What Are The Core Ingredients Needed For An Easy Meal?

Welcome to Advice for Impatient Foodies, R29's new cooking column. Each week, our executive food editor and Impatient Foodie founder, Elettra Wiedemann, will tackle any and all questions you might have about food. Seriously, no query is too big or too small. And don't be embarrassed! We've all had moments in the kitchen when we had no idea WTF was going on and wished we could ask someone other than Google for some pointers. So whether you need help frying an egg, knowing when your chicken is done, or deciding what to make for dinner, we've got your back.
What are some core ingredients to have on hand that make putting a meal together easy? Sometimes I have chicken defrosted, but no idea what to "make" out of it, or make it with.
Photographed by Erica Gannett.
My “stock items” include extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemons, Maldon salt, pasta, rice, canned tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs (like basil and parsley). I also always like to have some spinach in the fridge, because I can eat it raw, throw it on a sandwich, in a smoothie, or cook it in less than two minutes. So, if you had all those pantry items in your kitchen, let’s use your chicken as an example.

You could rub your defrosted chicken in olive oil, sprinkle Maldon salt all over it, and top with fresh lemon juice, and roast the bird. (Pro tip: Split roasting your chicken will yield the same amount of food, but halve the cooking time!)

While the chicken is cooking, you could sauté up some spinach and cook rice to make a nice, hearty meal. Or you could also cut up the chicken and cook it in tomato sauce with some garlic, onion, and herbs to create something delicious and comforting like this. If you're totally lost, you could always just boil the chicken in salted water to make what Italians call "bollito." Blend your fresh herbs and olive oil together to make an excellent salsa verde.

I'd also like to turn your attention to another recent post where I gave advice on how to use the prepared food section at the grocery store. I shop a combo of fresh foods and pre-made things to help streamline my cooking during the week.

I think you’ll find it helpful, and taken together, this may help to keep your finger off the Seamless button. Happy cooking!

More from Food & Drinks

It's no secret that food is one of the best categories for nostalgia. Who doesn't wax poetic about snack foods like Dunkaroos? But not all of our favorite...
If you've got a Trader Joe's in your neighborhood, chances are it's your go-to supermarket. It's cheap, convenient, and the snacks are unbeatable. It ...
Turmeric has quickly become classified as one of those magic superfoods — you know, the ones that you're always hearing about. This spice is basically the ...
S'mores are a messy dessert favorite. But why not skip the sticky situation and enjoy yours in a cone
While some people might be trying to get you to delete your Instagram food pics, there are many, many more tinkering around in their high-tech laboratories...
Growing up, your parents may have told you to be grateful for your food, because some people are starving. Now, your own meals can actually help other ...
Coffee lovers of the world, get ready. We have news that might make even a die-hard caffeine addict à la Lorelai Gilmore jump up and down in excitement. ...
(Paid Content) Scrambled eggs for breakfast? Yawn. Standard-issue pancakes? Predictable. To effectively get us out of bed in the a.m., we prefer a morning ...
DIY cotton candy ice cream that doesn't require an ice cream maker? Winning
Whether you're brunching or, uh, dinnering, etiquette is of the utmost importance when dining out. And no, we don't mean keeping your elbows off the table...
Once in college, I had a friend Google "how to make a grilled cheese," and I remember being completely baffled that someone would need a step-by-step ...
Once the vegetable our moms would have to beg us to try ("just a bite!"), today, we can't get enough of cauliflower. It practically defines the word ...
Great drinks, a perfect soundtrack, the perfect lighting: all these things can make a party good. But what makes a get-together memorable? The food. Once ...
A few months back, Zoe Bain went boldly where neither of us had gone before: She completely barred herself from anything takeout (yes, even coffee) for two...