Kitchen Tips That Save You Money
Simple Dinner Ideas Using Ingredients

Simple Dinner Ideas Using Ingredients

Simple dinner ideas using ingredients is how I have changed my focus in the kitchen. It’s time to simplify our lives and enjoy the process of meal planning, grocery shopping, and dinner prepping.

glass baking dish filled with salad topped with blood red oranges and purple carrots

Give yourself grace in the kitchen

Dinner stumps a lot of people because often we over complicate what dinners should look like. We watch Food Network, scroll through Pinterest, and we create a superficial expectation of meal time.

Sure I love a fancy dinner, doesn’t everyone? However, we don’t need to eat “fancy” dinners every night, and we don’t need to make different meals every single night of the week. No I’m not saying we need to eat tons of leftovers, but we can take some of the same ingredients and create other delicious meals. I will explain.

glass dish filled with roasted broccoli

simple foods taste better

When we go to the grocery store, often we look at produce and we don’t even know what to do with it. We look up recipes using canned cream of chicken soups, seasoning packets, biscuit mixes, and we really try to mask the flavors of the vegetables with dairy products and meat.

When I go grocery shopping for simple dinner ideas, I have a new found perspective. I actually grocery shop thinking about what each vegetable is going to taste like. How I want to cook it simply, to make it the shining star on the serving platter.

Just this week I grocery shopped at Trader Joe’s and found the most beautiful purple sweet potatoes. Most of you might look at those and just keep on walking by because you’re unsure how to even cook them or present them on a dinner plate.

All you need to do is bake them and serve them. They don’t need any other ingredients, besides a little salt, to make them taste fantastic!

cream platter with sliced and cooked purple sweet potatoes

How To Bake Sweet Potatoes The Easy Way:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a 9X13 glass baking dish, line your washed sweet potatoes in the pan.
  • Add 1 cup of water to the dish.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until soft.

what does a simple dinner look like

A simple dinner idea is a starch (carb), a fat, something green, a protein, and sometimes something sweet or fresh. Meals don’t even have to be this complicated! You don’t need 5 ingredients to make a meal, but these are all items your tongue LOVES!

Our tongues are always looking for something spicey and/or sweet, fatty, and salty. This is what gives us that sensation of satisfaction with each meal. To keep from over indulging or not feeling satisfied, I like to compliment our meals with a fat and something sweet, even if it’s just some olives and freshly sliced fruit.

table setting at dinner with bowls of sweet corn and kale soup sourdough bread and sliced pears

Meal planning simple meals

The more ingredients a recipe calls for, the more expensive the meal is going to be. Have you ever considered just preparing 1 vegetable as the main event? You buy asparagus at the store. Is it the shining star at meal time? That’s what I want you to think about as you meal plan.

I always have an ongoing theme each night of the week that I reference to when I’m meal planning for the week.

  • Mondays- pasta
  • Tuesdays- Mexican food
  • Wednesdays- leftovers or breakfast
  • Thursdays- new recipe
  • Fridays- pizza night
  • Saturdays- soup and salad or clean out the pantry night
  • Sundays- oatmeal

I don’t always follow this layout, however, if I’m feeling rather stumped on what to meal plan, I turn to this. Though the nights are themed, the dinners each week are vastly different.

I prefer having an idea in my mind, writing out a grocery list, but giving myself freedom to switch things up at the grocery store if any particular fruits and vegetables excite me.

Having simple dinner ideas in my mind gives me the freedom to choose in season vegetables and exposes my family to different produce often.

dinner table set with sliced oranges, steamed kale, sourdough bread, roasted potatoes, and black beans

how to put an easy dinner together

Meat is typically the main ingredient at meal time, but it doesn’t have to be. Try giving meat a back seat and make each component of the meal equal. If you’re going to serve a meat dish, then also highlight the sides.

We eat predominantly plant-based at my house. Beans are not the main event, though we eat them at nearly every dinner. The beans tend to be an equal part of dinner. I love eating this way because it gives us freedom to highlight each part of the meal.

  1. Think about a sweet potato, baked potato, rice dish, pasta, or squash as the starting point.
  2. Greens come next. Put an emphases on including something green into dinners each night.
  3. Next, think protein. Tofu, beans, or meat.
  4. Finally, something fresh at the table always cleanses the pallet after dinner, like sliced pears or oranges for example.
using leftovers to make potato tacos

use prepped ingredients to make new meals

If you are a working parent and don’t have time to cook an elaborate dinner each night, consider prepping ingredients on the weekends for simple dinner ideas.

Often times I bake a bag of sweet potatoes or yukon gold potatoes for easy meals. I also have freezer muffins in the freezer that I can pull out to add to dinners. I also like to make a big batch of beans to eat on at dinner time. If you’re a meat eater, grill a big batch of chicken to eat on for a few days.

This particular night, picture shown above, I used leftover beans and roasted potatoes to make tacos. These potato tacos are a hit! Here’s the recipe: Potato Tacos.

white bowl of black bean soup and cornbread muffins

The Blue Zones – How They Eat

Dinners don’t need to be complicated, they just need to be nourishing and filling. I am fascinated by The Blue Zones. If you’ve never read the book, you should. It’s studying people groups that live the longest on earth. One common trend between all blue zones is they don’t eat a wide variety of foods. They tend to eat the same types of foods on a daily basis, besides the differences in seasonal produce. They eat the same breakfasts, the same kinds of lunches, and generally the same types of dinners with a little variation.

Don’t think you have to buy exotic ingredients to make great food. Basic wholesome foods are wonderful to use and offer great nourishment for simple dinner ideas. Take a deep breath, and relax. Dinner prepping and meal time should be enjoyed. Food is is the best way to be a strong healthy person. Use fresh foods to optimize your health. You are going to feel your best, and simplifying meal time will equip you to be more successful in other areas of life.

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simple dinner ideas
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