Dear 100 Hour Board,
What are some good recipes that don't need a ton of ingredients?
-Grocery Money Almost Gone and Hungry
I'm often amazed at the versatility of cream of chicken soup. One can of cream of chicken, one can of chicken noodle, and a can full of milk makes a creamy, fancy chicken noodle soup perfect for chilly afternoons. I like Divya's recommendation of using frozen chicken; throw some of that along with a jar of green enchilada sauce and a can of cream of chicken soup into a crockpot to make a meal that will give you some great leftovers to boot, especially if you add some rice and corn. Speaking of leftovers, this One Dish Chicken and Rice Bake makes an awesome casserole that tastes even better the second day. (Instead of using all the spices the recipe calls for, I grab a packet of dry onion soup mix and sprinkle it on top. Delicious.)
If you're looking to cut costs on food, you might also want to take a look at Board Question #1330 and similar questions in the archives.
I came home from school really hungry one day, to find that all I had left was a can of chili, some cooked rice leftovers from the day before, and a pack of tortillas. The only thing to do was make a cheater burrito. Surprisingly, it didn't taste too bad. I put the chili on the stove and mixed the pre-cooked rice in. The rice absorbed the liquid from the chili so it wasn't so messy, and I threw it all in the tortilla. It's definitely not as good as Cafe Rio, but it'll do in a pinch.
Taco Salad – Lettuce, a can of chili, and any toppings you want (tortilla chips, sour cream, guacamole, cheese, etc.).
Homemade pizza or pizzadillas – Seriously, making dough isn't that bad. But you can use a tortilla if you'd rather not make dough (dough/tortilla, pizza sauce, cheese, toppings).
Orzo with Parmesan and Basil – Pasta. Cuz it's easy and everyone loves it.
Split Pea Soup with Ham – Soup is great because you can make a ton and freeze any leftovers. You can use diced ham instead of a ham hock.
Ham and Pineapple Roll Ups – If you'd rather not use frozen rolls, try using canned biscuits or crescent rolls. This is a really easy recipe to customize to your liking. For instance, try...
Ground Beef Stuffed Crescents – Mmmm, cream cheese filling.
Porcupine Skillet – I'm looking forward to trying this recipe this week. I suspect Mr. Maven will love it.
Breakfast for dinner is always fun as well as relatively inexpensive and healthy. Eggs done your favorite way; bacon, sausage, or ham; hashbrowns; muffins, pancakes, or waffles from a mix--mix and match your favorites and there you have it--breakfast for dinner.
Spaghetti is also a great easy option--your favorite pasta shape plus some jarred sauce or make your own sauce with canned plain tomato sauce and Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, and parsley (don't forget the salt and pepper and garlic). Supplement with garlic bread, breadsticks, or rolls (the frozen food section in the grocery store has lots to choose from if you want pre-made).
Grilled cheese sandwiches and a canned soup are another good option if you're a soup fan.
Fried rice is one of my favorite simple recipes, here's a recipe that I use a lot. I often substitute green onion for the onion and add mushrooms or other veggies I have around, but it's good on its own too:
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cups cooked white rice, cold
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken meat
In a small bowl, beat egg with water. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add egg and leave flat for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and cut into shreds.
Heat oil in same skillet; add onion and saute until soft. Then add rice, soy sauce, pepper and chicken. Stir fry together for about 5 minutes, then stir in egg. Serve hot.
If you have a crockpot, there are a lot of simple recipes out there you can try that don't require many ingredients. I've had success with this Italian (Alfredo, but not really) Chicken recipe and this Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps recipe, and I plan to try this Cheesy Chicken and Rice recipe.
Last, but not least, there are a lot of simple, yet tasty things you can do with frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. If you shop around, you can find a bag on a good sale, making this a cheap and healthy meat option. For instance, I really love this Coconut Chicken and Apricot Sauce recipe. It's good on its own, over rice, or in a salad (especially with avocado and green onion). There are also a lot of marinade mixes you can buy for chicken, or you can create your own with whatever herbs and spices you already own.