Constantly seeking out recipe-specific ingredients that may only be used once or twice can be a burden. Instead, keep your home stocked with necessities to simplify dinner prep with dishes made using common household staples.
One perfect example: pastas. These recipes for Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta, Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti and Pasta in a Pinch include easily recognizable seasonings and canned goods for simple dinner solutions. Plus, they all include dairy, an irreplaceable part of a balanced diet as a source of essential nutrients.
Another way to scale back on unnecessary grocery purchases is to give yourself permission to modify. Many recipes can be tweaked for personal preferences, such as using black beans rather than kidney beans or adjusting the amount of a spice used based on your family’s tastes.
Stock your pantry and refrigerator with versatile ingredients like these:
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned beans
- Quick-cook rice
- Small whole-grain pasta
- Stock, like vegetable, chicken or beef
- Fluid milk
- Shredded cheese
- Plain Greek yogurt
For more ideas to simplify family meals, visit milkmeansmore.org.
Minestrone Pasta Saute with Ricotta
Recipe courtesy of Lori Yates of “Foxes Love Lemons” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 8 ounces ditalini pasta
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 carrots, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 bunch kale, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 pound lean ground beef (optional)
- 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water then drain pasta.
- In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add carrots, garlic and onion; cook 3 minutes, or until vegetables start to soften, stirring occasionally. Add kale and green beans; cook 3 minutes, or until green beans are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
- Add wine to skillet; cook 2 minutes, or until most liquid has evaporated. Transfer vegetables to medium bowl. If including meat, return skillet to medium-high heat. Add ground beef; cook 6-8 minutes, or until meat is cooked through, breaking up with side of spoon. Spoon off excess fat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add kidney beans, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, pasta, reserved pasta cooking water and cooked vegetable mixture to skillet with beef, if using. Cook 2 minutes, or until warmed through, stirring occasionally. Divide pasta between four pasta bowls or plates and top with Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses.
Pasta in a Pinch
Recipe courtesy of Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RDN, of “Jenny With the Good Eats” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- freshly chopped herbs, for garnish (optional)
- In large microwavable bowl, place uncooked penne pasta and pour water over top to cover. With food-safe plastic wrap, cover bowl, leaving small section to vent as it cooks. Cook 3 minutes longer than package directs, approximately 13 minutes.
- Once pasta has cooked, drain into colander then place back in bowl. Add salt, pepper, basil, garlic powder and milk; stir to combine. Begin to stir in cheese a little at a time. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir again.
- Add cannellini beans and diced tomatoes; stir. Microwave 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Assess if ingredients are hot and cheese is melted. If not, microwave 1-2 minutes.
- Top with Parmesan cheese and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Creamy One-Pot Spaghetti
Recipe courtesy of Marcia Stanley, MS, RDN, on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or reduced-sodium beef broth
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 8 ounces spaghetti noodles, broken into 3-4-inch pieces
- 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, cubed
- 1 1/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)
- Using saute function of pressure cooker, heat oil until hot. Add meat and onion. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes, or until meat is browned, stirring to break up. Press cancel.
- Stir broth, marinara sauce, fennel seeds and cayenne pepper into meat. Stir in spaghetti, making sure noodle pieces are covered by liquid. Secure lid and set pressure release to sealing function. Select high pressure and cook 5 minutes. Press cancel.
- Allow pressure to release naturally 2 minutes. Move pressure release to venting function to release remaining steam. Remove lid.
- Stir spaghetti mixture. Stir in cream cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted. Ladle into bowls to serve. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Garnish with chopped fresh basil or parsley, if desired.