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

R29 Original Series