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262: Five Ingredient Dinners for Fall

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Easy Dinners, What to Eat

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These five-ingredient dinners for fall are the meals we turn to when we want delicious, easy autumn eating during the hectic back-to-school and fall sports season.

— See below for a full transcript —

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Episode Transcript

Welcome to Didn’t I Just Feed You, a podcast about feeding kids.

Hi, I’m Stacie and I’m Meghan. This summer we did an episode on five ingredient dinners for summer and y’all told us loud and clear, like I can’t even tell you the number of emails, Instagram DMs, comments in our community that you want more episodes just like it. So we’re back with five ingredient dinner ideas for fall.

You said we’re back, so jauntily, we’re back. I was like, we’re back, we’re back. Meghan, I’m pretty sure that you set the parameters for the last five ingredient dinner episode. So let’s refresh. Everyone’s memory about what we really mean when we say five ingredients.

Also, don’t at us like seven ingredients, but the two extra are oil and salt.

Yes. We’re going to get real close every time. Right? Yes. Cause we’re not counting basics like oil, salt. pepper. We’re allowing for a few additional ingredients, things like spices. We’ll mention when you can make easy swaps if what we’re calling for is possibly something you don’t have on hand, but we think that there’s something else that you might definitely have on hand.

So like, it’s a little bit loose. It’s a tiny bit loosey goosey, right?

I will never agree to that! No, no, like it’s not going to be five – ha! Yes, we have some grace for ourselves. And in the effort to always make dinners tastier, like that’s the objective here. We’re not going to try to like throw in an extra ingredient just for heft or just for fun or to look pretty or something. It’s definitely all about flavor.


And also I just want, because we’re also really serious about delivering on our titles, delivering on what we promise, because we hate when they’re like five ingredient dinners. And then it’s so loosey goosey that you’re like, Oh my God, give me a break.

Even when there not exactly five ingredients, we really, truly feel like these ideas fit the bill, but, again, don’t at us if it’s a little extra with salt, pepper, that kind of thing.

Right? Maybe it will, maybe some flour, some pantry staples that we think are essential anyways.

Okay. So I need to know before we dive into ideas, how do you feel your cooking changes from like when we did five ingredients, summer dinners, and we could throw, it could be like tomato toast. It was a lot of like fresh things, then moving to fall flavors, but also fall cooking, which I think of as like a little bit cozier, a little bit slower in general, like what changes for you?

Kind of a lot actually, when you think about it, I feel like it’s a big jump from five ingredient summer dinners versus the jump from. Fall to winter. Yeah, the jump from fall to winter is pretty small. The jump from summer to fall is pretty big I’m changing the ingredients, right? That’s pretty obvious and essential but the ingredients require a really different kind of cooking, right? You’re talking about squash, you’re talking about grains.

You’re talking about, you know, vegetables, maybe more meat, maybe more I use a lot of beans in the summer too, actually. I guess the real big differentiator as I’m working it through is that vegetables that I use in fall and then into winter require a heavier hand. They require slower cooking. It’s not just that I’m like cozy vibes home with my pumpkin spice latte wanting to like sit by my oven with a book.

You never in your life are sitting with a pumpkin spice latte. That’s true. I don’t like pumpkin spice latte. It’s so true. It’s so true. But anyway,

you know what I mean? Like it’s a vibe, but it’s like, it’s actually out of necessity. Like squash requires longer cooking. Whereas a fresh summer squash, you can just shave with mandolin and serve raw.

You know, tomatoes aren’t as good anymore. We want to roast them or we want to slow cook them in a pan and let them release their juices and. We want to eek out, urge all those sugars and that sweetness to come out, whereas in summer you just slice them up and that’s that. So yeah, I don’t know. Do you feel like there’s anything you want to add or anything different about the way you cook in the fall versus summer?

I think a big one is flavors. I mean, I think that seems sort of obvious based on what you’re saying, but I think of summer flavoring as being like lots of brightness. I’m more likely to reach for citrus juice. That’s not necessarily true, but like vinegars and just brightening up the natural tastes of things like fresh tomatoes and even corn and zucchini versus wanting to use more like warming spices, nutty spices.

I also use a little bit more butter and cream and cheese in the fall.

That’s so interesting.

Yeah. As far as like things that amp up the flavors, because in some ways you could take something like a salsa chicken that you make in the summer and you’re like making it with fresh tomatoes, maybe, and like fresh cilantro. And then in this, the winter change that flavor profile a little bit to include like a little bit more. smoked paprika or some other smoky element to it and add like more depth of flavor.

I’m so fascinated by this because everything you’re saying I agree with and I do to a certain extent, but I actually don’t like I would make my salsa chicken the same way each time. I think the difference would not be what spices I use as much as putting the salsa chicken on: a bowl of rice with fresh corn shaved on top as opposed to wrapping it in enchiladas and dousing it with enchilada sauce and cheese.

