Fast Foods + Pantry Essentials = Skillet Meals

Summer is here! We traveled over Memorial Day and we are off to Chicago this weekend, so the past few weeks have been super busy and I have relied on my freezer and pantry for fast meals. By the end of last week were completely out of food! No kidding, the fridge and freezer were pretty bare. I got through the past couple of weeks with "skillet meals".Skillet meals are one of my simple, go-to meals that I can throw together in a pinch. The cooking technique used in a skillet meal is sauteeing. And the ingredients are mix-and-match. You can do it with whatever you have available. Here's the basic formula and a couple meal ideas.Tools

  • Large frying pan
  • Mixing spoon or spatula
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Stove


  • A bit of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 parts vegetables, fresh or frozen, in bite size pieces, aim for color
  • 1 part carbohydrate-rich food, such as cooked quinoa, millet or brown rice, cubed sweet potatoes, red potatoes or butternut squash, corn, peas, beans or lentils
  • Flavor + Binder (something tasty to hold it all together), such as pesto, salsa, marinara, plain yogurt, broth or vinaigrette
  • Seasonings, such as onion, garlic, herbs, spices, salt and pepper.


  1. Place skillet or sauce pan on the stove over medium high heat.
  2. Coat the bottom of the pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Add minced garlic and diced onion if using.
  3. When oil is warm, and the garlic and onion are sizzling, add the protein-rich food. When this is cooked through, add the veggies and then the carbohydrate-rich food. Add the flavor + binder that you are using and then season to taste with herbs, spices, salt and pepper.
  4. Mix it all up and keep moving it around until combined. Serve when cooked through and warm. You can also throw it in a large rectangular baking dish, sprinkle some chopped fresh herbs on top and bake as a casserole.
  5. Serve with a colorful salad!

Here are a few ideas:Pesto Chicken and Lentils

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Lentils, canned or dried (I had some cooked and frozen that I used)
  • Quinoa, cooked
  • Frozen corn
  • Pesto

Saute the chicken with olive oil until mostly cooked through.Add the lentils, quinoa and corn. Mix it all up.Add the pesto and mix until combined.I didn't have any good veggies on hand for this meal, so I just served it with an extra big salad. I know that these meals don't always look like much, that's why the color of the veggies is so important.Trust me though, with fresh basil grown by my Dad and picked by my Mom, this basil skillet meal was superb!Chicken Sausage, Broccoli and Lentils Skillet

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups lentils, cooked, from dried or canned
  • 1 pound chicken sausage, I used Trader Joe's precooked chicken sausage

Coat a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Add broccoli florets and cubed potatoes. Add little bit of water or broth to "steam" the broccoli and potatoes. Cover the skillet and let the broccoli cook until bright green and the potatoes are soft. Add lentils and diced chicken sausage. Mix together. Season with granulated garlic and black pepper. We were out of salad fixins', so I served this with cut up tomatoes and cucumber.Cumin Black Beans and Corn with Southwest Seasoned FishThis isn't exactly a skillet meal, but it uses all freezer and pantry items, so I classify it as one of my "pantry meals".The Corn and Beans: mix the ingredients up in a big bowl and heat in microwave or on stove or serve cold.

  • Olive oil
  • Canned black beans
  • Frozen corn
  • Canned organic diced tomatoes with Adobo Seasoning
  • Lime juice
  • Cumin seeds or ground cumin
The Fish: Place frozen fish fillets in sauté pan, cover with broth and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of seasoning blend. Bring broth to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer until fish flake easily. Add more seasoning blend after the fish is cooked if desired.
  • Frozen fish fillets
  • Vegetable broth
  • Taco seasoning blend-Frontier from Sunflower is gluten-free

What do you keep in your pantry, fridge and freezer? Could you throw together a meal in just a few minutes? I'll post a Pantry Essentials list next week so that you can get a sneak-peak into my pantry.Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.