There’s something so special about a home cooked meal. And in the last year since moving back to NYC, I honestly haven’t enjoyed enough of them! There are so many wonderful restaurants here, as well as great take out options, so pre-quarantine I was eating out almost 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, it was GREAT, (…and I can’t wait to enjoy them after this!), but 1. it was getting insanely expensive, and 2. I was constantly dehydrated because of the amount of salt that was being added to the food. What’s nice about making your own food is that you can control how much salt, butter, oil, etc. goes into it. Plus it can be very therapeutic and fun!
In the last 9 days, I’ve made every single meal at home, so I thought I’d share what I’ve been cooking because it’s really forced me to get creative! We were eating pasta almost every night for the first few days, and got super bored of that quickly, so I started experimenting and playing with different flavors. One night we will have an Italian dish, another night it’s Mexican, then Japanese, Greek, etc. I am by no means an expert in the kitchen, and actually barely have any patience when it comes to cooking! I like dishes that are quick and easy, but still super flavorful. These are some of my no-fail, simple meals that anyone can make at home.
Why You Need An Instant Pot
FYI many of these recipes have been adapted and tweaked by me to work in an Instant Pot. If you don’t already own an Instant Pot, order it right now. It’s the absolute best cooking device I’ve ever owned and cuts down your meal prep time significantly – often by an hour. Seriously, it makes rice, soups, cooks meat, etc. in only 12 minutes – you can’t beat that. Oh, and everything turns out so soft, moist and flavorful!!!
Easy Meal Prep Ideas
Pesto + Zucchini Noodles (optional add Pasta)
You can easily get pesto premade at the market, but I love making my own with fresh basil (it lasts up to a week in the fridge, or you can also freeze it.) For zucchini noodles, you just need a spiralizer!
Butternut Squash “Mac and Cheese” (Vegan/DF)
This recipe is so easy and delicious! It’s gluten free if you make it with gluten free pasta.
Veggie Packed Marinara over Pasta
An easy way to sneak veggies into your meal is to chop and saute carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onions (or whatever you have in the fridge), then add in a store bought marinara sauce like Rao’s, and mix in pasta.
Chicken + Wild Rice Stew
If you have an instant pot, this will be much easier! Either way, pre-cook the wild rice and set aside, then add chicken, chicken broth, celery, carrot, oregano, salt, and pepper to the instant pot and click the “Soup” setting which takes about 10 minutes. Once that’s done add the wild rice and you’ve got a fiber packed soup.
Tanita Teriyaki Chicken + Coconut White Rice
I shared this recipe on my IG Stories and it’s been a HUGE hit! So glad you gals are enjoying it! Teriyaki Marinade recipe: 3/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp minced fresh garlic, 2 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp sweet rice wine (you can find this on Amazon or at grocery stores), place all ingredients in a plastic bag with your meat of choice (works for veggies too!) and marinate for 2 hours in the fridge, then cook however you please. Coconut Rice (best in Instant Pot or rice cooker): 1 cup white basmati rice, 1 1/2 cups water, pinch of salt, 1 tbsp coconut oil, press rice setting.
Lemon Chicken Soup (Avgolemono Soup as the Greeks say)
This is one of my favorite soups! There are a ton of different recipes online, I kind of made up my own and adapted from this one. I use my Instant Pot to speed things up and saute the carrot, leek and onion first, then add the broth and chicken and click the “Soup” setting. Once it’s done I transfer it to a pot, and pour 2 ladles of broth to the egg/lemon juice mixture. I like to add lemon zest to this mixture as well. I cook the rice separate in the Instant Pot. Once that’s done, I pour some of the soup over the rice and top with feta cheese – it’s SO GOOD!
I use my Instant Pot for this as well, because it really speeds up the whole process. I don’t like beans or peppers, so I adapted this recipe and omitted them, but obviously if you like them – add them! My friend Camille just shared this vegan chili recipe which looks tasty too!