But see, that’s the same concept.

Yeah, it is. But there’s something a little different because I wouldn’t change what I’m putting into the salsa chicken, like from paprika to something else. Like, I don’t think I change my flavor profiles as much, but I change the application a little bit.

Yeah. Yeah.

I mean, and that’s what you’re talking about, the difference between summer produce and fall produce too. But I am fascinated by your concept of like actually changing the flavor profile a little bit. Like I think I use all my spices equally the same way across seasons.

I would say too. But then there’s also a thing that happens where. Especially if we have sort of like a roster of recipes that we’re cooking in the summer. Like everyone can get bored with those. And so maybe it is not even just like changing from red salsa to salsa verde from summer to fall.

But it’s like instead of doing pulled chicken, that’s salsa chicken for summertime salads and bowls. It’s like moving to like. Buffalo chicken so that we can have like a creamy, again, cause we can add butter to the Buffalo sauce, like a creamy dressing. So it’s sort of taking the same concept cause it’s footballs and just switching them up.

Listen, are you a football fan?

We can’t get into the Taylor and Travis thing! Okay.

Anyways, before we do get into actual meal ideas, because I think we might be jumping off here with the salsa chicken concept, and I already gave away the buffalo chicken idea.

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So let’s talk to you about it.

Okay. Let’s start with I mentioned Buffalo chicken as an alternative to salsa chicken, but I also mentioned and stand by my recommendation of like doing a salsa Verde sort of chicken as well.

Yeah. Yummy. You’re the chicken lady, but I have another chicken thought, which is do it, which is butter chicken, butter chicken is not something I would eat in the summer. And I, and when I say butter chicken in the slow cooker, or you could do that in the instant pot as well. I’m thinking like you buy a jar of butter chicken sauce and like cook that along with cute chicken breasts in the slow cooker. And then the rest of the meal gets filled out with like rice and veg.

That is my jam. I love that. And actually I have to tell you, I’m sitting here trying to do math quickly and it’s just the, the gears are not turning, but I would definitely say that there are some great brands out there.

If you wanted to save a little money and you had a little bit of time, I’m feeling like you might even be able to whip up something butter chicken adjacent without even a jar of sauce. Like if you did garlic, ginger, cubed chicken breast, oil, salt, okay, then a bunch of spices and I’m going to make, I’m going to count this as one bunch of spices, tomato paste and coconut cream. And you can have a really nice slow cooker curry. So that’s six when we didn’t count salt, pepper, or oil at all. And when I counted the spices as one, so it would really depend on like, if you have the spices around, but you could do cumin, paprika. Curry powder. Like it wouldn’t take a lot. Coriander. Okay.

But you’re already at six ingredients and there’s no like rice or non or anything to eat with it.

Oh, that’s okay. So you’re counting that too?


To make it a meal, right? Yeah. Sorry, Billis.

That’s fine. But we’ll link to an easy butter chicken recipe because it is the kind of thing where if you just have a well stocked spice cabinet, you could throw it together and it wouldn’t, it would be so easy.

Okay. So then let me go with something that I am excited to make and I made a lot last year, Harissa chicken, where you can buy a jar of Harissa and chicken breasts. Then shred it. And then that’s just two ingredients. If you want to embellish, you know, you can add a little fresh garlic, a little fresh onion, whatever you want. And then again, rice or nan bread, uh, a little yogurt on top and a squeeze of like lemon juice or lime juice to finish. That’s another good one in the same vein. Also carnitas.

Oh, yes. I had that on my list also.

Yeah. Instant pot carnitas. Although, you know, our recipe, I think it probably between the bay leaves, the orange, the pork, might be five ingredients before the accoutrement.

Okay. I do think you’re right. Here’s the other thing though. What if you just bought the like pre made carnitas and use that to make your tacos or bowls?

Absolutely. I also think that like, if you’re not… It doesn’t have to be carnitas, like officially guys. You could literally throw in garlic, clove, and bay leaf.

Let’s say we don’t count the spices, right? Orange juice and pork shoulder. Boom. And just cook the pork shoulder or an orange juice. Also some supermarkets will sell like a mojo marinade, that’s already like mixed. It has garlic, it has oregano, it has orange juice, it has lime juice. Get one of the, a bottle of those and put it into the slow cooker with some pork shoulder or pork butt, and that’s two ingredients.

And then again, the accoutrement tortillas or rice, sour cream. Whatever else, like sliced avocado.

I think it’s interesting. And I don’t know that we can dissect it in this episode that both of us lean towards carnitas over a salsa chicken style meal. I think maybe it’s just, we’ve, we talked about this maybe in a recent episode or the, uh, an episode over the summer where it’s like, neither of us really loved the flavor once salsa is like really cooked down and that’s, what’s really nice about the carnitas flavoring.

