You say you can't cook. But you probably can.
After talking with some friends, it's come to my attention that a lot of people want to go grocery shopping and buy some things for the house so that they can cook a couple of nights a week and save that $50 that is otherwise donated to Uber Eats or your favorite takeout spot. While we all love takeout, we also all love not spending all of our money and being able to buy other things, like wine.
So what's the problem? What I'm hearing is that you don't know exactly what to buy unless you're following a specific recipe. And if you do buy some stuff, you don't know how to make variations of things without having a recipe to follow. I'm going to take a stab at hopefully helping you solve the weeknight 'what do I cook I have no food and I'm not creative in the kitchen' dilemma.
Here's my list of kitchen staples, and from it, 58 things you can make at home. WHATTTTTT? The best part? You can make everything in under 30 min, with maybe one or two exceptions. There's enough variety in there that you can mix & match, go meaty or veggie, choose savory or...savory.
And of course, if you plan in advance, you can get some things each week at the grocry store in addition to these staples that will add to your options and give you more variety to choose from.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Box of Pasta
- Jasmine Rice
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Tuna
- Sandwich Bread
- Red Onion
- Yellow Onion
- Ginger Root
- Pecans (or whatever nuts you like)
- Marinara Sauce
- Spices & Things:
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Salt & Pepper
- Corn Starch
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Sliced Deli Turkey/Chicken
- Chicken Stock (I buy the paste that you add water to to make stock because the paste doesn’t expire nearly as quickly.)
- Box/Bag of Lettuce
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Soy Sauce
- Yellow Mustard
- Dijon Mustard
- Mayonnaise (Duke’s is what I keep)
- Ground Turkey
- 1 pan of food from whenever you make your next casserole style dish. Currently mine is Enchiladas.
- Shredded Cheese
- Dumplings (from Trader Joe’s or Costco)
- Stir Fry Vegetables (buy a bag in the frozen section, whatever variety you like)
58 Things You Can Make
(And this is WITHOUT having to go by the store to grab any extra ingredients.)
1. Fried Rice - Make jasmine rice, sear it in a pan with coconut oil, chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
a. Onion Fried Rice – Add a diced onion to the rice when you’re frying it.
b. Egg Fried Rice – Make the rice same as above. Scoot everything to the side and fry up a couple of eggs in the other half of the pan and then mix it all together.
c. Trio – Add onion and egg.
d. Fried Egg & Sriracha – add a fried egg on top of the rice. Add some sriracha for a kick.
e. Peanut Butter Fried Rice – Trust me it’s delicious. Do all of the above and add in a big blob of peanut butter when you mix in the rice.
2. Egg Drop Soup – Make chicken stock and add fresh garlic and ginger and soy sauce. Bring it to a simmer. Make a paste with corn starch and water, add it into the stock. Whisk 1-2 eggs in a bowl, and then drizzle it into the pot over a fork. Let it sit for 15-20 seconds and then give the soup a whirl.
a. With dumplings – make frozen dumplings according to the package and add them into the soup.
3. Egg Scramble – Whisk eggs with salt and pepper. Add a glug of milk/cream. Scramble.
a. Tomato Eggs – Simmer a can of tomatoes with salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika until the liquid reduces. Continue as above.
b. Herb Eggs – Scramble eggs with chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, or whatever combo you like.
c. Eggs on Toast – Serve any variation on toasted sandwich bread.
d. Cherry Tomato Eggs – Add sliced cherry tomatoes for a fresh element.
e. Meat Eggs – add in cooked ground meat that you defrost from the freezer.
f. Cheesy Eggs – Add frozen shredded cheese.
4. Egg Sandwich – scramble eggs and make a sandwich.
a. Cheese – add a slice of cheese.
b. Onion – Sautee sliced onion before scrambling the eggs. Scramble the eggs with the onion in the pan.
5. Turkey Sandwich – turkey, lettuce from the bag of lettuce, cheese, mustard, mayo.
a. Weird Spicy – mix Sriracha and mayo to make a spicy sauce. Leave off the cheese and mustard.
b. Seared Turkey – cook turkey in a pan with some oil or butter. Add it to a sandwich.
c. Turkey Fried Egg – Turkey sandwich with fried egg.
d. Sliced Onion – add some sliced onion onto any variety for a tiny kick.
6. Salad – lettuce, cherry tomatoes, toasted nuts, oil & vinegar, salt & pepper.
a. Dijon dressing – mix oil & vinegar with Dijon and shake.
b. Herb dressing – mix oil with lemon/lime juice and chopped fresh herbs.
c. Tuna on Salad – add canned tuna on top for protein.
d. Hard Boiled Eggs – boil an egg, peel it and slice it on top of the salad.
7. Tuna Salad – mix canned tuna with some greek yogurt (or mayo), lemon juice, salt, pepper.
a. Tuna Salad Sandwich – make a sammie out of it.
b. Tuna Noodle Salad – Boil noodles. Let them cool a bit, add in tuna salad and more mayo/greek yogurt, lemon juice, and stir it around.
8. Olive Oil Pasta – cook the noodles. Add some pasta water to a pan with some oil, butter, salt and pepper, and stir in the noodles.
a. Spicy – Add crushed red pepper.
b. Tangy – Add lemon juice.
c. Herby – add a bunch of chopped basil.
d. Meaty – add cooked ground meat.
e. Combo – Pasta lovers combo of spicy, tangy, herby, meaty.
9. Pasta – cook the noodles, add the jar of sauce.
a. Meaty – add cooked ground meat to the sauce.
b. Herby – add fresh herbs to the sauce.
c. Spicy – add crushed red pepper to the sauce.
d. Combo – spicy weeknight Bolognese with ground meat, red sauce, crushed red pepper, and herbs.
10. Pasta casserole – cook pasta, add in sauce, add in shredded cheese from the freezer. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 until cheese melts & starts to brown.
a. Meaty – add meat to the sauce.
b. Spicy – add crushed red pepper to the sauce.
c. Herby – add fresh herbs to the sauce.
d. Combo – add all three.
11. Frozen Casserole – reheat what you already made!
12. Stir Fry – make the stir fry veggies in your freezer with some soy sauce.
a. Fried Egg – add a fried egg on top.
b. With Rice – cook rice. Serve the stir fry on top.
c. With Dumplings – serve with cooked dumplings.
13. Super Simple Chili – cook ground meat, and in diced onion and garlic, add canned tomatoes, some chicken stock if you need it for extra liquid, cumin, chili powder.
a. Cincy Style – add some cinnamon, but not too much or it’ll seem like it tastes sweet.
14. Bunless Turkey Burgers – shred half an onion on a cheese grater, add it to the raw ground meat. Add salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like. Cook patties on the pan.
a. Caramelized onion – slice and caramelize the rest of the onion. Add it to the top of the patty.
b. Cheesy – add cheese.
c. Cheesy & Oniony – do both.