20 Ingredients to Make 10 Meals

So, I had a reader say I should start an organizational blog… and after I stopped laughing (because I’ve never thought of myself as particularly organized)…  I realized that I have learned quite a bit about household management over the past 15 years or so… mostly in the cooking/saving money departments rather than the cleaning department.  🙂  I started thinking of items that I try to keep on hand for last minute meals and this is what I came up with!  If we are out of most of these ingredients, we desperately need to go to the store!  Some of these, I’d usually dress up a little more, but basic is good when the pantry is getting close to empty.  I’m assuming most people keep salt and pepper on hand and not including those…

20 Basic ingredients I keep on hand (there are more, these are just 20)


  • Rice
  • Dry pasta
  • Spaghetti sauce (well, I usually keep canned tomatoes, fresh garlic, dried oregano and dried basil but jarred sauce is easier!)
  • Onions (you can dice and freeze if you need too)
  • Potatoes
  • Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Broth
  • Sandwich Bread (can freeze if needed)… also peanut butter for sandwiches, but I don’t use it for any meals below.
  • Teriyaki or Soy Sauce
  • Cream of Chicken Soup


  • Eggs
  • Butter or margarine
  • Milk
  • Parmesan Cheese (fresh lasts a while, but grated is fine too!)
  • Cheddar cheese (shredded or block… block will last longer)


  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (bought in bulk and frozen in 1-pound portions)
  • Frozen stirfry mix
  • Frozen grean beans or corn
  • Peppers (buy fresh, slice and freeze)

Meals you can make with these 20 ingredients… just options!

  • Spaghetti with Garlic Bread (Cook dry pasta, Add onion/pepper/parm cheese to jarred spaghetti sauce, add butter and parm cheese to sandwich bread and bake)
  • Parmesan Chicken (serve over spaghetti or with parmesan roasted potatoes and green beans)
  • Chicken Stirfry (chicken, rice, frozen stirfry mix, teriyaki sauce)
  • Homemade Chicken nuggets (dip chicken chunks in milk or egg, then roll in bread crumb/parmesan cheese mixture and bake) and oven baked fries
  • Pasta with butter and parmesan cheese (and garlic if you have it!)
  • Baked Chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans
  • Combine chicken and cream of chicken soup in a skillet and serve over rice  (similar to this recipe) with green beans
  • Teriyaki Chicken Kebabs over rice (chicken, teriyaki sauce, onion, pepper, rice)
  • Breakfast for dinner:
    • Cheese, red pepper & onion omelet with potato pancakes (add an egg to leftover mashed potatoes and fry)
    • French toast (um… I guess without syrup…)
    • Eggs and toast or egg & cheese sandwich on toast with breakfast potatoes (diced potato, onion, pepper, oil)

Or add a few more ingredients and you can make these!  I found a few of these searching for recipes today so it’s pretty likely you’ll see them again.

  • Chicken fajitas (add tortillas and fajita seasoning),
  • Campbell’s Chicken and Rice Bake (add paprika and cream of mushroom soup)
  • Shredded chicken soft tacos (add Rotel to chicken breasts, cook in crockpot and shred, serve in tortillas with cheese)
  • Chicken noodle soup (add carrots and celery)
  • Quiche (add pie crust and half&half or cream)
  • Easy Skillet Chicken a la King (add pimentos, mushrooms, and onion powder)
  • Baked Mozarella Chicken Spaghetti (add mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and yogurt)
  • Super Easy Breakfast Casserole (add sausage and evaporated milk)
  • Baked Paprika-Parmesan Chicken (add paprika and flour)
  • Broccoli-Cheese Baked Potatoes (add fresh broccoli)

2 responses to this post.

  1. That’s a great list – love it – and bookmarked it 🙂


  2. Posted by Rae on May 12, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I hope you realize that my keyboard just shorted out due to the excessive salivating that I did while reading about all those delicious meals! You are a super cook! Really. I am actually going to throw out the frozen pizza and canned Spam and move on up to more sophisticated meals. Thanks to you! AND- I’m gettin organized! Yay!


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