For pork, but you could also do a similar concept like the mojo seasoning or just doing the orange onion garlic on chicken too. If your family doesn’t love pork. I think it partly has to do with the fact that a lot of times people use chicken breast and that’s not great. Of course, you can use chicken thighs and then that is great. It’s not quite as rich with something very simple like this, that pork flavor and that pork fat really deepens the flavor of the dish without having to add much more than just salt to season the meat. So I think that’s why I might lean towards it. Also, like you said, the salsa, when it cooks down, it gets warm.

It gets super watery in a way that doesn’t kind of adhere to the meat.

Right. You almost lose the seasoning. Yes.

Yes. Totally. So there’s something about the fat on the pork that as it breaks down, it really, it not just enrichens the sauce, but it also helps the sauce grip onto the meat and you actually get the flavor more.

I love that. Uh, can we talk more about pork? Because I’m on my list doing like a pork shoulder, but with honey mustard. Oh, and I have on my list a pan seared pork chop with maple buttered apples.

Okay. I love that.

Which is probably, I would say you’re going to go a little over five cause probably five basic to get the pork, but then just roast a sweet potato.

Right. And then that’s so easy. Can I just talk about for a minute, the grip that apples plus pork chops plus like either honey or maple has on me and then you throw in some savory ingredients like some garlic and onion! I can eat that once a week the entire fall.

And you know what is my favorite? Adding a ton of black pepper to that.

Okay, ma’am.

And cider vinegar like that. Yes. Apple, pork. It’s also really great with chicken, to be honest. And then maple syrup, cider vinegar, vinegar, butter, and black pepper. Killer pan sauce. It’s like such a great combo.

My family likes pizza beans, which can be a one pot thing. And can also do them in the slow cooker. And there’s a great recipe we’ll link to on Kitchen, which is like chick canned chickpeas. And you throw that in the slow cooker. with a jar of your favorite sauce and then you top it with all the things and you can serve that like alongside pasta. I think it’s a great opportunity for special bread and I would probably put like a bag to Caesar salad next to it because that’s how we tend to eat pizza beans from the pan.

So that’s the last one I want to mention from this. So I’m gonna. Do a Greek riff on that. Okay. You know, those Gigante beans? Yes. We say Gigante, but they come canned. You can also do a version of that. Those are like one of my all time favorite Greek dishes, but just the beans, some basic tomato sauce, which you can make by just grating a tomato. If you don’t have a tomato that has enough flavor, if that’s going to be too watery, just use a can of crushed tomatoes and then like really good olive oil, onion, garlic, and a bunch of dill.

That’s really great. And like so flavorful.

It’s the same basic idea, a tomato sauce, different flavor profile than pizza tomato sauce, but it’s a tomato sauce. Nonetheless, with beans, you can add cheese. If you want, it would be feta in this case. And then like a slice of crunchy sourdough delicious.

Yeah. I just also think it’s a great time to point out that the slow cooker is great. Let me say great a hundred times for dry beans. And so if you wanted to like make a black bean soup or even like a bean based chili, you could get that started in the slow cooker with like some chicken broth, some onion, celery, carrot, and like turn that into a five ingredient meal too with something as simple as a special bread, garlic bread, naan, whatever it is.

Um, if it’s black bean, maybe you’re going cheesy chips on the side. But beans in the slow cooker is definitely a fall food for me.

I love that. And I also do a lot of this in the pan. Like you said about, um, the pizza beans that you could do it in a pan, but you can also do it in a slow cooker, but also miso coconut beans. I recently, I wish I could remember. I’ll try to track down the link, but it was big beans. Dumped into a pan that you just, you know, you sweated some onions and a little fresh garlic. And then it was the beans with the starchy sauce that they’re canned in. The starchy liquid rather dump it in and then added coconut milk and miso and then a bunch of dill and a little bit of lemon juice at the end. It looked so good. So I think this is, I think what we’re getting at is the time to get creative with beans as a main dish, because with some special bread on the side, you can really have a hearty meal. And if you keep it simple enough, this is what I ended up having to do. You’re going over a little bit, five ingredients at this point, but you can make a really simple bean dish.

And while you’re prepping it, literally take whatever sausage your family likes and put it in the oven to roast and cook through and sausage again, like literally just in the oven roasted, nothing done to it. Sausage sliced with some special bread or sourdough and beans is a meal that my family loves.

So you’ve squarely moved us into one pot slash sheet pan meals.

I’m sorry. I just did it. I clearly don’t use my instant pot. Can I jump off? Or your slow cooker.

We’ve talked about it many times in the slow cooker and instant pot episodes. Moving on. roasted chicken thighs, sweet potatoes, red onions. Uh, we eat that a lot in the, the fall. And then we serve it with like our house maple mustard, which we have a recipe for on, didn’t I just feed you. And I would serve that with dinner rolls, which is a form of special bread. Let’s be honest.

