- A bag of uncooked rice is great, but cooked rice will save you on busy weeknights.
- Eggs can work in every course of every meal.
- Nutritionists have found that frozen fruits and vegetables have comparable nutrient levels with their fresh counterparts.
- Soy sauce can season anything you want it to.
If there’s one thing you learn in a professional kitchen, it’s how to think on your feet regarding ingredients. Working in a kitchen taught me to use the ingredients we already had stocked in new and creative ways in order to save time and money.
From canned tomatoes to eggs, here are 10 versatile ingredients and how best to use them.
Eggs work well by themselves or with almost any other ingredient.
Best loved for their brunch-time versatility and key roles in many of your favorite baked goods, it’s easy to forget just how good a savory frittata can be at dinner.
A fried egg can make a decent burger even better and never underestimate the power of eggs in classic sauces like bearnaise that can go with just about any protein and veggies you like. From fish or steak to asparagus, green beans, or potatoes, just a dollop can brighten your whole meal.
Read more: 11 delicious ways to eat eggs for dinner
Whole potatoes can become almost anything.
Potatoes aren’t just full of carbs; they’re also full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As registered dietitian Ryan Raman wrote for Healthline, there’s a lot of nutritional value in potato skins so keep those peels on for the biggest nutritional benefits.
Shred them into hash browns or potato pancakes, boil and mash them to make mashed potatoes, croquettes, shepherd’s pie or cut and season and bake as wedges for a healthier French fry alternative. They’re also great in soups and stews and if you’re feeling ambitious, you can always try a gnocchi or pierogi recipe.
If you want to thicken a sauce, soup, or stew without using wheat flour, just incorporate potatoes. Their starchiness will thicken your finished product by itself. Instant mashed potato flakes or potato starch can also work this way in a pinch, but you don’t need either of those potato products to do the same thing if you have whole potatoes in the house.
Canned chickpeas are a powerhouse plant protein just waiting to happen.
A good hummus recipe works as a tasty snack or small meal when paired with pitas, crackers, and veggies but crispy baked chickpeas, like these from Minimalist Baker, also make an ideal salad topping or snack. After you roast them in the oven with your favorite seasonings, they take on a delicious nutty flavor.
If you’re worried about opening a can of chickpeas but not being able to use them all in one meal, keep them refrigerated in an airtight container and throw them on top of salads.
If you’re vegan or interested in vegan baking, keep the canned chickpea liquid — called aquafaba — to whip into an airy froth in baked goods in place of egg whites. Please note that although chickpeas themselves are full of protein — 3 grams per ounce, according to Healthline — aquafaba is not.
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