Staples [And I Don’t Mean Office Supplies]

August 30, 2011

I really love days like today when I have a mile long list but a list that is doable! 2-3 big things and 10 small things. The small things give me so much satisfaction of accomplishment that I am motivated to do the big things! I finishing an article for Breathe (I have two in the Nov-Dec issue!) and my recipe for Jefferson Vineyards. Plus tons of small things related to the bakery, the blog and our move. Less than 2 weeks to go and I haven’t packed a single thing!

I wrapped up work just before dinnertime. Love that!


Matt had a great day at the bakery and came home just when I was putting the finishing touches on dinner.

I have a mental list of quick dinners that I turn to when I have no plan. Pretty much every meal we make at home is a wing-in meal! Although I usually have a small plan that starts cranking in my head after breakfast, but sometimes that changes at the last minute.

Here are things that are easy to keep on hand for quick dinners in order of importance

Vegetables = limitless, obviously. Try to have something green for every night of the week. Frozen veggies work well!

Proteins = beans, legumes, frozen fish (requires a day of advance planning), tinned fish, bacon, eggs, tofu <—many of these are easy to keep on hand verses buying “fresh” meat/fish

Grains = easy to keep in dry storage, and of course, bread!

Garnishes = cheese, nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, capers, pesto, sauces, and more. They give the meal flava!

Quick Dinner Staples
  • Bean burgers made from canned beans, veg on side
  • Salads with protein on top like eggs or fish, bread on side
  • Omelets or frittatas
  • Warm lentil salad
  • Pizza (dough needs some prep in advance)
  • Mexican bowl with beans + grain or chips, cheese yogurt
  • Savory pancakes
  • Anything sardines/tuna from a can
  • Soups with leftovers/beans/grains/veggies mixed in


So tonight we had pasta with zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, sun-dried tomato pesto and feta cheese. Matt gave it rave reviews and dinner was ready in about 15 minutes!


It was quite delicious if I do say so myself! Thanks to the delicious Whole Foods herbs de province sun-dried tomatoes and that feta cheese!



We ate inside – mosquitoes are still a problem…evidently bees too. Pee-pie!



Cheddar garlic toast Matt prepared on the side. And you see that beer ^^ I had a few sips of that too. Pasta and water just don’t taste good together!! 99% of the time the reason I want alcohol with dinner isn’t the buzz, it’s the wonderful way it goes with food. I need to come up with better things to drink during dinner!

Tomorrow’s my long day at the bakery, but at least I know I’m starting the day with an awesome bowl of overnight oats!

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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

1 juan August 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I want to learn all the beuty you made


2 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife August 30, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Wow, what a gorgeous pasta dinner! I think pasta and strong cheeses go amazing together :)

Have a fun, long day at the bakery tomorrow!


3 maria @ Chasing the Now August 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Thanks for the ideas. I’ve been so stuck in a food rut lately and I hate it.


4 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance August 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Love that the pasta matches the veggies :)


5 Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled August 30, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Love the one bowl dinners.

I really like the way beer goes with food. I’m not a wine drinker, but find that you can find similar pairings with most beers. I could for one now!


6 Lauren @ Lawfully Wedded Wife August 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm

That’s such a great and handy list of staples! Keeping things on hand for an easy dinner is definitely something I need to work on. I know what you mean about drinking with food, I like to have either diluted juice on ice or iced tea with my dinner! And every once in a while some wine of course. :)


7 Molly @ RDexposed August 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I was craving beer like no other tonight! Then the boy comes to dinner and spills about all the new additional beers to his upcoming beer fest. Oh the torture!!


8 Holly @ The Runny Egg August 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Mosquitos are no fun and neither are bees — is there a nest in your mailbox?

Love the easy pasta dish — and you are so right about booze + food :) Although I prefer wine over beer when it comes to pasta.


9 Cat @Breakfast to Bed August 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

A: that looks sooo good and I am sooo hungry right now!!
B: I need some of those bowls, soooo great!


10 Cait's Plate August 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Oooh, you may have just convinced me to throw together some overnight oats for tomorrow! Good call on that :)

Our “quick” dinners are very similar! I too have that same mental list – a lot of veggie burgers, beans, pre-cooked sausages, always veggies and pizzas!


11 Baking N Books August 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm

What a great list!

I get stuck in ruts though. Typically loads of veggies, some type of meat/fish and then quinoa/rice or beans or squash. Covered in marinara sauce – and cheese.

I wish I’d take the time to do more creative things, but always get tired at the end of the day.

Kath – when you do your articles – do you allot the time you spend on them according to pay in return? i.e = if your not being paid much, do you still spend a lot of time on them? Even if it only worked out to a few bucks/”hour”??! Curious as to my own situations at times…thanks.