Chicken Noodle Soup
Easiest recipe ever – just saute carrots, celery and onion until they’re soft, then add 4 cups chicken broth, 1 lb chicken breast, salt, pepper, and any spices you have on hand (oregano, parsley, and a TEENY bit of turmeric are all my herbs of choice) to your Instant Pot and click the “Soup” setting. Cook pasta separately and add once it’s done!
Turkey Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
Add a little bit of butter and herb mixture (again I love using dried oregano and parsley) to ground turkey and make into a patty, then cook. Thinly slice sweet potatoes and toss in olive oil, then bake at 425 until golden brown (usually about 30+ minutes for me depending on how thin you cut them.)
This is a great lunch option, I just get romaine, big chunks of feta, olives, and toss together a simple vinaigrette!
This Ina Garten recipe is DIVINE. So creamy and so rich – my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Over the years, I’ve adapted it slightly to work in an Instant Pot. I half or sometimes quarter the recipe since it feeds so many people, and I omit the potatoes since I prefer it without them. While it is easier to use frozen corn, the fresh corn tastes better, and you can usually find fresh corn easily at any market.
Salsa Shredded Chicken Tacos
This is the easiest, most flavorful way to season chicken! Simply buy a jar of salsa and dump it into your Instant Pot, along with a 1/4 cup of water, a tsp of oregano, and 1 lb chicken (or veggies.) Cook on high for 10 minutes, shred chicken and eat with corn tortillas!
Fried Rice + Veggie Stir Fry
I don’t eat pork or red meat, BUT this recipe just tastes SO MUCH better with bacon. It really is the secret sauce. Take 3 strips of bacon, chop them up, cook them and let the fat render. Then add 1/2 chopped onion into to the fat and cook until the onion is soft. Then add chopped veggies of your choice and cook until they’re soft. While you’re doing this, cook white rice and set aside. Once it’s cooked, add the rice to the bacon/veggie pan. Stir for 5 minutes, and then add about 1 tbsp soy sauce, and a pinch of pepper. Make a hollow well/opening in the center of your rice mixture and crack 2 eggs. Scramble/cook the 2 eggs in the hollow until it’s slightly firm, then incorporate into the rice mixture.
You can of course make homemade dough, or you can buy frozen pizza dough. If you’re super lazy like me, then just buy English muffins and make mini “pizzas” with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Throw them in the oven and you’ve got yourself a meal!
Salmon + Asparagus
This combo is so simple and so yummy. I love searing both sides of the salmon in my Le Creuset pan (which PS is 40% off here!) for 5 minutes, then placing it in the oven (it’s oven safe!) with the salmon, and asparagus drenched in olive oil for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Searing it makes the outside crispy which really adds a nice texture to the fish.
Chicken Marsala over Egg Noodles
My dad always makes this for me every time I go home. TBH I haven’t made it for myself yet, and still need to find a good recipe (this one looks pretty good), but I LOVE the flavor of this dish. Mushrooms, cream, broth, chicken, all over egg noodles – mmm! You can find egg noodles at any market (obviously you can use regular pasta or even rice), but egg noodles really do add something special to the dish!
Chicken Pot Pie
This is another Ina Garten recipe that will impress anyone who tastes it. It’s a labor of love, but totally worth it. Forewarning it’s a very rich, creamy dish, and not low on calories haha! I highly recommend using low sodium chicken stock as I’ve found it to be too salty if you don’t!
Breakfast for Dinner
Mix things up and make scrambled eggs, an omelette, toast, waffles, pancakes, or whatever your favorite breakfast foods are for dinner!
Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup
This is a childhood favorite combo of mine. My favorite cheese for this is Tillamook extra sharp cheddar – hits the spot!
Romaine + Watermelon Radish salad with Homemade Dressing
If you’re craving a light salad, this one is effortless. Get romaine, chop up a colorful watermelon radish, and top it with my homemade dressing. My homemade dressing recipe (makes 1 1/2 cups so save extra for the week!): 3 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp honey, 1 small shallot finely diced, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 lemon juice, 1 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper.
Did I convince you to buy an Instant Pot yet? ;) What are some of your favorite meals to make at home? Would love to know and try them myself! If you make any of these share them with me on IG and I’ll post to my Stories! Enjoy!