The only thing we like more than delicious is effortless—and OK, affordable is a major bonus. These easy 5 ingredient recipe ideas prove you don’t have to choose when it comes to cheap and easy dinner.
Please believe me when I say I understand how tempting and easy it is to way, way overdo it in the keeping your kitchen stocked department. I might even pass for a minimalist were you not to take a peek in my cupboards and refrigerator, at which point the cat is very much out of the bag. Hi, my name is Maryse and I’m addicted to buying more groceries and kitchen supplies than a single person could ever possibly need.
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In an attempt to try and get a handle on this little problem, I’ve recently taken up challenging myself to make meals that skimp on the surplus without sacrificing quality or flavor. And, as it turns out, there are plenty of dishes in which five ingredients are all you need to make a totally top-notch dinner. (For the record, I don’t count staples like salt and pepper or cooking fats like oil and butter as ingredients, those are just necessities of life.)
Check out some of our favorites, and we’ll bet you have most of these ingredients on hand already.
I’m a big fan of dishes that make cooking cheap and easy without tasting cheap and easy. Case in point: classic Italian risotto. Five basic ingredients—rice, chicken broth, onion, a little white wine, and grated parmesan—plus a good, strong stirring arm are all it takes to treat yourself to a luxury-grade dining experience. This lusciously creamy, cheesy dish is the definition of restrained elegance (basically a rice version of the equally awesome Cacio e Pepe pasta), and a hearty, filling meal at that. And this is only the blank canvas version; imagine the possibilities on those nights when you get to splurge for six, seven, or even eight ingredients. Get our Basic Risotto recipe.
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Frozen peas show off their prime time potential in this bright, mind-blowingly easy vegetarian soup. As is the case with any successful minimalist meal, the key is being smart about selecting supporting characters; you’re casting for function and flavor. Here, thyme packs a punch of bold, bright freshness to complement the sweet peas. Get our Hearty Split Pea Soup recipe.
I can’t think of a better ingredient duo to carry a small team to victory than butter and garlic. The powerhouse pair are basically the culinary equivalent of having a really great dance partner, they make whoever they’re paired with 10 times better. In this recipe, for example, they’re the Johnny to shrimp’s Baby, lifting the shellfish up to delectable heights. Serve over rice or tossed with pasta. Get our Shrimp Scampi recipe.
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Now that summer’s officially in the books we can return to some of our favorite fall and winter foods that tend not to be as coveted in those hot sweaty months. Fettucine alfredo is one of them and though it’s earned a bit of a bad reputation, a good homemade sauce with real cream and good parmesan is fabulous weeknight meal. Get out Fettucine Alfredo recipe.
It’s definitely tomato soup season but keep things interesting with a little red pepper and don’t skimp on the olive oil (or use the cheap stuff, either). Serve with grilled cheese or garlic bread. All. Winter. Long. Get our Spicy Tomato Soup recipe.
If you don’t think twice baked potatoes can make a meal then think again. Use thick-cut bacon, and add broccoli or top with leftover chili and you’re in business with a warming, easy meal that everyone loves. Get our Twice Baked Potato recipe.
Related Reading: This Baked Potato Bar Will Give You Even More Ideas
There is nothing hellish about yolky baked eggs in a juicy, chunky, red pepper-flecked tomato sauce. Trust. Sop it all up with a fat, crusty piece of toast (seasoned with garlic and olive oil for extra dramatic effect) and really savor the sin of this perfect breakfast-anytime dish. Get our Eggs in Purgatory recipe. (And don’t sleep on its close cousin, shakshuka!)