What’s Your “Go To” Meal?

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on March 31, 2009

Ever had one of those days that included a really early morning appointment and a really late afternoon nap???  Like when you wake up from your nap at nearly 5 pm and dinner is usually on the stove by now.  But cooking is the last thing on your nap-induced foggy brain!  Got to toss that meal plan out the window because spaghetti and meatballs just sounds to difficult to make on a day like today. 

What to do…what to do???  Take out would be a nice option…for at least 4 times the cost of one of our regular dinners.  So let’s toss that idea out before it actually becomes a reality.  Tempting, it is!!!  (Notice: The title is “go to,” NOT “to go” meal!)

My “go to” meal (for today anyways)…breakfast for dinner.  I whipped out some scrambled eggs with toast and fruit.  Easily comes in under $5.

What is your “go to” meal???

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather @ Not a DIY Life March 31, 2009 at 5:01 pm

My go-to meal is always spaghetti with meatless sauce. Yes, I use jarred sauce. I stock up when it’s on sale and it’s always in my pantry.

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Meshellyn March 31, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Our go-to meal is also spaghetti, but with ground beef. We always have a jar of sauce and noodles in our pantry just waiting for those nights.

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jen March 31, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Yes, any kind of breakfast! Pancakes and french toast are two other favorites. Sandwiches are good, and if I have any kind of meat defrosted and it’s not the dead of winter, throwing that on the grill and combining with some frozen veg is very easy.

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PamperingBeki March 31, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Burritos!

1 can (fat free) refried beans
1 can chili beans
1 cup cooked instant rice
salsa
seasonings (cumin, chili powder, garlic, taco seasoning)

Add in ground cooked hamburger, if I have it on hand. Mix it up, heat it on the stove, then roll it in tortillas with cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and whatever else I can find.

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Mike March 31, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Frozen pizza with veggies that were laying around. We also usually have a lasagna frozen or frozen enchilada platter in the deep freeze

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Caitlin March 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Cheese quesadillas with salsa and soup from the freezer.

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Jill March 31, 2009 at 5:39 pm

breakfast is also my go to meal! Its so easy to whip up some pancakes and eggs…or bacon, eggs and toast…

I’m also a fan of soup and a sandwich. Since it’s just hubs and I, one can of soup does it…so it’s a pretty easy way to grab a quick supper without breaking the bank!

MoneySavinDiva

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Tracy Stiegler March 31, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Our go-to meal is what I call “polenta caprese with sausage”. It started as being a compilation of things I had left over…and now it is a family staple..one pot, super healthy! (i linked to it here for you!)

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Jill March 31, 2009 at 6:00 pm

My go to meal is typically Chicken Parmesan. I always have chicken, a jar of spag. sauce, bread crumbs and noodles. Throw in some steamed veggies and you are good to go!

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Katrina March 31, 2009 at 6:01 pm

I second spaghetti, it’s so handy. I make oven spaghetti since I cook ahead only twice a week and it seems to store better this way. Amazingly it reheats very well too.

I am a big fan of baked beans made on the stovetop and mashed potatoes to go with them. It’s very easy and quick.

Kat

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amyd76 March 31, 2009 at 6:11 pm

My go-to is breakfast also. I always have a bag of Bob’s Red Mill 10 grain pancake mix in the freezer.

Pancakes and Eggs

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Kathleen Johnson March 31, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Tuna noodle casserole or macaroni and cheese are what I usually “go to”. Just last night had to go to tuna noodle casserole instead of pizza when youngest son decided to switch nights for his gymanstics practice. I can have it on the table in about 10 minutes. Tuna, macaroni, a gluten free white sauce made with mushrooms, maybe some cream or cottage cheese if I have it, and some peas. And you’re done.

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Mama March 31, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Thinking about it, I basically have it down so the majority of my meals are “go to” meals -thanks to freezer cooking. That’s cool.

Staples though, regardless of season, are breakfast for supper and spaghetti, sounds like some common choices – also meat balls (freezer meal) or hamburgers on the grill. Those 4 meals are something my family is always excited about, no matter how often we see them, so that makes them a double good choice.

“Go to” lunches – for when we don’t have leftover and we just don’t want to look a cold sandwich in the face – chicken quesadilla’s for sure or hot dogs (which we love).

I’ve really been focusing on finding/stocking “go to” meals for one (and a kiddo) for when hubby is out of town – individual burritos, calzones, – microwave and go.

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Heather March 31, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Our go-to meal is lunch meat Philly cheesesteaks. I always have roast beef lunch meat on hand. Chop up an onion and bell pepper. Saute it all together. Throw it on bread and add whatever cheese you have lying around. That’s dinner!

