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13 Versatile Ingredients to Keep in Your Kitchen for Quick, Easy Meals

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Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
July 29, 2016 · 2.3k Views

So you just got home from work, have a dinner recipe in mind and guess what? You’re missing a couple of the main ingredients you need for the meal. This is a frustrating situation, as it causes you to either head back out the door and go to the store or delay the meal until the next day.

By always keeping versatile ingredients on hand in your refrigerator and pantry, you’ll be prepared to cook a variety of meals and never have to deal with this frustration again. These ingredients are easy to find in your local grocery store and as an added bonus, many of them are good for you, too. Read on to find out which 13 items you need to add to your grocery list this week.

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1. Olive oil

Source: The Paleo Mom

Olive oil is a healthy fat that’s good for a variety of uses. You can cook with it and drizzle it over vegetables, salads, fish, and pasta. Extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil has the best flavor.

2. Garlic

Garlic can quickly and easily add bold flavor to just about any dish. It’s used as a main ingredient in dishes all over the world. It’s great for pastas, sauces, marinades, meat, fish, vegetables and of course, garlic bread. You can use it a variety of ways and it still tastes great. It’s a real treat when barbecued.

3. Bacon

Source: Progressives Today

Is there nothing bacon can’t do? You can add it to burgers, pasta, salads, wraps, quesadillas and mac and cheese. It works great in omelets and other breakfast staples. You can even cover it in chocolate and it still tastes great.

4. Rice

Rice is used in many countries around the world because of its versatility. It’s also cheap and long-lasting. Rice is an easy-to-make side dish when you’re in need of a starch for your meal. You can also put it in burritos, add it to a vegetable stir-fry or simmer it with vegetables and chicken broth to create a satisfying soup. Combine it with chicken, pork or steak and add some vegetables to create your own rice bowl.

5. Nonfat Greek yogurt

Source: Daring Gourmet

This creamy yogurt is packed with protein and contains only 100 calories per serving. Its bold taste makes a great substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream. You can mix it with other ingredients to create marinades and salad dressings. It also tastes great when added to sauces, soups and cake batters.

6. Eggs

You can’t go wrong with keeping a dozen eggs in the fridge for baking and other recipes. They can be cooked a variety of ways to make just about any dish interesting. You can hard boil them for an on-the-go snack. You can easily add them to salads, pasta and rice for added flavor. They’re great in omelets and are healthy as well. Each egg contains 70 calories and six grams of protein.

7. Soy sauce

Source: Fox News

Soy sauce adds a salty kick to noodles and stir-fries. But it’s not just for Asian cuisine. It works great on fish and steaks and adds a savory flavoring to omelets.

8. Canned olives

Canned olives are healthy for you and have a long shelf life. You can use them in pastas and salads and they also make a great snack. They’re salty and satisfying, so stock up with a couple cans for when you’re looking for a pick-me-up between meals.

9. Honey

Source: Craving Yellow

Honey is a versatile sweetener that has medicinal purposes as well. It’s great for healing coughs and hangovers. It’s useful for salad dressings and marinades. When baking, you can also swap sugar for honey to keep cakes and brownies moist. Best of all, it can last a long time – years even – so don’t worry about stocking up.

10. Herbs

These little leaves pack an abundance of antioxidants, so not only do they add flavoring to your dishes, but they’re healthy for you as well. Keep a variety of them around and you can use them on just about anything, whether they’re fresh or left over. Cilantro is best for Southwestern or Thai dishes, while basil tastes great on Italian food and rosemary works well on marinades and chicken.

11. Ground chicken or turkey

Source: Simply Recipes

Chicken and turkey are lower in fat than ground beef, making them the perfect meats to keep on hand. Just keep them in the freezer and thaw them out when you’re ready to eat them. They cook easily and can be used in recipes such as stuffed bell peppers, rice bowls, meat sauces, and stir-fries. They also work well in Mexican staples such as tacos and enchiladas.

12. Hot sauce

Hot sauce is the perfect remedy to perk up bland food. You can easily turn beans, broccoli, chicken and many other foods from boring to exciting with just a couple drops of this awesome sauce. There are a couple varieties to choose from. If you like your sauce with a vinegary kick, try Louisiana-style sauces. If you prefer a sweet, garlicky taste, try sriracha sauce.

13. Bananas

Source: Wikipedia

Bananas are plentiful all year long and cost very little for a bunch. You can eat them as is or chop them into yogurt. You can also use them on toast and in sandwiches. Bananas don’t last long, however, but once they start turning bad, you can use them to make smoothies and banana bread.

There are many ingredients that can help you create one-of-a-kind recipes. By using the ones listed above, you can make awesome meat and pasta dishes, as well as stir-fries, soups, sandwiches, omelets, tacos and much more. The meal plans are endless. What will you be making for dinner tonight with these ingredients?


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Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.

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