We’ve all been there. Whether we were too distracted with work, or had another late night, it’s usually not great to forget to eat! That’s when our favorite go-to quick meals come to the rescue.
This week, we talked to some of our foodie Chime members to ask about their best quick and easy meals to prepare—dishes that will satisfy and won’t break the bank!
1. Ramen + Stir-fry 🍜
Chime member Cellin, a Director based in Venice, has a unique perspective on comfort foods. Growing up in Japan means that his tastes were heavily influenced by the culture, so it’s no surprise that Japanese food was in his top 3 easy meals. “I’m kind of famous for my stir-fry ramen dish,” he jokes, and we don’t doubt it!
It sounds delicious. The best part about stir-fry is that you can put whatever you have in your fridge in the pot, and it’ll always come out perfect. For Cellin, it’s usually cabbage, green beans, ground pork or turkey, bok choy, and mushrooms. It just goes to show that stir-fry works with any ingredient, and for Cellin, he takes it one step further.
“I throw that all on top of ramen and everyone thinks it’s amazing.” he tells us, because that way, “no one judges you on how banal your ramen is.” Ramen will never be banal or boring to us, but we love the innovation!
2. “Fancy” Pasta Noodles 🍝
Of course, Cellin doesn’t only eat stir-fry. He told us that his favorite food “changes every week”, but a staple will always be mentaiko pasta, a Japanese fusion pasta made with cream and spicy cod roe. He told us that he makes it at home as often as he can, and is even trying to convince a restaurateur friend to add it to the menu!
Of course, we get that spicy cod roe might be a difficult ingredient to source, but the spirit of Cellin’s answer is still applicable. Pasta noodles are one of the easiest dishes to make, and you can dress it up with anything you have in the pantry. Jarred pasta sauce, pesto, or even butter and parmesan can create a new dish that you might love. Take a note from Cellin, and get adventurous with your flavors—you never know when you might taste something you love!
🔥 Pro-tip: This works with any kind of pasta in your house. Ran out of spaghetti? Open up a ramen packet and discard the seasoning, boil to instructions, and use the pasta sauce you intended to use. The kitchen is your playground!
3. Fried Rice 🥡
And of course, we can’t talk about easy meals without talking about the reigning champion of reviving leftovers from takeout. “I like all kinds of fried rice.” Cellin says, because “fried rice is the best way to bring leftovers back and not to have to throw it out.”
Fried rice, much like stir-fry, can also be elevated with a few simple sauces and proteins. Have eggs in the fridge? What about bacon, sausage, or ground meats? Brown it up and toss it in! Add in veggies for a pop of color (and for health reasons) and season generously with soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. Your tastebuds will thank you!
🔥 Pro-tip: Fried rice is also a dish that keeps in your fridge well. If you have a lot of rice, make it all at once to give your leftovers new life. Microwaved fried rice tastes just as yummy!
4. Pressure Cooker/ Instant Pot Meals 🍲
When we asked Matt, an Electrician based in Morro Bay, about his favorite dish, his response was instant. “Santa Maria tri-tip for sure.” Growing up in the Santa Maria area, he used to grill their famous tri-tip with his father, and still has a fondness for his favorite childhood meal.
Of course, grilling fresh meats isn’t exactly a quick affair, so for Matt, he saves that for special occasions. For a hot and quick meal, he usually meal preps with easy pressure cooker meals. “I can make dinner and then have my next couple days of lunches, all sorted.” Matt also gets creative with his meals here, because of how versatile a pressure cooker is. From chili, to pork roast, to “a whole chicken,” he uses what he has and always comes out the other side with a delicious meal.
🔥 Pro-tip: The fastest way to get fall-off-the-bone tender meat is with a pressure cooker, so if you don’t want to splurge on a fancy Instant Pot, go old-school! It won’t disappoint.
5. Breakfast for Dinner 🍳
On those days when all you have in your fridge is eggs and some sort of carb, Matt recommends the classic breakfast for dinner. “It’s definitely a good way to go if you’re trying to whip something up real quick,” and we agree! Breakfast for dinner can be a fun, easy, and affordable way to zhuzh up a regular weeknight meal, and with some extra ~spice~, your eggs and toast will look like a feast.
First, consider your typical breakfast food. For eggs, try poaching or soft boiling them for a perfectly set egg white and runny yolk! Season with something unconventional—maybe a cajun seasoning or a chili-lime salt. For whatever carbs you have, toast it in some butter and top with your egg. If you have any veggies like tomatoes or avocados, now’s the time to use it. Drizzle some staple fridge sauces, like salsa or even green goddess sauce, over the top, and you have a breakfast toast worthy of royalty.
6. Order Out (As a Last Resort) 📱
Of course, we understand that sometimes it’s just impossible to make a home-cooked dish. In these cases, we free you from the guilt of ordering food. Both Matt and Cellin made great points when they told us about their ordering-out habits.
First, try to order locally. Stay away from fast foods and discover what local restaurants are serving in your area! Who knows, you might just find your new favorite Mexican spot. Second, order the foods that you usually wouldn’t try to make at home! Cellin loves to order Indian food, because while he probably could make it, it would be difficult to source all the different spices and ingredients that are typically found in Indian cuisine.
By using this opportunity to try other dishes, you’re opening yourself up to a whole world of delicious flavors.
Dining Delights 🍥
We get it, you’re not going to be cooking up Michelin star meals at 11pm at night, but eating something hot and fresh from your own kitchen will always come with a certain satisfaction. Matt said it best. “If I’m able to make dishes myself, then yeah, I feel much better about it.” because at the end of the day, you’re taking care of yourself, and that’s something worth celebrating. 💚
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