Your Best Back-Pocket Dinner Recipes

December  6, 2014

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Your favorite go-to meals for when the going gets tough.

Peanut Stir-Fry

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It's the most wonderful, and hectic, time of the year. In between prepping for holiday gatherings, you're wisely trying to maintain some sanity in your daily life, but day-to-day duties still remain -- there are lunches to be packed and dinners to be made.

Fellowfoodie is on the hunt for go-to recipes that she can whip up easily for dinner. Whether after a long day at the office or a long day of holiday chaos, she's looking for simple dinner ideas that don't require a whole lot of thought or effort -- just "something fresh, fast, and tasty." She asked our community on the Hotline to share some of their favorite back-pocket dinners and they provided a number of great ideas:


Tried and true: 

No recipe needed:

  • Halfpint likes to make an easy meal of cooked rice, drizzled with soy sauce and served with an over easy egg on top; or hot pasta tossed with grated cheese and crème fraîche.
  • Jenny Maria keeps it simple with tuna salad made with canned tuna fish, avocado, and a vinaigrette.
  • Baked chicken thighs are a go-to for Susan W and Leith Devine. Susan W simply seasons them with salt and pepper, sometimes tossing in chopped preserved lemon and whole garlic cloves, while Leith Devine rubs the thighs with a mix of herbs, salt, lemon zest, and olive oil, and bakes them over a bed of baby potatoes.

Scrambled Eggs

When all else fails: 

  • Hilarybee serves up scrambled eggs and buttered toast. "If I'm really ambitious, dressed greens for balance."

What's your favorite back-pocket dinner? Tell us in the comments or join in the conversation over on the Hotline!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lesley Simpson
    Lesley Simpson
  • Doug R.
    Doug R.
  • pjcamp
  • Jeanne Long
    Jeanne Long
  • CanadaDan
Sheela Prakash is a food and wine writer, recipe developer, and the author of Salad Seasons: Vegetable-Forward Dishes All Year and Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. Her writing and recipes can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Kitchn, Epicurious, Food52, Serious Eats, Tasting Table, The Splendid Table, Simply Recipes, Culture Cheese Magazine, Clean Plates, and Slow Food USA. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy, holds Level 2 and Level 3 Awards in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), graduated from New York University's Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, and is also a Registered Dietitian.


Lesley S. September 25, 2015
I am here to defend the art of the impromptu sandwich. I try to keep roasted peppers and/or caramelized onions lounging in my fridge. Then just toast bread and add whatever you have around: slices of tomatoes/cheese/lonely dips and voila! you have a simple dinner and you're cleaning out the fridge simultaneously. Fave combo: avocado, lime juice, lettuce, roasted peppers, blackened jalapeños, and sliced cheese! I now stock Food52's fig/olive tapenade as a staple. I call these things culinary insurance.
Doug R. September 25, 2015
Puttanesca is one of our family go-to's.
pjcamp February 2, 2015
So many pastas!

How about some stuff that doesn't involve loading up on the carbs? Looking for ideas.
Kenn February 15, 2015
One of my go-to, instant meals is a frittata or a quiche. You can throw just about anything in: leftover veggies, sautéed onions, bacon, just about any cheese, potatoes, fresh or dried herbs, cooked greens, etc. Bakes up rich, delish, and satisfying every time (and you can go all egg white, too, if you're looking to cut calories not just carbs).
Jeanne L. December 12, 2014
Homemade pizza dough drizzled with EVOO garlic and red pepper then topped with any lftovr veggies, cheese or meats like andouille sausage (always in the back of the freezer).
CanadaDan December 8, 2014
pasta putanesca! it uses all ingredients that last so long in the fridge...anchovies,olives, garlic, cherry tomatoes (maybe to a lesser extent). olive oil, toss with whatever fresh herbs you have (basil? oregano? parsley?) red chili flakes and some parmesan that i keep in my freezer. super easy, healthy...
Kelli H. December 7, 2014
we call in cabinet scrapings dinner, but it usually comes from the fridge. any leftover meats and veggies tossed in a pan with butter and some spice over pasta or rice. it's always good and always fast and uses up all those little jars of leftover bits and bites
Rinchen December 7, 2014
Chicken adobo has chicken, garlic, ACV, and soy sauce.
boulangere December 7, 2014
Thank you @inpatskitchen for the mention of . Very kind of you. And still one my favorites, too.
inpatskitchen December 7, 2014
I keep waiting for some well deserved recognition of this wonderful recipe! Wildcard?? Winner Winner Tuna Dinner?? This is one of my favorite recipes on the site!
Bevi December 7, 2014
I concur, IPK. First Night in Florence is a beautiful and delicious dish.
Annie S. December 6, 2014
My daughters helped out with weeknight meals starting around age 9. They had basic skills because they always helped in the kitchen. We went over cookbooks and they chose what they would make that week. A favorite was," Company Rice and Beans " ,from Jane Brody's Good Food Book. It comes together in 20 minutes from mostly pantry ingredients. It is a veggie ,beany,sauce over brown rice and is topped with cheese. They are moms now and this dish , in some form , lives on!
zora December 6, 2014
When I'm completely at a loss for time or ingredients, I make a frittata. I always have eggs and cheese, onions and garlic in the house. Whatever other veg I can come up with gets sauteed with the alliums, eggs poured over, cheese grated on top. Served with bread, salsa. Done