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Jamie March 31, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I’m going with spaghetti as well. Sometimes with ground beef and sometimes not. I also like to make penne with spaghetti sauce and pepperoni. I then sprinkle mozz. cheese on top and brown in the oven. The kids LOVE it!! I call it pepperoni pasta and the kids come running!! Plus it’s super easy!!

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Clara March 31, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Mine is my Spanish Rice recipe:
http://sixfoodintolerance.blogspot.com/2008/08/tweaked-spanish-rice.html

It’s made from stuff that’s always in my pantry and if I have any leftover meat/veggies, they can get chopped up and thrown in too! No waste! :)

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Carolyn March 31, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Flavorful chicken – thaw chicken breasts in the microwave if you need to. Spray baking dish with Pam. Melt 1/4 c margarine in a shallow, stir in 1/4 c soy sauce. Dip chicken in margarine/soy mixture, place in pan. Sprinkle chicken with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning mix, garlic salt and paprika. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. It’s my son’s favorite dinner, and takes less than 5 minutes to get in the oven. Would easily fit into a $5 meal, too!

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Carolyn March 31, 2009 at 7:42 pm

oops, directions for flavorful chicken should say, “melt margarin in a shallow dish.” Use 1 chicken breast per person, unless you have a teenage boy in the house. Then you might need to use the whole package!

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Beth March 31, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Breakfast is always good, so is spaghetti. We also love the frozen raviolis and tortellinis on occasion (meaning when they are on sale!)

I love my pressure cooker for fast cooking. I took chicken breasts from frozen to over half cooked (140 internal temp) in about 10 minutes last Friday. After the jump start, I was able to finish them without the pressure lid. Fast, healthy, and yummy.

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Annette Burke March 31, 2009 at 8:03 pm

We have a few ‘go-to’ meals in our household. We always have the stuff for these dishes in the house.
-Spaghetti with or without meat – canned/jarred sauce
-Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup (or salad)
-Tator tot casserole (frozen tator tots, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, cheese…or you can use ground turkey and cream of chicken/mushroom). Bake the tots according to directions in a 9×13 pan, while they’re baking brown the meat and drain (if needed). Add mixture of soup and 1 soup can of water to meat, heat through. When tots are done (20 mins or so) pour the soup/meat mix over the top, top with cheese and pop back in the oven until the cheese is melted.

I’m pretty sure I can make that for $5 or less…I’ll have to pay attention next time I’m at the store.

All of the above can be whipped up in no time.

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Kristina Cant March 31, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I really don’t have a “go to” meal. We just call it a grab dinner, which means, we just grab whatever is available and easy to make, like leftovers, sandwiches, hot dogs, cereal, whatever. Everyone picks what they want. They heat it up and serve themselves.

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Georgetta March 31, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Scrambled eggs, with cheese and tomatoes, sometimes hummus.
Huevos Rancheros.
Baked eggs or eggs florentine.
I also try to always have puttanesca sauce and noodles on hand for quick meals.

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Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect March 31, 2009 at 8:19 pm

My go-to meal is a quesadilla made with refried beans, rotel and cheddar. No rotel for my daughter, though – it’s too spicy for her!

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gourmetmomma March 31, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Right now, it would be my grilled buffalo tenders. I can get the tenders thawed in less than 5 minutes, and grilled in less than 10. With a box of macaroni and cheese and some raw veggie sticks, I can do dinner in 15 minutes flat.

http://gourmetmomma.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/pubgrub-grilled-buffalo-tenders/

susan

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Erin K March 31, 2009 at 8:35 pm

We, like some of the other ladies have a handful of meals on the ready. Not all are really healthy. My family absolutely loves TV dinner type salisbury steak – you know the kind you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store – “family style”. Our grocery store charges about $2.25 for a box of six – we make two and the children have some for lunch the next day. Add rice and a frozen veggie and they are all happy (go figure-I used to apologize for feeding this to them, then found out they love it, haha). We also do nachos occasionally – another favorite. Chips, real cheese, beans and whatever else. But my favorite quickie meal is pesto chicken and pasta. We keep large bags of frozen chicken from the warehouse store, jar pesto sauce (Classico – I quit making my own because theirs is so wonderful), and pasta (regular or the higher fiber variety) on hand. We can put that together really fast and have leftovers for lunch the next day. Oh, and about half the time we add a bag of frozen broccoli to the big bowl of chicken and pasta.

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AmandaonMaui March 31, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I’m a burrito girl too, but on corn tortillas. Bean burritos are so easy. Just pop open a can of refried beans, or make your own from precooked beans from the freezer, add spices (chili powder, garlic, onion, adobo, jalapeno pepper, whatever you’re feeling), put it in a tortilla, top with salsa and wala food.