I totally agree. Obviously. I think that this is a great one. And I want to say. Here’s what I want to say.

Sweet potatoes are, I’m probably biased because my kids actually really, really like sweet potatoes. But one of the things that I love about them is that because of the way they cook, you can cook them easily in the microwave, or you can put them on a sheet pan with your protein diced up, maybe like as a sheet pan meal, or maybe you have something like sausage roasting in the oven and you literally just.

Sweet potatoes on the rack below them. They’re just so easy to cook and they cook at the same time as other things. And then like you have your veg, but the veg is also starchy and filling. It just checks so many boxes when it comes to making five ingredient meal or just like a very quick, easy, hearty meal.

You know, there are only downfalls that do take a little bit of time. Unlike, you know, a vegetable that you can serve fresh, but you know, if I. The time I save grating a zucchini for a nice fresh zucchini salad or a fennel salad, like that is just to get vegetables in my guy’s system. That’s not actually filling them up.

So you know, there’s a trade off there taking more time, but man, I serve them a sweet potato. That’s like half a meal fill in their bellies. I love it.

You mentioned the microwave, which is a really great way to jumpstart sweet potatoes. I tend to be intentional when I’m shopping for sweet potatoes and buy smaller ones in general because then they cook faster, especially if I’m just going to tuck them in the oven or what I did recently, which I loved was using the air fryer to just roast off like six small sweet potatoes.

And then we had them to eat throughout the week.

I’m so glad you mentioned the intentional choice you made with your sweet potato shape. Because I actually did this recently too. And what I chose, they like, my kids want like big sweet potatoes. They want like a big, but I get the ones that are extra long as opposed to fat because then they’re going to cook faster or you can cut them into like steak fry shape easier.

So go for the longer ones instead of the like squat, but really fat ones.

And can you, I think you can, like you can butternut squash. You can buy like pre chopped, peeled, frozen sweet potatoes, which is a great, like if you’re just going to do a sheet pan meal like this, where you’re throwing other veg and protein on the pan, that’s a great way to jumpstart that and make it even easier.

Yes. Okay. You said sausage before. What about doing sheet pan gnocchi with sausage? And you could add like mushrooms. Maybe some kale. Do a little jarred sauce.

I mean, again, this is kind of like the sweet potato conversation we’re having. That these fall veggies, I mean, you think about sausage. Okay. We have sausage counting.

No one can see me, but I’m counting potatoes or sweet potatoes, kale, mushroom, right? And then maybe you drizzle like a vinaigrette or some special sauce and have, you literally have five ingredients and there is such incredible heft and there’s such a concentration of nutritional value there. Yes. You know what I mean?

I, it just feels harder to do in the summer with summer veg to get that many hefty, hearty, really nutritious vegetables into one meal.

Yeah. I’m also just not wanting to have my oven on long enough for sheet pan meals in the summer. Oh, totally. Totally. Um, but the question with this, because we wouldn’t be asked if we didn’t ask it is, I’m sure that sounds delicious to so many of our listeners, but are their kids, what are their kids going to eat?

Are their kids just going to pick out the gnocchi and the sausage? Um, probably. And that’s fine. I mean, I would just say to make sure that you have at least one vegetable there that your kid likes. If your kid likes even one vegetable. Yeah.

Sometimes they don’t. The thing is my kids love potatoes, whether they’re red potatoes or sweet potatoes.

So I think of that as like getting in there veg, but also you could choose one of those sausages that has some veg incorporated. That’s a good call. Yeah. So then it’s maybe a little less obvious. You could swap the kale for green beans or some other quick cooking green veg, just whatever works for your family.

I think it’s a basic concept and you can swap out whatever. feels good to your family.

And related to that, Eric Kim, one of our former guests, New York Times food writer, cookbook author, has a recipe that we all love for sheet pan bibimbap on New York Times. We’ll link to it. I think his version calls for more than five recipes, but the premise, it’s like the same thing we’re talking about with the sheet pan gnocchi.

It’s kind of like sheet pan gnocchi meal, but with rice, right? Where you have cooked rice. And while the rice is cooking, you’re preheating a sheet pan in your oven and then you pull it out. You sprinkle a little, you know, you drizzle a little olive oil on top and then you press the rice down on it and put it back in the oven so one side of the rice crisps up.

And at the same time, you’re just crisping up a bunch of veggies. I think he calls for mushrooms and kale, but you can do whatever you want. And then, um, serve that with like some premade kimchi or a little gochujang. Something like that. And it’s delish.

Kimchi unlocked our kielbasa and cabbage sheep hand meal that we made.

