Let’s be real: most people don’t have hours to spare every day creating meals from scratch. Home-cooked meals are generally healthier than ordering takeout all the time, but it can be a little overwhelming to figure out what to make every day. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to set up your pantry and fridge so you can cook something delicious without the stress.
First, figure out what you cook the most. Look at the foods you gravitate toward. If you love Japanese food, you’re going to need a lot more soy sauce and ginger than someone who routinely craves Southern cuisine. Figure out your favorite 3-4 dishes to cook, and make sure you have the ingredients on hand to make them whenever you like.
Next, look for easy ways to incorporate vegetables into your meals. This has become more of a priority after I got married, since my husband likes veggies more than most people I know. Sweet potatoes and carrots have a long shelf life, and dried mushrooms can be easily incorporated into a number of dishes. I always keep a bag of coleslaw mix on hand to toss into stir-fries and egg rolls—it saves a ton of time!
Also, keep an open mind with pantry staples like rice and noodles. You can turn almost anything into a donburi, and different kinds of noodles can make a delicious base for dishes like curry udon (pictured above). If you want more nutrient-dense options, opt for brown rice and soba noodles. The extra fiber and protein are great boosts to keep you satisfied longer.
Finally, be flexible! If you don’t have all the ingredients you expect to cook a particular dish, take that as a perfect time to experiment with new flavors. You just might discover a new favorite spin on an old favorite!