12 Katya August 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I woud say always give your best and put substantial time and energy into EVERYTHING that you are paid to write, regardless of how much the payday is! Thta’s how you build integrity and credibility as a professional writer!


13 Baking N Books August 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Thank you for answering! Lovely response. Yes, I guess you have walk through the rain before you find the rainbow…right?


14 Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles August 30, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Finishing up before dinner is tht ebest, so you can just let go & relax! :) Enjoy Kath…


15 Rhodey August 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm

What about drinking seltzer with a squeeze of lemon and a mint leaf? It’s very refreshing. I also like seltzer with a maraschino cherry. It tastes decadent without adding too much sugar or calories.


16 Krissy - Shiawase Life August 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

This post might not have been about office supplies, but it sure was a virtual “easy button” when it comes to thinking about preparing meals! 😀 Bravo, Kath!!!


17 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 6:57 am



18 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats August 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Great dinner ideas! I seem to have a hard time working protein into my meals!


19 [email protected] August 30, 2011 at 9:21 pm

If you can unpack your house in 1 day, you can pack it in 1 day :).


20 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 6:57 am

Hahah – good point!


21 Chloe (In Fine Feather) August 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm

That’s my kind of dinner! Goat cheese is now added to my grocery list :)


22 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen August 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I’ve just read 3 posts all about pasta dinners and now I wish I had that tonight! Definitely making pantry pasta tomorrow :)


23 kaila@ healthy helper blog! August 30, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I always like making quick dinners too! Ya still feel like you’re cooking but without the long process. The sooner I get to eat the better!


24 Nikki @ The Legalista August 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm

That dinner combo sounds delish!! And it looks just amazing. I wish I had a Whole Foods close by :(

Thanks for posting that list of quick dinners! I’m so bookmarking this post –> law student with no time, so I cherish quick and nutritious meals!


25 Sweet and Savvy August 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Mosquitoes are awful! I was outside for 20 minutes and got at leassttt a bug bite a minute!


26 Jil @ Big City, Lil' Kitchen August 30, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Beauutiful dinner – and love the go-to stuff…it’s so true, it’s easier to eat healthfully and wholly when you are stocked to make good choices


27 Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot August 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm

That is the whitest feta I have ever seen! It looks go pretty! (if cheese can look pretty I guess?!?)


28 Shaya (Eye Girl Eats) August 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm

YUM! Dinner looks delish!! Have you tried iced tea perhaps? Or less healthy and more delicious- 1 part Fanta orange soda and 1 part red wine, over ice– like the Spanish do!

PS, what does ‘Pee-pie’ mean? Is it a southern thing? haha or is it something really obvious and I’m just obtuse for not getting it….


29 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 6:57 am

Oh gosh I don’t think I could drink Fanta – I hate their commercials!!

I pee-pie is kinda like “i see you peeking out”


30 Kelly ( August 31, 2011 at 7:46 am

I was gonna ask what pee-pie meant too! Heheh


31 Mom August 31, 2011 at 7:50 am

I think it’s like” peek-a-boo.” I’ve seen my southern friends saying it to their babies.


32 Lorin August 30, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Thanks for showing how you think with regards to meals. I’m pretty much the same way as you! Veggie? Check. Grain? Depends what I had earlier. Protein? Check!


33 ang August 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Hi Kath,
just thought i would pass along a recent post from carrie vitt over at deliciouslyorganic…it is a quick whole wheat crust pizza in a skillet, has beer in the crust, and is quick and yum!:) …for those days when you want something quick, but don’t have time for the dough to take its time to rise.


34 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 6:58 am

Cool! Love it!


35 Danielle August 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Thank you for this! I was so frustrated in the grocery store tonight because I feel like I am constantly needing to cook new things every week. I blame it on the fact I have a slight cook book obsession and have about 100 of them. This reminded me that I need to re-visit some of the staple meals we used to enjoy on a weekly basis! xo


36 Baking N Books August 31, 2011 at 7:12 am

I’m the same but opposite…I have a million cookbooks – but don’t hardly use them and just resort to routine staples!


37 JenATX August 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm

pizza + beer always a must..


38 Deva (Voracious Vorilee) August 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I love quick-to-table dinners. Most nights I am not home until well past the “normal” dinner hour, so having dinner from stove to table in 20 minutes or less is high on my list of priorities! Your list of staples is excellent – I love mix and match lists like that one, and it will be very helpful.


39 Ashley August 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Ooooh, I’ll take a hunk of that feta!!! The pasta veggie dish looks perfect!


40 Michelle (The Runner's Plate) August 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

It always makes me happy when I complete a lengthy to do list. It is one of the best feelings!

Oh, I also tried a Dough Boy Smoothie the other day and loved it!


41 courtney (pancakes and postcards) August 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm

pretty pics!