Was that two years ago? And it’s still a favorite. There is a little like creamy mustard sauce that might take you over five ingredients, but it would be well worth it. I’m just something

I don’t know if this is a meal for everyone. I’m just going to be honest. This is something I sometimes make for myself, like if everyone else is out doing something or like to have for lunches, but you can make a super easy pumpkin soup using canned pumpkin. broth. You grate an onion and then you can add whatever spices you like.

They, you know, smoke, smoked paprika, maybe a little bit of cinnamon. You could even go onion, garlic, and ginger powder in there. And then you can serve it with bread and put like some crispy pepitas on top of it. I know this is soup that would not fill up Stacey’s boys. So that’s what made me feel self conscious about putting it on the list.

But I felt like it was worth mentioning because don’t you remember that I turned the corner and now I’m a soup girly.

You might be a soup girly. But it is the rest of the fam?

Yeah, no, I think it’s a great question. I think that, you know, for me, even the simplest, most delicious soup, which I have some ideas as well, wouldn’t technically qualify as a five ingredient dinner for my family because it’s pretty hard to make a soup with.

Fewer than three to five ingredients is as minimal as it gets because you have broth, you have, you could do a three or four ingredient soup, but anyway, the soup itself would be five ingredients. And then I would definitely have to add bread and something else. So either a big bag salad, more likely chicken tenders from the freezer or roasted sausage again, or like some sort of animal protein.

And there are lots of options that I could use that wouldn’t require prep or multiple ingredients, but I definitely would have to add something else.

I wouldn’t be mad about having roasted sausage on the side of the soup at all. Yeah. Right.

And my kids actually do like soup, but it, I mean, here’s the other tricky thing with soup is that we could tell you it’s a five ingredient soup and you can make it on Sunday.

And then on Tuesday when it’s time for dinner, Soup is one ingredient, and then it’s bread and roasted sausage, and now you have a three ingredient meal. This is such our different personalities where you’re like, the rules are not for me, they’re just for everyone else. I need to be broken a little. But I also on my site have a spiced chickpea soup and in all transparency, it is more than five ingredients, but it could easily be adjusted.

It’s two cans of chickpeas and chicken broth and a can of fire roasted tomatoes. Like that’s the base. And then the rest of it is olive oil, paprika, cumin, turmeric. You know, you’d want to add, if you really have the time, some garlic, some onion, and that’s really it. So it’s added up, but it’s really not that much when you don’t count the pantry ingredients.

Did you say fire roasted chilies?

Yeah. Fire roasted tomatoes. Okay.

No, I just want to talk about this because this is one of those things that we do intuitively, but we don’t really call out and is one of the ways that you add flavor to simple five ingredient dinners is choosing the most flavorful option.

So. fire roasted tomatoes, hatch chilies, which have a little bit more flavor to them. Things like that when you can buy them because they will add flavor when you’re doing something super simple. Like I’m going to jump off Stacie’s chickpea soup and mention, you can make a really simple chili, like a weeknight chili.

So it’s definitely not like our chili episode, slow cooked. You’re not braising the beef, but like ground meat. Canned tomatoes, you know, grab some fire roasted because that’ll add flavor. Canned beans. You could even choose flavored beans here to circumvent the rules a la Stacey. Like some spice beans, add some canned hatch chilies and make like a really great little chili that you could serve over baked potatoes.

Again, when you get into toppings for things like chili. You could really get over five ingredients, but that’s your choice.

But no, I, you know, I’m here for it. I agree. I think that would be great. And that’s just something that kids really love. That made me think of chili Mac. to make chili Mac a five ingredient. I mean, I guess you’ll need a vegetable on the side. What if we even skip the fresh onion and garlic, right? We brown meat with a whole lot of garlic powder and onion powder and some salt, a can of diced tomatoes.

Let’s use fire roasted to give it more flavor, some water, some elbows. Boom, we’re at four ingredients, right? Maybe you want to finish with a little, like a dash of cream or some shredded cheese. And then you have pasta, you have meat, and then we do green beans on the side that are steamed.

I love it. The cheesy beef and shells that I wrote for kitchen that you’ve made is sort of adjacent to that.

Yeah. Let’s share that recipe as a jumping off point because I think that that’s a good way for people to look at the technique. You really can. I mean, that recipe is great. Honestly, you’re going to see it and you’re gonna be like, okay, with two extra ingredients and it comes together so quick.

Listen, I think if like, if we’re not counting olive oil and dried spices, beef broth, shells, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, we’re at six.

Okay. And then we need a vegetable on the side.

Okay. Golly. Uh, yeah, I love it. No, but I think it counts. No. Can the tomato sauce not count?

No, I’m kidding. Such a great mention. So we will link to that recipe. Can we talk about doing like a white chicken chili and using a rotisserie chicken? Ooh, let’s talk about this.

