We all have our dinnertime staples, but unfortunately, sometimes those stables grow stale. No matter how much we enjoy a particular dish, if we’ve been eating it for a long time, we run the very common risk of getting sick of it. Luckily, the remedy to this problem is a very simple one: just eat something else. Unluckily, venturing out isn’t always the most cost-effective or the most practical option for some families. With that said, just because you want to eat something different doesn’t mean you have to replace the things that are already in your pantry. Sometimes it is just a matter of reimagining ingredients that you already know you love.
To help you out, we’ve taken four everyday dinnertime staples — rice, pasta, potatoes and beans — and came up with a few exciting ways for how you can repurpose them. Not only will these suggestions provide an alternative for those nights when you want something a little different, but they’ll give you more recipes to choose from every time you go to cook dinner.
Fun ways to jazz up basic ingredients into exciting meals
Potatoes have a reputation as a very customizable ingredient, so it is no surprise that you can take it even further than the regular few potato dishes you already have in rotation. Because they take so well to flavour, different textures, and techniques, you can feel confident in the recipe suggestions below.
If you’re yet to try your hand at a potato casserole, now is the time! This wholly customizable, creamy, and highly easy-to-make dish is the ultimate comfort food.
Pull-apart potato rolls
Bread? Made with mashed potatoes? Believe it! Soft, tender and incredibly chewy, potato rolls are the perfect way to repurpose mashed potatoes and wow your friends and family with all of the delicious things potatoes have to offer.
Golden potato cake
This crispy and buttery potato dish is what dreams are made of. Like latkes, but made with mashed potatoes, potato cakes are a fluffy soiree into the fun things you can do with potatoes.
Yes, there’s spaghetti, tortellini, penne, angel hair, and much, much more, but that is not the only place you can find diversity in pasta. We’re all very familiar with taking a type of pasta and smothering it in a usually tomato or cream-based sauce, but this grain base has untapped potential. Here are some different things you can do.
Pasta fritters are a great way to reserve leftover pasta. With only a few extra ingredients, you can turn last night’s pasta into something new, exciting and, if possible, even more delicious.
Who doesn’t love spaghetti, and who doesn’t love pie? This dish is literally the best of both worlds. Kid-friendly and incredibly easy to whip up, this dish has all of the components of a new household favourite!
Carbonara muffins or tartlets
Probably the only way that you can make muffins even better. With only a few base ingredients, you can turn your everyday pasta into a baked delight!
Beans are sooooo multi-purposed! They’re not called the magical fruit for nothing – beans can be roasted, mashed, steamed, pureed, and more. These suggestions are only scratching the surface of what you can use them for.
Black bean meatballs
Black bean meatballs might be one of vegans’ best-kept secrets! Full of flavour, easy-to-make, and able to stay perfectly intact, these meatless meatballs are a game-changer.
White bean-stuffed spaghetti squash
Make room for another household favourite! Stuff beautifully roasted spaghetti squash with white beans and your choice of protein and a few extra ingredients, and watch magic happen.
Crispy roasted black beans
Made simply with only a few spices, black beans and a drizzling of olive oil, roasted black beans delight in their simplicity. Try them as a snack or as a crunchy component to a larger dish.
Like with pasta and beans, there is a lot of variety already when it comes to the type of rice, but less so when it comes to what you can do with it. As much as we love our steamed and fried rice, sometimes served with a medley of protein and veggies, there are a few other places you can take it. Here are some suggestions.
If risotto feels like something only served at a fancy restaurant, it’s time to change that perception. This creamy, slightly al dente dish pairs wonderfully with grilled meat but can also be eaten by itself.
Rice with bite! You might initially think of this as bottom-of-the-pot burnt rice, but it is so much more than that. Made right, you don’t get any of the burnt taste, only the nice, satisfying crunch.
Baked saffron rice
This dish is full of little delicious surprises, interspersed with flavourful spices, meat, dried fruit, and more. Resembling that of a cake, with this dish you can easily have your cake and eat it too.
Sometimes all it takes to jazz up dinner is a simple reimagining. We hope that these recipe suggestions provide you with some good ideas and somewhere to go when you need a little bit of a break from the routine. Wishing you happy cooking and even happier eating!