Cooking School: Back-Pocket Recipes

Photo Credit: CHRISSPdotCOM via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: CHRISSPdotCOM via Compfight cc

Welcome to my Cooking School series, which is designed to share what I’ve learned as an experienced home cook with people who want to learn how to cook healthy, homemade food. If you have a topic you’d like me to address, please leave a comment!

I love to try new recipes, but we’re all busy people, so it’s nice to have some familiar recipes that you know how to make and that you know are crowd-pleasers — whether you’re cooking for your family or dinner guests.  For this latest installment of Cooking School, I thought I’d share some of the meals that I make over and over again — recipes I keep in my back pocket (or have memorized!) that I couldn’t live without.  Here are the meals that I keep in a regular rotation:



  • Chicken enchiladas (I’m usually too lazy to roll up the enchiladas, so I guess it’s really enchilada casserole.
  • Tacos – just plain ol’ ground beef with onions and taco seasoning, bowls of lettuce, tomato, cheese, beans, avocado, salsa and sour cream.  Everyone can make a taco or taco salad that suits them perfectly.
  • Stir fry (with rice or noodles) — you can mix up the flavors so much by using different sauces!  This is a great way to use up leftovers, too.
  • My go-to Sunday dinner is roast beef (I learned that one from my grandma).
  • Homemade pizza (Williams-Sonoma dough recipe, spaghetti sauce, cheese, and whatever you want for toppings)
  • Grilled chicken (make extras for salads and wraps).
  • Southwest quinoa salad

This post was inspired by a similar post from my friend AfricanKelli (check out her Top 8 meals!) and 15 Recipes Every Parent Should Know from Dinner: A Love Story.

What are your back-pocket meals?

Like what you read?  Check out some of my other Cooking School posts:

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29 thoughts on “Cooking School: Back-Pocket Recipes

    • It’s very good — whenever people say they don’t like quinoa, I force them to try this. And mostly they admit that it’s good! Rinsing then toasting the quinoa before cooking it (toasting it with a little butter — even better) seems to make a big difference.

  1. I cook new recipes most of the time but I do have a few “go-to” things for those busy weeks –
    Chicken Divan
    Crock Pot Chili (actually crock pot anything!!!)

    The funny thing is that this week I’ve made all of them – it is rare for us to have repeats but those are definitely some we do often.
    Kim recently posted…It’s the Little ThingsMy Profile

    • I’m not sure I’ve ever had Chicken Divan… do I even know what it is? Googling now…some kind of chicken and broccoli thing? It actually looks like something my picky 4yo will eat! Thanks for the idea, Kim!

    • I ate a lot of casseroles growing up too — perhaps its no surprise that I don’t make too many as an adult? I’m probably turning off my children from crockpot meals for life! LOL.

  2. I love this post! Girl, you need to make your own pizza dough ;). I love making my own pizza dough and making small cheese pizzas for the kids. J will eat a whole one. Other pocket recipes for me are fried rice (great for weekends), soy sauce braised chicken, meatballs, and salmon cakes. Oh, and quesadillas!

    • I do need to! I’ve gotten kinda lazy about it lately, plus we haven’t moved our deep freeze yet so we’re very limited on freezer space. I used to make a bunch of little crusts and parbake them so I could pull them straight from the freezer, top, and bake.

      Soy sauce braised chicken sounds yummy! Do you have a favorite recipe?

  3. I want some enchiladas now!! I must learn this recipe – without the cream of mushroom lol I’ve been avoiding those products. I believe in you Sarah, I believe you can perfect this recipe without it! 🙂 My go to dinners are always brunch related – pancakes, eggs any style, home fries are my specialty and love; Dominican staples like platanos or yuka with fried cheese.. All good – love food!! Have a great weekend Sarah! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted…Breast Cancer Awareness MonthMy Profile

    • I’ll get to work on it! I’ll have to take a picture of the recipe — my mom emailed it to me my freshman year of college, and somehow I still have that printout from 1997!
      MMM… I love brunch/breakfast for dinner! I’ve never tried yuka with fried cheese but I bet it is delicious in all it’s greasy glory.
      Hope you have a great weekend too!

    • Yes! Can’t wait to read it. And doesn’t her green chile meatloaf sound awesome? I think my goal is to get meatloaf and meatballs into my rotation more often. Everyone in my house loves them and they’re not that hard, I just never think to make them!

    • Yum, I love chicken parm, but I always think its too fiddly to make very often (all that dunking in butter and coating with breadcrumbs). But it’s really not too bad — I’ve been thinking I should try it with fish.

  4. I have a go-to breakfasts posts scheduled this week. I think it’s good to see what other people do regularly so you can either expand or switch up your repertoire.

    For a long time I forgot what it was like to feel totally lost in the kitchen. Now that I’ve remembered, it’s easier to write posts that appeal across the board. This is a great series for people just starting out in the kitchen!

    My lunch go-tos are always PB&J on whole wheat with raw veggies on the side, salads with a protein, and soup.

    Dinner-wise, my basic of basic meals are baked chicken or salmon with steamed broccoli and rice, pasta with homemade sauce and meatballs (I usually have those in the freezer), tacos, chicken enchiladas with cheese and whatever vegetable I have on hand (I always have enchilada sauce in the freezer too).
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Tales from the Commuting Crypt: Shuttle Bus ShenanigansMy Profile

  5. I just posted a new “back pocket” meal tonight! Other favorites are tacos, chili, meat loaf, and spaghetti. We’re not very adventurous! I loooooove roast beef but my husband hates it. ???
    jan recently posted…Friday Night FunMy Profile

    • Oh darn! I love roast beef too, and it makes such great leftovers. (I think the cold roast beef sandwiches are my husband’s favorite part.). I’ll definitely be checking out your recipe!

  6. We try to keep things really simple and sometimes that means not really following a lot of recipes. We make salmon and veggies every week so that is pretty “go to.” Anything the kids will eat works for me! I made a really awesome Shepherd’s Pie last week that will definitely be a go to recipe.
    Tara Newman recently posted…Meal Plan Inspiration|October 19, 2014My Profile

    • See, right there — Shepherd’s Pie. I haven’t made that in YEARS. But it’s a great idea! This is why I love the internet. =)
      It’s so great when you’ve made something so many times that you can really make it your own and not even have to follow a recipe anymore.

  7. Pingback: Simply Supper – Artisan Favorites | Amy Artisan

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