Okay. Rotisserie chicken, canned white beans of your choice, chicken broth. canned hatch chilies, and then whatever like spices you want. Again, we’re going to go over with like toppings and adding like tortilla chips or whatever to the top, whatever spices you want. I wonder then if you add just baby spinach, that’s another great thing to do to get the vegetable into your one pot meal.

And it only adds one ingredient. So you’re not actually cooking spinach separately. Baby spinach, you can throw into a chili at the very end and it’ll wilt in like a minute flat and you have your veg in there too. I know a lot of kids may not like be into that. Yeah. Let’s be honest, but it is a nice way if your kids will eat that.

It’s a nice way to just add the veg and you’re only adding one ingredient and there’s no like side quests that you have to go on to make the veg. Two thoughts on spinach. One, sometimes I throw in the whole leaves and then that makes Even if when they’re cooked down, that makes them big enough for my kids to eat around, which they will do without complaint.

Other times I very roughly chop up the fresh spinach and then throw it in whatever soup or dish we’re having. Cause then it’s small enough that they just think it’s a spice and we’ll sometimes eat it.

You’re very smart.

I’m not trying to be sneaky, but I only address what it is if they ask. Yes.

I think that’s legitimate.

I love that. Okay, other cheap one pot meals that we want to mention and then we should move on to things that are just like really simple.

Miso and sweet chili glazed pork loin. This is a recipe that I no longer have published you guys, but it was so good. And basically you take the sweet chili sauce from the supermarket and whisk in miso and then Glaze a pork loin, so put some on top of the pork loin, season the pork loin with salt and pepper, put some of the glaze on top, pop it in the oven, and then a couple of times before the pork loin is cooked all the way through, baste it.

So now we have salt and pepper, we’re not counting the pork loin, the sweet chili sauce, miso paste. Great. We’re at three ingredients. How beautiful is that? And then maybe roast some broccoli and steam. rice on the side. It’s actually a really delicious combination. And the other thing I was going to mention, this might be five before we get to the veggies.

This is a football season thing in my house. Okay. Spicy bacon wrapped pork loin. Okay. So you take a pork loin, you split it down the middle. Get ready, buckle up. You put some cream cheese in there and some jarred jalapenos, either mild or spicy, depending on what your family likes. Close it up and wrap the whole thing in bacon strips and then pop it in the oven. Slice it up. It’s delish. It is so good.

Sounds like a jalapeno popper in the best way.

Yeah. Hi. Thanks. Delicious.


I win the episode.

So we have the pork loin, the cream cheese, the jalapenos, the bacon, that’s four ingredients, friends, salt and pepper, of course, to season it. You don’t need olive oil because the bacon fat will render as you cook it up and then just do like a bag salad on the side.

I love it. What about just buying a roast chicken from the store or rotisserie chicken? I mean, that’s one ingredient, right? And then like, that’s it.

Roast some veggies on a sheet pan. Call it a day.

Yeah. I love that. Or like any of our simple bean dishes. If you need, you know, we, we talked a couple of times.

As we were going through our list of like just needing to add a quick protein and we talked about roasting sausage or breaded chicken tenders from your freezer or just pick up a rotisserie chicken. And that’s a great way to add it to. Okay. Should we move on to simple stuff?

Yes. Can we? Yeah. In the summer episode, we talked about grilled cheese and I think grilled cheese of all variety gets even better when we get into fall.

I’m talking about like adding some thinly sliced apples or apple butter, swapping out maybe like fresh mozzarella that you would use in the summertime with your tomatoes. For like some gruyere cheese, maybe you’re buying deli turkey or grabbing that rotisserie chicken and making like super hefty, super delicious grilled cheeses for fall.

Oh, I love this idea so much. It’s so satisfying and great. I always forget. Until I remember again, and then I do it for a while, and then I forget again. The grilled cheese is actually a great vehicle for veggies. Yes. Right? So like chopped spinach can go in there. Jarred artichokes can be put in a grilled cheese sandwich.

I don’t know. It’s just like, it’s a nice way to do chopped broccoli. You can just do a lot because then you have bread and cheese. So everybody’s happy.

I love it. I like the idea of doing like a broccoli cheddar grilled cheese. Yeah. Where you just like finely chop the broccoli or you could even like shred frozen broccoli and put it in there.

So just make it easier to eat. And I feel like you can get so many different flavor profiles. So like I’m thinking about, can you combine some sort of melty cheese, probably something really simple like mozzarella with some feta, like mash it up and maybe even a little bit of cheese. of cream cheese or just cream cheese and feta so that it’s like spreadable and melty. And then you get those artichoke hearts and spinach and you’ve got like a Greek grilled cheese or like a masala cheese toast where you take maybe chop up a bunch of spinach or even, I don’t know, cauliflower maybe, or like cauliflower rice. I wonder if that would work. And then do a masala spice blend that’s already pre made and like a nice sharp cheddar and get like Indian flavor profile.

