As a meal planning blogger, one of the questions I get most often is for ideas on how to put together a quick meal on busy nights. For me, it’s essential that I have a supply of kitchen staples. Through the years, I have cooked in many family or friends’ kitchens and it surprises me sometimes to discover what basic tools and ingredients are missing. So, I’ve put together my top 10 favorites to help get you started.

  1. Onions. Easy to add into sauces or soups, or sautéed them to fill a taco or top a sandwich. They keep for a while, so it’s easy to keep one or two always on hand.
  2. Lettuce or spinach. These are our top two leafy greens. When not used in a salad, spinach can be added to soups or even smoothies. The lettuce makes a great wrap, too, when you’re out of tortillas!
  3. Olive oil. This heart-healthy cooking oil is great in a salad dressing or to use when sautéing vegetables.
  4. Fresh garlic. Garlic is full of antioxidants and is simple to throw into just about any dish, whether it’s included in a sauce, sautéed and added to roasted vegetables, or used in a salad dressing,
  5. Protein of your choice. I generally keep at least a meal’s worth of chicken, ground beef or turkey, fish or tofu in my refrigerator or freezer at all times. That way I can cook it up to include in soft tacos or make chicken nuggets, or sauté and mix with some sauce for a quick and easy dinner.
  6. Complete set of measuring cups for both dry ingredients and wet ingredients. It’s just a lot easier to have the right kind of measuring tools!
  7. Complete set of measuring spoons. Keep things simple by having a basic set of measuring spoons.
  8. Large, good-quality chef’s knife. Having a sharp, quality knife at all time can make a big difference when it comes to easy ingredient preparation.
  9. Blender for whipping up sauces, dressings or smoothies. A blender can even serve as a food processor for making healthy dips and other delicious treats.
  10. Quality pots and pans, two sizes and a fry pan. Most recipes require just a few different size pots. Maybe it’s for making sauces or stirring up a soup. A frying pan helps prepare stir fries or breakfast foods like pancakes in a jiffy.

I hope these ideas help you evaluate your own kitchen needs and that soon you can have a well-stocked kitchen to help you get meals to the table a lot more quickly.

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