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Jackie March 31, 2009 at 9:03 pm

I can totally relate to that late afternoon nap and waking up at 5:00 to realize I didnt start dinner. On days like that, my go to meal is tuna melts. I always have the staples: tuna, mayo, bread and american cheese. Quick and simple!

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Amy March 31, 2009 at 9:09 pm

Breakfast food is what I most often go to if it’s last minute and I don’t feel like cooking. We usually do oatmeal for breakfast so we don’t do pancakes/waffles often. My current favorite go-to is pumpkin waffles. Adding a full can of pumpkin adds some nutrition and it makes quite a bit. (there is a gluten free recipe on fat free vegan site that is quite good)

Soup is my other go to. I’ll start with an onion, chop a couple potatoes and carrots, and add some frozen veggies and a few spices. I just use bouillion instead of real broth. Usually I’ll throw in some ABC rice pasta to make it more interesting for the kids.

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Caroline March 31, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I have learned to take a typical 9 x 13 casserole and make two 8 x 8 and freeze one for “later”. Amazingly, later comes sooner for us!! While I don’t have the advantage of waking up at 5 pm from a nap (I have a 14, 12 and 3 year old!!), life is hectic with school and sports commitments. An 8 x 8 casserole with vegie and salad easily feeds us, and I can pull one out of the fridge last minute and bake for “those” nights.

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Erin April 1, 2009 at 5:29 am

VERY smart Caroline! I just might start doing this too :)

Erin

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Jami April 1, 2009 at 12:15 am

I see burritos, quesadillas, and nachos, but not our family’s favorite: soft tacos. In 15 to 20 minutes we’ve got a dinner of make-your-own tacos. I just heat beans and tortillas, brown some ground turkey, shred cheese, chop lettuce and put them on the table with salsa and sour cream – maybe a few chips if we have them. We all love them and could probably eat them a couple times a week!

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Stephanie April 1, 2009 at 6:59 am

Cheeseburger Noodles is our Go To meal and has been since I was a child in the – ahem – ’70s. I love it too because there are less than 5 ingredients which always makes me happy:
1 lb of hamburger – brown in skillet
2/3 box of pasta, cooked [rotini or elbows work best, but go with your fav]
can of tomato soup
shredded cheese
Once hamburger and pasta are cooked, combine in a casserole with tomato soup. Top with cheese and pop into the oven at 350 until cheese is melted. Fun for the family from toddlers to adults.

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Jodi April 1, 2009 at 7:17 am

our go-to meal is Stove-Top Chicken and Rice Casserole.

1 can chicken
1 cup of rice
2 cups water
1 cup frozen veggies
1 can cream of chicken soup.

throw everything in a pot and let it cook until obsorbed by the rice. it’s a lot easier and faster than baking it in the oven.

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Kristen April 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

Our go to meal is usually spagetti with just sauce. We make homemade garlic bread as well. Once in awhile it is pancakes and eggs. I usually have the ingredients needed for either of these meals on hand at all times.

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Jenelle April 1, 2009 at 11:37 am

My favorite go to meal? Telling hubby I’m to tired to deal with dinner and can he please make something. :)

We are shot on time most nights of the week. I get home from work around 6:00 and twice a week hubby has a 7:00 marketing call, so I’ve got one hour to get dinner cooked and eaten. So I do a lot of make ahead dinners on Sundays. Soups, stews, chili all re-warm well. I’ll also make beans for bean burritos ahead of time.

In a pinch we can pull dinner from the freezer, or other left overs. Also pasta tossed with what ever veggies I happen to have lying around, olive oil and parm cheese.

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Terra April 1, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Besides the very popular spaghetti, my go-to meal would have to be hotdogs. I always keep a can of hotdog sauce around and I usually buy hotdogs on sale and stock up in the freezer. Then I just boil them and they’re ready to go. I also usually have some type of bread around the house if not hotdog buns and there’s always cheese!

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jess April 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm

Here are our favorites:

STIRFRY, whatever veggies I have lying around ( or frozen in a pinch) plus instant rice if we have any chicken or ham already cooked we add it, if not a can of kidney beans works great for protein.

Bean burritos, open a can of refried beans and warm, I also dice onions and microwave them in a little olive oil for a quick fried onion type addition add cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Breakfast of course

meatless soft tacos, can of already cooked black beans add chili powder, garlic, etc

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Colleen April 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Rachael Ray’s No-Pain Lo-Mein! LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe and it’s super fast. I throw in any veggies I have on hand. Enjoy! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/no-pain-lo-mein-recipe/index.html

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Jodi April 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I like to vary my quesadillas. I like broccoli with garlic and mozzarella, pizza style with mozzarella and a bit of pasta sauce, black bean and corn with sauteed onions, or mushroom and cheddar. We are having breakfast for dinner tonight–I didn’t realize how popular it is!