There’s just so much you can do there.

I love that idea too for like putting in pita or naan or something too, like making a handheld meal that has all those components in it and it’s like a sandwich instead of over rice. I also, I’m like, Oh, can you do grilled cheese like with canned or jarred soup?

That’s another great option. Like a super simple one.

Totally. I love that. Okay. Um, oh, well, now we mentioned soup and I just had another soup idea, but we’re not in the soup category.

Soup is every category.

A roasted squash and apple soup is such a lovely quintessential fall dish in my house. You’re using all those great fall flavors. You’re using up all those apples that we have on hand and you can literally just roast squash and apples on a sheet pan and then blend it with some, chicken broth or vegetable broth if you prefer. And then you can add a little like dash of heavy cream if you want to keep it vegetarian. Or maybe we’re even vegan at this point, you can add coconut cream instead. That’s really great too. Just a handful of ingredients, serve it with a big bag salad on the side or one of those proteins that we talked about. And you’re still at right about five ingredients.

Do you think croutons count as special bread?


Could you do like cheesy croutons on top of that? Yes. Oh my God.

And you know what is so cute? I’m usually not a sucker for this kind of precious internet meme y trendy stuff, but when people take, make a simple grilled cheese and then cut it into crouton sizes and pile it on top of their soups. Yum!

I love that. Yeah. I love it a lot.

Baked potatoes. Can we make baked potato, like a loaded baked potato, a meal and have it be under five ingredients? You bake the potato. Yeah. You’re going to put some butter and salt and pepper on it. Maybe you roast some broccoli while the potato is in the oven. You could add rotisserie chicken for some heft or one of those like pre made carnitas or shredded beef.

Cheese? Sour cream? I’m definitely getting over with toppings, but I love a baked potato.

I think you’re nailing it. And you know, here’s another thing I want to say about the five ingredient rule. I clearly have a problem with rules. That it feels a little different to me when we go over and you can buy You can buy the stuff.

Do you know what I mean? Like if you wanted to do a loaded baked potato bacon bits that you buy, a rotisserie chicken that you buy, like sour cream that you buy, you know what I mean? Like, and you just compile it. Like if you’re going over five, come on. Like you’ve done, you’ve

not done a lot of cooking.

It’s cool. We’re not adding effort. We’re only asking you to add those things to make it more delicious.

I don’t disagree. So I’m into it. And my kids love. Sweet potatoes again. So one thing that I used to always make, gosh, I have to go back to it. I forgot about this. I would get loose sausage or I can take the sweet Italian, something really simple, the sausage meat out of the casings and a little bit of oil, maybe onion, maybe garlic.

If I’m in a rush, the sausage has enough flavor where you’re going to be fine, even if you don’t do that. And I would saute the sausage with kale. or spinach, and a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. And then I would pile that on top of a roasted sweet potato. I think we’re at four ingredients there. I would dollop Greek yogurt that’s been seasoned with a little bit of lime juice and salt.


We used to eat that a lot.

I love that variation on the idea of a loaded baked potato.

Yes. And you’ve got a baked potato. You’ve got sausage. You’ve got chickpeas. Like it’s very high in protein. It’s very nutrient dense. That’s a flavor profile your family will like. I mean, even one of those, like a big sweet potato with a lot of the filling will totally fill my guys up.

Can I go another direction in the vein of things I love to eat? And I think we could make it five ingredients.

Yeah, let’s do it.

Okay, risotto, I would air quotes it because it’s not going to be a traditional risotto where you’re like sweating the shallot and then you’re like adding wine, but using Arborio or other risotto rice, cooking it with broth, maybe you’re adding a little bit of butter and Parmesan and then loading it with things like you could go broccoli cheddar, you could go.tomato and almost make like a pizza ish risotto, like canned tomato, add some mozzarella, maybe you do sausage on it.

We have, am I imagining that we have something that’s risotto ish with bonza orzo that is almost like jambalaya adjacent where it’s like tomatoes, sausage, and there’s lots of warm spices in there.

I think risotto gets put into like on a pedestal that it doesn’t need to be on. You can make risotto on a weeknight. It’s not crazy.

I totally agree with you. I think that’s awesome. I love that. Okay. What else? What about using ramen? Because right there you’ve got noodles, which is your nice carb, some heft.

You’ve got the flavor packet, which gives you like crazy flavor without like, is that even a separate ingredient? I don’t know, but it’s like you don’t need to pull a ton of spices.

No, it’s not, yeah, it’s not a separate ingredient at all. So you can take ground beef or ground sausage without the casing. Brown it up, put some of the seasoning, cook the noodles. Add them in and then fry an egg and put it on top. That’s a really great one too.

