No-Brainer: What Are Your Standby Meals?

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

We’ve been talking this month about quick weeknight meals and ways to fit cooking into our busy lives. In our house, one thing that really helps is having a few standby meals that require zero thinking: the ingredients are in the pantry, we can make it with our eyes closed, and it’s always good. Period. Do you have meals like this?

We love the excitement and rush of making a new recipe, but they also require a lot of energy. Ingredients and procedures are unfamiliar. We often have to stop and figure out what an instruction means, or miss a step altogether.

That’s why it’s nice to have a few recipes that we’ve made a million times before and know inside and out. We don’t have to wonder how long a step will take or if these onions are done enough. We can relax, even hold a conversation while our hands do the chopping.

We have three standby meals in our house: tomato sauce with pasta, frittatas, and homemade pizza. All of these are endlessly adaptable to whatever we have in the kitchen, even if it’s only a jar of roasted red peppers and an old onion. They’re not always the most fantastic dishes, but they are satisfying and get the job done.

A note for new cooks: If you’re just finding your way into the kitchen, it might take a little while to figure out which meals are going to be your standby meals. Trust us, the more you make those unfamiliar recipes, the easier and less time-consuming they will be come.

What are you standby meals?