The 12 Best Items to Always Have on Hand for Quick, Healthy Suppers

The 12 Best Items to Always Have on Hand for Quick, Healthy Suppers

Dana Velden
Mar 18, 2013

We all know the situation: you've come home exhausted from a long day but you cannot rest because dinner needs to be on the table pronto. You (and your family) are hungry! It's tempting to throw a frozen pizza in the oven but you can whip up a healthier alternative in the same amount of time if your fridge and pantry are well-stocked. Read on for our 12 favorite things to have on hand for quick, healthy suppers.

A well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer is the way to stay on track for healthy eating. When you have good, simple basics on hand, there's no reason to reach for unhealthy processed convenience foods, or worse, take the drive-through route on the way home. Here are 12 of our favorite foods that cook up quick and easy, and more importantly, taste fresh and delicious.

  • Frozen Peas: Toss them in just about anything when you feel a vegetable is needed. Frozen peas are fresh tasting, firm textured, and cook up in just a few minutes. A healthy convenience food!
  • Prewashed spinach: A few handfuls of baby spinach will wilt almost immediately in a frying pan, adding a nice green element to stir fries or for the vegetable base for fritattas.
  • Green Onions: Almost every savory dish begins with frying onions. Green onions are especially helpful because the chop up and cook quickly.
  • Tomato Sauce: Whether it's your homemade version in the freezer or a favorite jarred brand, a premade tomato sauce is a terrific quick start to supper. And it's not just for pasta: use it to sauce a frittata or some leftover polenta or add it to a farro stir fry.
  • Pre-cooked vegetables: Take a cue from Tamar Adler and blanch or roast your vegetables when you get home from the market. Having these pre-cooked veg on hand means you can quickly toss together a hearty salad or pasta dish.


  • Leftover grain (rice, farro, bulgur): Always cook up extra grains and keep them in the refrigerator. They will reheat quickly and form the base for your supper. Farro is especially a nice choice as it reheats well and is a good-for-you whole grain.

  • Couscous: Put the kettle on when you walk in the door. When it boils, add the water to some couscous, and cover. 10 minutes later, uncover and fluff and there you have it!

  • Polenta: Make extra the next time you do polenta or buy one of those polenta-in-a-tube at the grocery store. Either way, creamy polenta is a great base for reheated vegetables and a little cheese.


  • Goat cheese or feta: Both cheeses last a while in the refrigerator and are very strong, so a little goes a long way for adding flavor to your dishes.

  • Eggs: Frittatas, scrambled eggs, omelets! Fried, poached, or hard boiled! Eggs are a perfect quick supper protein.

  • Sausages: Sausages are a good way to add a lot of flavor to a dish. A little goes a long way, especially if you slice them thinly or remove the casing and crumple them in. There are many delicious vegetarian 'sausages' these days as well.

  • A rotisserie chicken: A store-bought rotisserie chicken can translate into several 2-person meals, not to mention leaving you with bones for stock. Better yet, roast your own on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers in the coming week.

What things do you like to have on hand for those evenings when supper needs to be on the table quick?

Related: Camino's Fried Farro with Dark Greens

(Image: Faith Durand | Whole Wheat Couscous with Cherries and Arugula)

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