Stocking Your Pantry: Meals in Minutes

Written by Nicole Dean

Do you keep in your pantry items to make a meal in minutes?

Take-out food is so expensive. When you do a little preparing, you can actually fix meals in minutes. While meals in minutes are probably better for you and your family than a burger and fries. The good thing is that you are saving money.

I always keep a bag of precooked fajitas meat in the freezer. Stir fry the meat, onions and bell peppers. Add lettuce and toast to make a fajitas salad. Open a can of fruit for dessert.

The same fajitas meat can make Nachos. Spread tortilla chips with bean dip, add fajita meat and cheese. Microwave until cheese is melted.

Quick fajitas can also be made with the meal. Add chips and hot sauce to make your meal.

Boil noodles and top with the stir fried fajitas meat. Add a jar of gravy and heat until hot. Serve meat over noodles. Add a salad to complete your meal.

Frozen meatballs are another staple I keep in my kitchen. Brown meatballs in a skillet until thawed. Add a can of spaghetti sauce and simmer. Boil spaghetti pasta. Broil under the broiler toast with butter and garlic powder for garlic toast. Add a salad to complete your meal.

Brown meatballs in a skillet. Cook Ramen noodles. Toss meatballs with noodles. Add a salad.

Brown meatballs in the skillet until thawed. Pour in a can of beef gravy. Open a box of macaroni and cheese. Add a salad to your meal.

I always keep a package of the frozen skillet meals in the freezer. These can be made within 15 to 20 minutes. Add a salad and a can of fruit and your meal is complete.

Kids love this dish– take 2 cans of Ravioli. Layer Ravioli, cheese and crushed corn chips. Top with cheese. Microwave until the cheese is melted. Add your salad and your set.

Fix a package of stuffing mix according to directions. Take thick slices of turkey that you can purchase from your deli. Roll stuffing inside turkey to make a roll. Pour a jar of turkey gravy over the top and microwave until warm. Serve with a can of green beans.

All time favorite is soup and grilled cheese sandwiches or soup and a salad is a big hit in the winter time.

A list of “never-outs” would be:

* Precooked frozen fajitas meat
* Salad fixings
* Bean dip or refried beans
* Shredded cheese
* Jar gravy
* Noodles
* Ramen noodles
* Frozen meatballs
* Spaghetti sauce
* Macaroni and cheese mix
* Frozen skillet meals
* Ravioli
* Corn chips
* Stove Top Stuffing mix
* Turkey gravy

Make a list of your “meals in minutes” and tape to the inside of your pantry door. When you are in a hurry, turn to your pantry instead of the phone number to your favorite take out restaurant. Every time you fix a quick and easy meal instead of take-out food, put the money you would have spent into a jar. Tell your family about the money jar. As a family, decide what you are going to do with this money. (I.e., Disney trip, etc.) Fast food is a habit everyone gets into, so make getting out of the habit fun for everyone.

About the Author:

Betty Reed Lynch, owner of My Country Kitchen, a menu planning service for the BUSY person! Visit her web site at: to subscribe to her menu planning service. If you have any questions, feel free to email Betty at


2 Responses to “Stocking Your Pantry: Meals in Minutes”

  1. Melanie says:
    September 1st, 2009 7:12 pm

    I think it’s great you are able to prepare so many cheap meals, but they’re not exactly that nutritious, where are the vegetables. I don’t think I would be getting my daily serve of nutrients from a can of green beans.

  2. Michelle Snow says:
    January 4th, 2010 7:53 pm

    My name is Michelle Snow and I have taken this idea in another direction. It has worked for me for years. I call it bag meals. Everything you need for the meal is in a bag. Everything means everything, the recipe, the water, the spices…everything. Each meal serves 6-8.

    I have been demonstrating bag meals since 2007. I also have a book titled, “It’s in the Bag: A new approach to food storage”, that is being released in May of 2010 by Cedar Fort Publishing. I have a blog that features bag meals and will give readers an inside view of the book’s journey, the latest kitchen experiments, preview recipes, and some promotional book giveaways. Please check the blog out and tell your friends. We use the recipes everyday for a quick and delicious meal anytime, even for the “kitchen-challenged.”

    You’ll find us at

    Thanks and happy eating!

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