Veggie Throw Together: Microwave or bake a potato, let cool, then cut into ½-inch chunks and set aside. From your refrigerator, grab any leftover vegetables, chop and throw them into a large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté until tender and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add cooked potato chunks and ½ can drained and rinsed black beans and season with paprika, pepper and garlic powder. Push mixture to the side of the skillet and crack 1 to 2 eggs on the empty side; cook to desired doneness. Serve potato and bean hash with eggs and your favorite cheese on top.
— Rachel Pacala, MS, RDN, LDN
Ingredient Improv: Swap white potato for sweet potato, parsnips or plantain; or substitute white, kidney or garbanzo beans for black beans. Add aromatics such as onion, scallion and garlic. For a vegan version, try a tofu scramble instead of egg.
Simple Salmon Patties: Drain and pat dry a can or pouch of salmon. Mix with a beaten egg, diced onion and diced bell peppers. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add breadcrumbs and form into a patty. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Coat salmon patty in flour, then cook until brown and crispy and internal temperature has reached 160°F.
— Becky Normandeau, RD, LD
Ingredient Improv: Substitute tuna or crab for salmon or make a meatless version with mashed black beans or navy beans. Vary the spices to suit your preference or serve in different ways such as on top of a salad, on a bed of quinoa or in a pita.
Rice Noodle Soup: For an easy rice noodle soup, start by cooking a single-serve package of rice noodles according to instructions. Drain and put noodles in a bowl. In a pot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ sliced onion, sliced mushrooms and sliced yellow squash. Sauté until tender. Add ¼ pound ground turkey and cook until brown and internal temperature has reached 165°F. Add about 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, ½ cup water and a few tablespoons of your favorite pasta sauce and bring to a boil. Add a handful of baby spinach and cook. Pour everything into a bowl and serve.
— In Kio Mac, MS, RD
Ingredient Improv: For a richer flavor, use more broth and no water. Substitute rice noodles with white or brown rice or another cooked grain. Add any vegetable combination you love and try cubed firm or extra-firm tofu instead of turkey.
Black Bean Chili: Bring to a simmer 1 can diced tomatoes with juice. Add 1 cup water with 2 teaspoons each of cumin and coriander. Stir in 1 diced onion and 1 diced bell pepper. Add ¾ cup corn and 1 can drained and rinsed black beans. Simmer 30 minutes.
— Cindy Gay, RD, LD
Ingredient Improv: Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock instead of water or swap cumin and coriander for your favorite chili spice mix. Make it a white bean chili and load in as many vegetables as you want.
Dairy Boosted Pasta: In a saucepan, add leftover cooked chicken, dry pasta, frozen vegetables (as many as you can fit) and about ½ cup milk. Optionally, add a few tablespoons of Alfredo cream sauce. Boil until pasta is tender and vegetables are warm. Slowly add more milk, if needed, and cook until heated through.
— Wendy Phillips, MS, RD, CNSC, CLE, FAND
Ingredient Improv: If you don’t have Alfredo cream sauce, no worries: A little bit of yogurt or sour cream goes a long way, especially if you have some Parmesan or Romano cheese to add to it. Elevate the herbaceousness with fresh chopped parsley and basil garnishes.