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Luchen Foster April 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Here’s my go to favorites…they’re such the go to’s that my husband is pretty sick of them :)

Fake Pasta Puttanesca – 1 can of tuna in olive oil, 1 can of sliced olives (little can), 1 can of diced tomatoes, 2 garlic cloves, 1 pd of angel hair pasta and grated parmasean.

Black Bean Shrimp and String Bean stir fry – 15 frozen shrimp with the tails on, 1 bag of frozen french string beans, 2 tbsp of black bean sauce (Lee Kum Lee brand) and 2 cups of white rice.

Breakfast Pannini’s – 2 slices of bread, 1 slice of cheese, 1 fried egg, tomato slices and any type of luncheon meat I have on hand.

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Sage Mommy April 1, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Spaghetti is a hit here, too. We are flexitarians, so I usually throw diced veggies in a heated jar of sauce, serve over whole grain pasta with a little mozzarrella and/or parmesan on top. Breakfast for dinner is also popular, as are stir fries with whatever Asian sauce I have lying around. I work and go to college full time (to be a doctor) so time is always in short supply, but so is the need for a healthy, tasty, cheap supper.

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Amber from TN April 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Applesauce and carrots/dipping sauce.

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dawn April 1, 2009 at 9:36 pm

i have several:

burritos, because i always have cooked-up ground turkey, cheese, and usually tortillas in the freezer.

frozen pizza or pizza rolls. we used to have them for lunch often, but i recently banned their regular use, so they can be on hand for those days we all have.

spaghetti too, but it’s honestly quicker to thaw & season the meat for burritos than to cook the pasta.

“Mombalaya”: a dump meal made in rice cooker, involving rice, liquid, veggies and/or beans and/or meat, and spices. different every time!

lunchtime go-to’s that are great but would never make the cut for dinner.
quesadillas
BFS: Big Fat Salad!
and, of course, smoothies.

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Min April 1, 2009 at 9:59 pm

My go to meal in a hurry is Japanese curry. One package of chicken things, one brick of Japanese curry and one bag of frozen veggies over rice. Cheap, delicious and kids love it.

I get the S & B kind at the local grocery store. It is 2.99 but is enough for two meals. Last time I made it I used one dollar worth of chicken thighs, a one dollar bag of frozen veggies and 25 cents of rice.

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Sandy April 1, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Cheeseburger Macaroni. Quick, easy and inexpensive.

Prepare a box of store brand deluxe mac and cheese according to package directions, using 2/3 cup milk instead of 1/2 cup. Add 1 lb. ground beef cooked with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin. Toss in a handful of grated cheddar. Stir well. Cost: around $4. Add a can of green beans and you’re still under $5.

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Cyndi April 2, 2009 at 5:42 am

My “go to” meal usually involves a breakfast for dinner component too; an omlette, pancakes or french toast. Other easy faves include a stirfry with whatever vegetables I have on hand over rice (which I always have) or something I call chicken salsa. Basically it’s just diced raw chicken, salsa (store bought or home canned…I prefer home canned!), brown sugar and dijon mustard baken in the oven and served over rice. It’s quick, easy and really yummy!!

P.S. I love your blog. I’m going through a divorce right now and am changing my cooking style to suit one person only and to be more healthy, and I get a ton of great ideas over here! Thanks!

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Tanya April 2, 2009 at 5:50 am

My go-to meal is grilled cheeses and soup. Or chicken chili. :)

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Candace April 2, 2009 at 6:08 am

We don’t the time/energy to cook a “real” dinner, we fall back on either breakfast for dinner (french toast, fruit, bacon, and decaf coffee). My husband also has a knack for creating great toasted sandwiches using leftover meat, salad greens, veggies, and cheese.

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ynaffit April 2, 2009 at 7:17 am

My go-to meal is qusadillas. You can put ANY kind of leftovers in ‘em, add cheese, and top with another tortilla… But DH is getting sick of them!

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Andrea April 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

Macaroni and cheese, but I make it with a twist. I make one box of Kraft mac-n-cheese, add in one can of no salt added peas and one small can of VERY well drained chunk light tuna.

I always have these three items in my pantry and it’s one of the surefire ways I can get my three year old to eat protein.

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Jenna April 2, 2009 at 9:23 am

Lately ours has been Ranch-style beans with shredded cheese over rice!

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