42 Isabel August 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I probably missed this post but where and why are y’all moving?!


43 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 7:00 am
44 Lindsay @ bike before bed August 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm

What great suggestions! Where did you get your pasta? Looks amazing!


45 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

It’s from WF – spinach flavor?


46 Lisa August 30, 2011 at 10:46 pm

A meal without a complimentary beer or glass of wine? Things that make me go “hmmmm?”


47 Christine (The Raw Project) August 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Great quick dinner suggestions, thanks. And your dinner looks gorgeous!


48 lynn @ the actor's diet August 30, 2011 at 11:12 pm

for some reason i only put feta on my salads. i bet they’re great in pasta!


49 Hannah August 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Amen to feta and goat cheese as staples!


50 Khushboo August 31, 2011 at 12:27 am

Pasta for dinner= always a win!


51 Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga August 31, 2011 at 12:29 am

Love that you have a rough mental list but that you’re willing to improvise and wing-it, as needed, with meals.

I was just commenting on another blog that most days are versions on a theme for us here but that I always!! have a well-stocked supply of fresh produce b/c without that, I am nothing. Cannot get anything going it seems!

Then I just start adding beans, tofu, edamame, dressings, sauces, and pretty soon, something materializes :)


52 Aine @ Something to Chew Over August 31, 2011 at 2:27 am

Yum they are great flavour combinations! :)


53 Sara August 31, 2011 at 2:30 am

I do the same thing – I always have a bunch of tinned beans on hand for a quick veggie burger, as well as salad fixin’s, eggs and milk. And tons and tons of pastas and grains :)


54 Jumanah @ Healthy Living in the Middle East August 31, 2011 at 4:00 am

My easy go to dinner when Im short on time is usually a salad or eggs! Thanks for the list- definately gives me some good ideas.

Your pasta dinner looks amazing! Especially with that feta! YUM!


55 Alex August 31, 2011 at 4:30 am

I recently discovered sweet potatoes as my go to quick dinner. I just pop it in the microwave for 5 minutes on each side and serve with whatever veggie leftovers I can find in the fridge. Sprinkled with some feta and I have some yummy eats in less than 15 minutes :-)


56 cathy August 31, 2011 at 5:04 am

congrats on getting through your to do list, kath! i can relate: my dad and i are masters of creating outlines of tasks to accomplish all in one day – the list gets so long, it’s seemingly impossible to get everything done. our family even calls that “pulling an erv day” (my dad’s name). it’s so satisfying at the end of the day to see all you’ve done!


57 Marijke August 31, 2011 at 5:31 am

I love pasta, veggies & feta for a quick evening meal that I know my husband will eat too!


58 Lauren August 31, 2011 at 5:53 am

I have such similar go-to dinners I keep on hand. I also think Egg Sammies fit well into that category. In fact, that is exactly what I have on the menu for tonight.


59 Cait @ Beyond Bananas August 31, 2011 at 6:00 am

Totally agree with all of your staples. We definitely use pizza as a staple as well as stir fry and tacos. I’ve just started using Spaghetti Squash – and have used it in a meal two times in aless then a week. I see it being a part of the regular rotation.


60 Diana @ frontyardfoodie August 31, 2011 at 6:06 am

We’ve been eating outside a lot lately and have been struggling to deal with the mosquitoes too. Also flies haven’t been scarce which is gross. Not bad enough that we don’t still try on a daily basis but bad enough that sometimes we hurry a little. hehe


61 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes August 31, 2011 at 6:12 am

Great ideas! I can’t wait to try these all out :) Enjoy the overnight oaties!


62 [email protected] and spice August 31, 2011 at 6:42 am

I’m getting better at the whole “throw things in a pan for dinner” now that summer is coming to an end and we’re back in the swing of things! Meal prep doesn’t have to be time consuming every night.. thanks for the great inspiration!


63 Sally Anne @ PaleoRunnerGirl August 31, 2011 at 6:51 am

Hi Kath!
I have just re-discovered the joy of iced tea (de-caf) with dinner. It is far more fun than water, but no hangover the next morning!


64 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 7:01 am

Yes, tea would probably work well. But then I have to make it! (or buy it..)

And 3 sips of beer do not give me a hangover :)


65 Sally Anne @ PaleoRunnerGirl August 31, 2011 at 7:33 am

Haha! I meant it is a good non-alcoholic option in general, not specifically for your three sips last night! :)

If you make sun tea it is SUPER easy–the sun does all of the work! :)


66 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 7:48 am


Do you have a link for sun tea?


67 Sally Anne @ PaleoRunnerGirl August 31, 2011 at 8:19 am

I am doing a post on it tomorrow so stay tuned! :) :)


68 John Gorss August 31, 2011 at 7:47 am

Dinner looks great! Paired with the Basil IPA…?…because it was super tasty! Looking forward to reading your atricles.
Hope all is well!