Okay. She pan. This is she being adjacent again, but I’m just thinking about she pan steak frites. What did you did? Like Flank steak. You could season it really simply with just like salt and pepper. And then doing like frozen fries, doing those on a sheet pan and then like roasting some green beans or doing a bag salad alongside of it.

Yeah. I think that’s awesome.

That feels very like fast and fancy to me, I think because we eat it a lot on our anniversary, which is in November. And then I kind of, I feel like in the summer episode, we talked a little bit about fish and we haven’t really in this episode.

So what about shrimp and grits? I think you can make that five ingredients or you could do like, um, instead of the grits and making the grits from scratch, which can sometimes take a long time, even though it’s like hands off cooking. Even buying like the polenta in the tube and like browning that in the pan and then really putting your effort into making like really flavorful shrimp.

You could go shrimp scampi style and put that over it and like along in, in the pan where you’re using like the garlic and lemon, you could cook some veg. I’m trying to think of what I would do. Maybe like shredded Brussels sprouts?

Oh, that sounds so good.

Or even like from frozen butternut squash. So like squash, grits, shrimp, all in a bowl. Three of the four of us would enjoy that. Ella would.

Yeah, I mean, same in my family, same in my family. But I do think I’m really glad that you brought up shrimp because it’s fast and it’s such a great quick weeknight meal ingredient. Can we just do away with these categories? Cause I’m all over the place now.

Categories left us long ago, Billis.

Okay, good, good, good, good, good. Cause I just remembered a recipe that’s actually by the pasta queen, the famous TikTok Instagram star. So fabulous. But she makes a broccoli, a creamy broccoli pasta that My kids like, even Isaac who doesn’t like cooked broccoli, he only likes raw broccoli, but this he’ll eat because what you do is you basically in one pot, you put broccoli florets and some garlic cloves whole with some water and you cover it and you let it steam until it’s soft and you take all of that and you dump it into your blender and you blend the whole thing up. If you have a kid who actually likes broccoli, it’s nice to actually leave some pieces of that soft steamed broccoli behind so that it’s not all completely smooth, but that’s up to you. Then you pour that liquid, that blended liquid back into the pot. You might need to add a little bit of extra water — I can’t remember. And then you add pasta, like a very short, like tube or pastina, something like that, you let it cook. And in the end you add a little bit of whisked egg and Parmesan to make it nice and creamy and rich. And it’s really a great one bowl meal. And that’s it because it’s got the broccolis in there.

It reminds me a lot of pastina, which, you know, some people will say that’s Italian penicillin, that like creamy, tiny, like simple Italian pasta dish. But this with the addition of broccoli makes it like really a one pot meal that has some veg in there too.

Can we call out what’s so genius about both pastina and the recipe that you’re mentioning, which is a lot of times you’re like cooking veggies in the broth. And then you’re blending it, so you end up with something that if your kid has vegetable texture issues, is like full of the nutrients of the veggies, sure, maybe you’re losing like a little bit of fiber, but you’re still getting nutrients in them in a way that they’ll really enjoy.

Yeah, totally. We’ve talked a lot about sausage and you mentioned the sausage and cabbage, but like, what about old school sausage and peppers? Just slice up red, orange, yellow, a combo of peppers and onion, oil, salt, pepper, put in some kielbasa or whatever you like, roast it up. And it’s so good again, just like special bread can even put it on like hoagie loaves and a bag salad. And I recently found at Trader Joe’s shaved steak. Have you seen this?

I have. So I picked it up because I’ve been cooking almost exclusively Trader Joe’s meals. Cause I’m still in this rental apartment and it’s just like, I really need like low cooking assembly meals. And that I did the same thing. I sauteed in one pan, peppers and onions. Then I cooked the shaved steak, mixed it all together, ciabatta rolls. And the like famous garlic spread from Trader Joe’s that everybody likes. Oh, and then I melted pepper Jack cheese on top. So now we’re up to six and there’s no veg or salad, but, um, it was really great. The kids really liked it. It was just like basically. kind of cheesesteak ish sandwiches.

Yeah, it sounds so good.

Also, I feel compelled to let people know that we do have a whole episode in the subscriber area of our community or if you subscribe via Apple Podcasts where Stacey talks about all the The semi homemade meals that she’s been making. And we talked together about how you can use shortcuts, but still make things really delicious. So definitely check that out. If you want to hear more of these genius ideas like this.

What else, Meghan?

I don’t know. The thing that we run into every time we record is now I’m hungry and I feel like we have to go!

So let’s take it to our free community is the best place on the internet. It’s full of smart shopping lists, meal plan ideas, thousands of other home cooks, just like you visit, didn’t I just feed you. com backslash community to join us and don’t forget to follow us. We are at, didn’t I just feed you on Instagram, a huge thank you to our producer, Samantha Gattsek

I am Stacie.

and I’m Meghan. Stay sane and well fed until next week.

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