Go-to dinners

The pantry served guests and the family.

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You might recall that sometime ago I wrote a post on my favourite frugal lunches.

It only made sense that I follow up with a list of my go-to dinners, inspired mainly after we spent a good half hour wandering around the supermarket in Wellington on our last night wondering what to cook. Who knew I’d be so lost without my pantry staples?

Here are some of my favourites. I tend to make it up as I go along, obviously, sometimes using recipes as a starting point. I’m especially fond of one-pot or one-pan style meals.

Soy/ginger noodle soup: Noodles, veggies/meat of your choice, stock (could be chicken or vegetarian), some grated ginger, and soy sauce. Easy! (Slow cooker version here; I just do it on the stove.)
Laksa / Thai curry: Curry paste, coconut milk, veggies/meat of your choice. Prawns if feeling extravagant. If Thai, eat with rice or noodles. (Laksa authenticity bonus: Boiled egg, tofu/fish balls, two kinds of noodles – vermicelli and egg).
Lemon chicken: I like this recipe.
Sweet and sour (insert meat of choice): Vinegar+ketchup+sugar+soy = flavour explosion.
Chili: You probably have your own favourite chili recipe. Whee! Crockpots make chili 25x better.
Nachos: Either vegetarian or meat versions. (We tend to stay away from tortillas/burritos as much as possible as they’re insanely expensive. I may try making my own one day.)
Pastas: Either white or red. Sometimes you just need a hearty spag bol and an early night.
Stirfries: I really only have two versions: a sweet chili, or a soy/teriyaki. Some onion, garlic, and maybe ginger, with whatever vegetables and meat we have on hand. A bit of rice wine vinegar in with the soy, and cornflour if it’s too runny. Rice is cheaper, but noodles make it a little more special, IMO.
Shepherd’s pie: The ultimate comfort food! Mashed potatoes atop savoury mince. And it’s easy to mix in veggies.
Classic meat and two veg: So. Many. Variations! Whether it’s sausages, steak or a roast, or whether the vegetables are steamed, boiled, roasted, mashed, or in a salad. If T is left to his own devices, we also get some kind of improvised but wholly delicious gravy to mop up, usually with mushrooms and onions.
BBQ pulled pork: Easiest thing in the world with a crockpot. Here’s a starting point.
Beef stroganoff: I have not made this in forever! Tomatoes and sour cream, plus tender beef strips…here’s some inspiration.

Finally, we’re both big fans of Indian but I have yet to make my own curry that is superior to sauce from a jar.

But baby, we’ve come a long way. Less than two years ago I couldn’t cook anything to save my life and I hadn’t even made my first batch of cookies. Our shopping trolley consisted largely of:

  • frozen dinners and pies, for work lunches
  • for dinners, pastas, sausages, readymade jarred sauces, chips, wedges and frozen mashed potato, as we were too lazy and timepoor to make our own (it’s actually incredibly tasty, not the dried stuff, but the freezer stuff)

What are some of your staple dinner recipes? Share away in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Go-to dinners

  • Reply Stephany March 21, 2011 at 12:37

    Oh, yes! Chili in the Crock-Pot is the BEST. Yum, yum, yum. And there’s usually so much left over that you have lunch for a week! 🙂

    I need to make nachos sometime. I love them, but never really make them as a meal.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 21, 2011 at 14:35

    pasketti, chili, omelete, grilled cheese, bean dip, cheese and crackers, macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas…

  • Reply Alotta Lettuce March 22, 2011 at 06:49

    How funny, I was just thinking of writing a post on this topic myself!

    My go-to meals are omelette, popcorn (yes, sometimes I eat popcorn and call it a meal. ha!) and spring rolls, because I can always find something to wrap up in rice paper, and they sell it in packages of about a million, so I ALWAYS have it on hand.

  • Reply First Gen American March 25, 2011 at 21:55

    Now I’m hungry. I’ve been lacking food inspiration lately. I’m a very good cook but I get to the point where I get sick of the same old stuff. The lemon chicken recipe does look really good. I should try a variation of it.

  • Reply The Asian Pear March 26, 2011 at 15:49

    Chili, Spaghetti, Steamed fish, pan-fried fish, baked chicken, dumplings. I try to change it up as much as possibel though. I like variety in my meals.

  • Reply Bridey June 11, 2011 at 14:39

    I’m so needing some meal inspiration at the moment, I’ll have to give the pulled pork a go next week.

    I’ve been loving this recipe for tortillas:

    Very easy and tasty!

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