Pantry Staples for Quick, Easy Dinners

March is National Nutrition Month! To celebrate, we asked some of our Health Coaches to tell us what they do on days they can’t make it to the store or don’t have a lot of time or energy to get dinner on the table. We all know that cooking at home is healthier than eating out, but some nights we just can’t be bothered, or don’t have time, to make a fancy meal. That’s ok! With a few strategic pantry staples, you can have a healthy meal in a jiffy. Check out what they had to say:

Low-salt canned chopped tomatoes & whole grain pasta. When I don’t feel like cooking, this is my go to. I boil the pasta al dente, then throw the tomatoes in a large sauté pan with whatever else I have on hand – onion, garlic, fresh or frozen veggies, canned beans or lentils, and dried herbs & spices. Sauté everything with a little olive oil, add the noodles, and dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes.

– Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN

Potatoes, frozen broccoli, and plain Greek yogurt. When I get home and need a quick meal fast, I microwave a potato for a few minutes and steam my broccoli at the same time. Cover the potato with the broccoli, add whatever seasoning sounds good, and top with the plain Greek yogurt and a little cheddar if I’m feeling fancy. A super quick and filling baked potato dinner!

– Taisha Bell, RDN

For an easy one pan meal, take a whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle on some cheddar cheese and black beans.  Cook on the stove until crispy, or pop in the microwave if you’re really in a hurry.  Top with your favorite salsa.

– Caitlin Dunn, MS, RDN, LDN, CDWC

I keep frozen edamame and brown rice in my pantry and freezer as a base for quick, nutritious meals. Add fresh or frozen veggies along with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil for a plant-based stir-fry. Bonus: this dish comes together quick if you pre-cook and freeze your brown rice.

– Andrea Serlet, RDN

Canned beans (garbanzo, black, pinto, etc.) and brown rice. These staples are the perfect pair to have on hand. Just add some veggies and avocado and you have a nice balanced meal. Beans and rice also make a nice base for taco filling, burritos, soup, veggie burgers and much, much more! The options are endless. Canned beans and brown rice are definitely my go-to essentials.

– Tracey Martin, MS, CN

Quinoa Mexican Bowls. Throw together quinoa, black or pinto beans, salsa, and canned corn in a bowl. Quinoa cooks quicker than rice and has more protein too! Add some spices like cumin, paprika, and cayenne for extra flavor. Toss with greens of your choice for a balanced, quick, and easy lunch or dinner.

– Madison Service, RDN

Eggs. You can microwave them, boil them, bake them, or pan-fry. They add flavor and nutrition as a centerpiece on whole-grain rice, pasta, or quinoa, sliced in a salad, or atop a baked sweet potato. A standard mealtime mantra around our house is “throw an egg on it!”

– Lindsay Allen

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Image of Brook Health Expert Kelsea
Reviewed by Kelsea Hoover, MS, RDN​

on March 2nd, 2020. Kelsea is a Registered Dietitian with her Master's degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA.