Have you ever watched a cooking show, or read a food article, where the “easy” or “simple” meals that are advertised don’t actually look that easy at all? For some people, maybe having four different pots bubbling away on the stove at one time is easy, but for most people, having too many things to think about during dinnertime can be more overwhelming, intimidating and annoying than easy and time saving.
Easy dinners should be easy from start to finish. They shouldn’t require tons of ingredients, should require minimal prep and total cooking time, and shouldn’t need so many different dishes and tools that your kitchen looks like a war zone when you’re finished cooking; this is why one-dish meals are the way to go when you need meals that are truly simple to make and serve. One-dish meals clearly don’t require many dishes that will result in long cleanups and are perfect for adding lots of protein and veggies for balanced eating.
If you’re short on dinner ideas but don’t want to spend money on pizza delivery, try out one of these dishes. They can all be made in one dish or pot but are still more than hearty enough to fill up your family.
- Casseroles: Casseroles are one of the most versatile one-dish options out there since there are so many casserole varieties. Luckily, the steps for most casseroles are all equally simple: mix and bake. Whether you’re in the mood for lasagna, Shepherd’s pie, tuna noodle casserole or chicken bakes, casseroles can be made from whatever meats, grains and vegetables you’ve got on hand. Frozen casseroles are another easy option for quick meals that work as full meals, since they typically contain lots of vegetables and meat to keep your family full.
- Chili: If you have a large saucepan or crockpot, you have the potential to make easy meals for weeks at a time, and chili recipes are some of the simplest and most delicious things to make in a crockpot. Simply dump your chicken, beef or turkey, beans, spices and tomato sauce into the crockpot, flip on the switch and come back to it in a few hours for a pot full of chili that’s ready to eat. Even the most inexperienced cooks will have a hard time messing up chili, and it’s one of the most comforting meals you can eat this fall and winter.
- Soups and Stews: Similar to chili recipe, soups and stews can usually be cooked up on the stove in one big pot. Soups are especially easy; if you have pre-packaged chicken stock, defrosted chicken and any type of dry pasta, it’s easy to keep everything simmering on the stove until the soup is bubbly, the chicken is cooked, and any vegetables you choose to throw in are nice and tender. During the cold seasons especially, soup is one of the best meals to come home to. Cut up a crusty loaf of bread while the soup is simmering for a hot, comforting meal.
- Frittatas: When you think of one-dish meals, eggs are probably not the first thing to come to mind. But think about it; cooking eggs requires just one skillet, and you can add all kinds of other ingredients to them for a little more substance. Frittatas are especially hearty one-skillet meals; they’re essentially casseroles that you heat up on the stove, meaning they take hardly any time at all. Slice your frittata like a pie for quick and easy serving at dinnertime.
This recipe for Easy Rice Casserole is a great example of an easy, budget-friendly one-dish meal that is perfect for weeknights when you just don’t feel like cooking. It’s comforting, hearty and full of vegetables; try it out tonight and enjoy!
Easy Rice Casserole
Prep Time: 5 min – Total Time: 30 min – Serves: 4 (370 calories per serving)
- PAM® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
- 1 14.75 oz can Marie Callender’s® Chicken Pot Pie Style Soup
- 1 cup reduced fat (2%) milk
- 1/4 cup Egg Beaters® Original
- 1-1/4 cups instant white rice, uncooked
- 1 14.5 oz can cut green beans, drained
- 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 10 round buttery flavored crackers, crushed
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
- Stir together soup, milk and Egg Beaters in a medium bowl. Add rice, green beans and cheese; mix until the rice is completely coated.
- Place the rice mixture in a dish and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle crackers over the top; bake for 5 more minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Author Bio: Meredith writes on behalf of Marie Callender’s Meals, whose wholesome chicken pot pies and comfort bakes make hearty and satisfying one-dish dinners. Visit www.mariecallendersmeals.com to browse through more one-dish dinner options.