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What to Keep On Hand for Fast Weeknight Dinners

04/23/2015 05:37 EDT | Updated 06/23/2015 05:59 EDT
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Spaghetti with tomato sauce

I admit it I haven't been excited about cooking lately. Recipes with long and unique ingredient lists are just not my thing right now. Instead, I have focused on keeping my kitchen stocked with things that I can use to make quick dinners that my family loves. While it may lead to fewer unique dinners, it makes my seven year old a happy camper because he would eat the same thing every day for a year if we let him.

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Wondering what to add to your shopping list for easy and delicious dinners your family will love? Here are some of my favorites:

For the Pantry:

Canned diced tomatoes and canned beans -- These pantry items are great building blocks of many great and easy recipes. Here are a few of our favourites: Beef Noodle Soup, Easy Cheeseburger Noodle Skillet

Kraft Asian Sesame salad dressing -- I'm not a huge user of bottled dressings, but this one is divine. Plus it plays double duty as a great marinade for chicken, a great dressing for pasta salad (just toss it with noodles, cucumbers, mushrooms and bell peppers) and one of the ingredients Easy Asian Peanut Chicken Noodles.

Dried Pasta in all shapes and sizes -- Evan would eat pasta and spaghetti sauce every day if I would let him. I won't but I do keep pasta on hand because you can combine it with other ingredients to make an easy pasta skillet, soups, casseroles and more.

Rice -- Day old rice, eggs and leftover meat stir together to make a delicious fried rice in no time.

Jarred pasta sauce -- Pasta, meat and a great jarred sauce can be a jumping off point for a great dinner. Our fave sauce? President's Choice Mushroom. Our fave pasta sauce based recipe? Quick Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta Skillet It can also be used as pizza sauce.

Canned tuna -- Perfect for tuna salad or a tuna melt. YUM!

In the Freezer:

Mild Italian Sausages -- Many stores have bulk bags of Italian sausages separated into meal size portions. I keep a bag in the freezer at all times. They thaw really fast and are a great addition to pastas, casseroles or just throw them on the grill.

Frozen Pierogies -- Now this may be a Calgary thing, but the freezer section of our grocery store is full of different versions of frozen pierogies. Our faves are potato & cheddar or potato, cheddar & bacon. Just pan fry them with butter and onions and serve them up with grilled sausages and sour cream. Delicious and quick. Tip -- We've found that grocery store brands are just as good. In fact, No Name brand pierogies from Superstore are awesome.

Frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs and frozen hamburger meat -- I buy both of these staples in bulk and then divide them into portions that will feed our family for dinner (~5 chicken thighs/1 pound of hamburger meat). Then I can easily pull out one freezer bag to thaw for dinner and they thaw quickly. Meat like roasts, etc that are larger, I try to buy the week I will make them because I never remember to take food out of the freezer in time for something that large to thaw before dinner.

Frozen raw shrimp -- Frozen shrimp thaw out FAST and they also cook up fast. Perfect for stir fries or the grill.

Pita bread or Naan -- These make perfect crusts for mini pizzas.

In the Fridge:

Eggs and bacon -- Breakfast for dinner anyone?

Romaine hearts and Renee's Mighty Caesar dressing -- Caesar salads are easy and a crowd favorite. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a dinner salad.

Cheese -- Who can live without cheese? Enough said.

What are your favorite fast dinner meals?

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