69 Allison L. August 31, 2011 at 9:18 am

I love iced tea with dinner!


70 Kelly August 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

I’m so that way with alcohol too, I’m a “matcher” and somethings just go together (like wine w/pasta). Excellent comment about the sun tea. I had some sun tea this summer, it wasn’t brewed at full strength so it was very light tea and it hit the spot! Also, I’m going to revisit sun-dried tomato’s. You guys have had them lately, I just used to not like them at all, though I like tomato’s? So I’ll give it a shot if it is going to add some nice flavor to simple meals. Thanks!


71 Angel7 August 31, 2011 at 9:58 am

Mosquitos will be gone soon!

However, my mom said that stinkbugs are still a problem where they live–something needs to be formulated to get rid of them! Per their name, they stink/smell horrible!


72 Shana August 31, 2011 at 10:21 am

I take the same approach to cooking dinner. I keep plenty of fresh produce and staples in the house and find its just as easy to throw those things together as it would be to pull out a frozen meal or go through the drive thru. We end up with a lot of mexican dishes because there is nothing easier than bean and rice bowls!


73 Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats August 31, 2011 at 10:37 am

That looks like an amazing pasta bowl! :) Great list of quick throw together meals. I will be needing those more and more now that school is in full swing.


74 Ashley August 31, 2011 at 11:09 am

I envy your skillz at coming up with meals on the fly. I usually just stick to recipes cause I get nervous about combining different ingredients. Thanks for the tips. :)


75 Dina August 31, 2011 at 11:34 am

Tons of great tip! It’s ironic that I am reading this on my lunch break and eating the whole grain couscous with sardines and greens I dumped together because it was on hand and I was running late.
Having the right ingredients can even keep you from being late to work.


76 Dee August 31, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Oh thank you for this list. I’ll be bookmarking! :)


77 Emily August 31, 2011 at 4:11 pm

You can easily defrost frozen fish (or any meat, but fish is extra quick) under running cold water for about 15 minutes. I just set it to a trickle and place the fish in a bowl. Then use the water to water plants or something. Just thought I would share in case people didn’t know this trick.


78 KathEats August 31, 2011 at 4:22 pm

That way never seems to work well with me – except for shrimp. I feel like fish is always too thick?!


79 Hillary August 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I do the same thing! It works well for most fish fillets, and it’s ready in just a few minutes!

Loved this post, Kath. I’ve never thought of making savory pancakes! YUM.


80 Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio August 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Awesome dinner!! I love doing “throw together pasta dishes”. They tend to be my favorite! Feta on pasta is soooo great too. I think it’s the salt.


81 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 31, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I’m actually having pasta for dinner right now! I love that it’s such a fast meal to prepare on busy days.


82 Alan Finkelstein September 1, 2011 at 12:24 am

Hi Kath, what an amazing blog you write. Great article. I have been eating well and exercising for 6 mos now and have lost 50 lbs. Trying to not eat processed food as much as possible. That pasta looks way good. Question: Pasta from WF-Check, Sun-dried tomatoes from WF-Check. How about the pesto? Did you create that or buy that?…from WF, too? And, is this pasta hot or cold…I bet I could figure it all out. Only, this is how I eat these days and that looks amazing. I’m gonna have try it. Keep up the good work. It looks like you have a whole base of fans and me who appreciate all your efforts.-al


83 KathEats September 1, 2011 at 8:19 am

Thanks Alan! Congrats on your weight loss!!

The pesto was Karen’s homemade recipe. It’s sun-dried tomatoes, parm cheese, garlic and some oil whirred in a food processor (she doesn’t have an official recipe). It’s great!

We served the pasta warm, but cold would work too!


84 Alan Finkelstein September 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

Aren’t you so nice for writing back. I made those strawberry n banana overnight oats…pretty good! I mean very good! I found your blog thru Carrots & Cake I love reading food blogs and learning something new everyday. My food blog into was through Kalyn’s Kitchen. I wanted a south beach diet blog and she was it. I have something like 900+ Facebook friends. I’ll do my best to promote your site by reposting some of your posts…giving you credit, of course. I really like what you do here. Healthy food blows away all the bad food any day of the week…It’s very good work you do here…I am inspired…ok ok, I’ll settle down.-al


85 Shayla @ The Good Life September 1, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Great dinner suggestions, thanks! And that pasta looks delish!

I too always have trouble finding a good drink besides a tasty beer or wine to have with dinner…if you come up with one let us know, in the meantime I’ll keep stealing sips from my hubby’s wine/beer too 😉


86 Allison September 2, 2011 at 9:04 am

Mmm, iced tea or ginger ale are some of my summer go-to drinks, so refreshing with a squirt of lemon!


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