The Crucial Tip To Remember When Planning Meals With Few Ingredients

Whether you're new to cooking, balancing a busy schedule, or on a low budget, meals with few ingredients save you time, money, and effort. There are so many meals you can come up with, and they'll defy the bland standard of plain white rice and grilled chicken breast. That said, there's a crucial tip to remember when planning meals with few ingredients: Look for the most flavorful versions of each ingredient. 

Grocery stores offer frozen, canned, and dried foods that come pre-seasoned, providing numerous ingredients in a single product. By strategically looking for flavored and seasoned vegetables, legumes, or meats, you're already closer to a simple yet flavorful meal.  For example, you could buy fire-roasted tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes and green chilies instead of a simple can of crushed tomatoes to add a more flavorful profile to a plate of scrambled eggs or Shakshuka.

The same goes for packaged meats; breaded, seasoned, or pre-marinated meat is much more flavorful than its simple, unseasoned counterpart and saves you the trouble of buying a bunch of spices or making a marinade or rub from scratch. Even if you don't want to season vegetables, you could look for a bag of mixed frozen vegetables to diversify a meal. Meanwhile, pre-made sauces, spice pastes, bouillon cubes, dips, and spreads are all singular products full of numerous flavorful ingredients that will instantly transform noodles, rice, bread, or potatoes into a gourmet meal.

Ideas for minimalist meals

By using canned, frozen, and pre-packaged foods with multiple ingredients built-in, you'll open a world of possibilities for building quick, easy, minimal-ingredient meals. Curry paste is one of the best weapons to add flavor with a single ingredient; you can make a tasty, rich stew in minutes by combining curry paste with a can of coconut milk and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Another flavorful line of products is pre-made spreads and marinated vegetables. Consider, for example, toasting pita rounds topped with pre-made pesto and marinated roasted red peppers for an easy flatbread.

Sausages and chorizo are two types of prepared meats that are easy to cook and full of numerous seasonings. A simple sheet-pan meal of chopped apples, sliced sausage, and frozen rosemary and pepper Brussels sprouts consists of only three products, and yet it's bursting with flavor. Frying chorizo with eggs and frozen hash browns would make the ultimate Mexican breakfast plate to eat with a fork or stuff inside a flour tortilla burrito-style.

If you're in the mood for a stir-fry, you can buy frozen stir-fry mixes and use them in conjunction with hoisin or pre-made teriyaki sauce for a flavorful Asian meal to serve over rice. A tasty store-bought marinara sauce is enough to dress up a bowl of spaghetti for an easy one-pot meal. You could also make a unique pasta sauce out of the flavored hummus of your choice and pasta water, topping it off with marinated artichoke hearts.