10 Ingredients for A Million Easy Family Dinners

fridge Pre-marriage I did not cook. I mean, I did on occasion…but not really. Right after getting married, I gave it a good effort but it was always a whole thing – looking up recipes, going to the store (or two) to get ingredients, then following each step to a tee while crossing my fingers it turned out. If it didn’t, it wasn’t a huge deal, I could always just make a quick snack (i.e. protein shake) to eat instead.

But that doesn’t fly now. For one thing, there’s not a lot of time for recipe reading and ingredient searching. And aside from that, when you have little kids you can never NOT cook dinner. Like, no matter what, you must have something for them to eat. Being into nutrition, I can’t in good conscience give them something like cereal for dinner. And going out to eat, though fun on occasion, isn’t something I want to do every day either.

So each day around 4:30 pm, I find myself staring into the refrigerator thinking, “What should I make for dinner tonight?” Being a decent hike from the nearest grocery store, I’m forced to make something out of whatever is on hand. Sometimes (usually right after we’ve gone grocery shopping) there’s lots of choices staring back at me and I just need to choose one. Other times (when it’s been a while since the last grocery trip), there’s limited options and I have to get creative.

I’ve kind of got it down to a science that if I have only these 10 things on hand, I can always make a dinner that tastes good and is healthy.

  1. Protein – fish, chicken, beef, beans, etc
  2. Garlic & Onions (or garlic & onion powder, I get all of my organic spices for half price at Mountain Rose Herbs)
  3. Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  4. Vegetables (at the very least frozen)
  5. Organic Better Than Bouillon – chicken, beef, or vegetable (my secret kitchen weapon)
  6. Carrots & Celery – the perennial inhabitants of every crisper drawer in America
  7. Rice – (My kids are obsessed with rice)
  8. Lemon or Lime (fresh or bottled, organic of course)
  9. Olive Oil (ditto on the organic)
  10. Vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, or both)

That may seem super boring but in fact, it’s totally not. You can make so many things with just these 10 options. Tonight, I made chicken & rice soup with this. You can also make stews, chilis, stir-frys, crock pot meals, roasted vegetables, and of course an infinite number of protein, vegetables, and rice combos.

And bonus, most of these things are easy to keep stocked in your house.

Listen, you can always get more creative and when you have time, try out a new recipe. I try to do this at least twice a month. But my point is this, keep these 10 things in your kitchen and you’ll never have to run out to grab dinner or feed your family overpriced, disgusting freezer meals.

P.S. These are the kind of real life tips I give people in my Health Strategy Sessions. Can you imagine finally being able to have the food aspect of your life totally under control? I get people off of diets and into (doable, sustainable) healthy eating habits.