hand, and we have it as sandwiches or for dipping veggies.

Call Me Cate said...

Making me hungry... In a pinch, we always have frozen tilapia in the freezer. Ten minutes to thaw and then we broil it with a topping Joe makes from a bit of low-fat mayo, parmesan, butter and parsley.

Frozen ground beef (or turkey) plus a can of Ro-Tel served either in wraps or with rice is another simple main we make.

And chicken breast, pan-fried in whatever spices tickle my fancy at the moment is popular as well.

Tia said...


1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 onion
olive oil
brown sugar (if wanted to make it sweeter)
red pepper flakes (if wanted to make is spicer)
shredded cheese
tortilla chips

cook onion in olive oil
add drained and rinsed black beans and corn
as salsa and brown sugar and pepper flakes
heat through
put on chips
top with shredded cheese (chris also adds sour cream and taco sauce)

YUM! We have this about once a week! Hope you enjoy

nopinkhere said...

I make mexican pizza at least once a week, mostly because my son loves it.

Preheat oven to 450-500 deg. F.
Lay out fajita-sized tortillas on a baking sheet. We like the HEB Homestyle ones.
Spread with refried beans (regular, vegetarian, black).
For K's, he just wants shredded cheese on the beans.
For the adults, I add rotel and HEB shredded seasoned chicken (I freeze in portions sized for a batch) and then top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 6 or 7 minutes, until edges of tortillas get a bit crispy.
Serve with toppings--sour cream, jalepenos, guacamole, etc.
I add some fruit and call it good.

Becky said...

My go-tos are:

1) Spaghetti (though not necessarily made with spaghetti noodles, just whatever pasta I have in the cupboard)

2) Sandwiches or wraps, with whatever meat, cheese, vegetables, sauces I have around at the moment - turkey, avocado, and tomato is my favorite

3) Chicken nugget salad - exactly what it sounds like. Lettuce with cut-up, baked chicken nuggets on top, and whatever other toppings (cheese, tomatoes, salad dressing) I have around.

4) Boxed macaroni & cheese, and I add vegetables and shrimp to make it a complete meal (I just boil the veggies and frozen shrimp in the water along with the macaroni noodles - so easy!).

Good topic! I'm enjoying reading other people's go-to meals. I try to do meal planning, but more often than not on weeknights, I'm too tired by the time I get home from work to do any "real" cooking and end up going the quick & easy route. Reason #83 why I love my crockpot so much. :-)

Cathy said...

Beth, your PaPa makes a burrito out of ANYTHING. It it's a left over in the refrigerator, it'll probably make its way inside a tortilla - w/cheese added and all melted together of course!

Scriptor Senex said...

Virtually all my meals are thrown together from the cupboards when I'm not catering for others! Tonight it was boiled onion with cheese sauce and a side salad. Last night - Tuna Rissoles (with sweetcorn and parsley sauce in them).

Chris said...

I am notorious for making a sandwich out of anything in the fridge.

2cats said...

We like to have:

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup

Tuna melt sandwiches


Special K said...

We just had simple- pasta with oil and veggies on the side for the kids and lots of veggies with my pasta for me with pizzas made from these healthy things in the deli called "Flat Out breads for Kids" chocked full of flaxseed and other such goodness. Yum!

Janell said...

I do a lot of the same ones you do. Also:

Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (we like to dip them)

Soft tacos or taco salad (depending on if we have chips or tortillas)

Navajo tacos (if I have pre-made dough and canned chili)

Hawaiian haystacks (I do a pretty simplified version, as long as I have pre-cooked chicken or the time to cook it)

Taco soup (made from mostly canned ingredients)

Fried rice (with leftover meat--usually ham--and frozen veggies)

Breakfast skillets - this works well if you have leftover ham/bacon and baked potatoes. I just fry up the potatoes, ham, eggs, and whatever else I have on hand like tomatoes and peppers, add cheese and seasonings, mix it all together and viola!

This post helped me get out of my dinner rut tonight. Thanks. :)

Shannon said...

I throw some meat and veggies and whatever else in with some yellow rice and voila- rice bowl!

janice said...

My year-round go-to meals when I'm feeling uninspired to cook are usually scrambled eggs with homemade biscuits (always have tons of eggs and flour in the house!) or pancakes. I'm loving the wonderful summer produce right now- the last couple of nights I've grabbed some amazingly ripe & sweet fruit from the farmers market, picked up a loaf of bread from there too, tossed together an herb salad & arranged a few types of cheeses- simple perfection! (My husband thinks I'm a amazing cook right now!)

caryn said...

I love to cook and I wish I was good at throwing thing together and have them come out great but I'm not, however, my husband is the king of it. He can make a meal out of anything we have laying around and it taste fantastic, that of course could be just because I didn't make it! I think he gets it because he is one of 14 and being one of the older one was responsible for getting meals ready when his mother had to work.

Jesmi said...

Spaghetti, fried rice, chicken soup(get a bag of soup starter and throw in a couple of chicken legs), spanish rice, chilli.... If I may suggest... get a crockpot. Super easy to cook with and very tasty too. Throw it together in the morning.... come home and ... FOOD! A small rice cooker is nice to have too.

Anonymous said...

Beth -- You and other young mothers may think, "Oh, when our children are grown, we will make wonderfully lavish, time-consuming meals." But we have found that now that we have lots of time, we still don't want to spend it on cooking, so we STILL look for quick meals much of the time.

One of our favorites is the Contessa brand chicken stir fry. A whole meal in a skillet in about 10 minutes. I do add a package of the Steam Fresh broccoli to up the healthy quotient. Sooo simple. With just a tall glass of iced tea added I consider it a perfect meal.

And, still one of my life-long favorite meals -- a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of cold milk.