What to Make When You Have No Idea What to Make

I once watched a show about the “kitchen of the future” in which your kitchen would track everything you have at any given time and then tell you what you could and should make with it.  This concept is such a regular part of my daydreams that it’s actually embarrassing. Especially given that I’ve based my career around thinking, talking, teaching about and making food.  

I figure if I have trouble figuring out what to make on any given night and I live, breathe, and sometimes even eat food, then everyone else must have the same challenge and maybe even more so.  So today I’m breaking down my simple, sure-fire formula for making a delicious meal when you have a fridge or pantry full of ingredients and no idea what to make.

Don’t have ingredients – well that’s another post for another time. For now, we’ll focus on cleaning out the fridge!

Basically this is an easily customizable stir-fry that can be personalized based on what you have or what you’re eating at any given time.  It goes a little something like this:


What’s that you say? You’re Paleo or don’t eat grains? Then it should go like this:



Oh wait, you’re vegan?  Cool! Then it goes like this:


Great, you say. You’ve listed a lot of ingredients but what does it all mean? What I hope it will mean is that you can make a quick, nutritious meal anytime that strikes your fancy. One night it might be a curry chicken bowl and another it might be Italian white beans with sun-dried tomatoes and orzo.  The beauty of cooking like this is that you can make it your own based on whimsy and practicality and it’s truly something you don’t need a recipe for.

BUT…just in case you do need a recipe to get your self started, check out the one I made below! It was for a quick Indian inspired chicken and rice bowl that was a hit with both the adults and kiddo (see below for evidence).  It also was easy enough that I made it with minimal equipment in our new downtown Seattle abode. But more on that another day.


Curried Chicken Rice Bowl
Yields 4
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
  1. 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  2. 1 diced yellow onion
  3. 1 inch minced, peeled ginger
  4. 2 cloves minced garlic
  5. 2 chopped bell peppers
  6. 2 Tbsp curry powder
  7. Big pinch salt
  8. 1 lb ground chicken thigh
  9. 1 cup cooked brown rice
  10. 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
  11. 3 big handfuls of spinach
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add coconut oil, garlic, onion, and ginger. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring every once in a while.
  2. Add bell peppers, curry powder, and big pinch salt. Cook about 2 minutes then push everything to the edges. Add ground chicken thigh to the middle of the pan. Brown about 2 minutes, then chop up with spatula and allow to continue browning, moving it around to cook all sides. As it starts cooking through, you can stir the veggies in too.
  3. Then at the very end I stirred in about 1 cup brown rice, 1 head of chopped baby broccoli (cut small), and a handful of spinach. Cover with lid (loose fitting is fine) if you want veggies to steam a bit and everything to cook through.
  4. Serve with hot sauce! Makes great leftovers too!
Make it ahead
  1. - Store in refrigerator: Eat within 3-5 days
  2. - Store in freezer: Divide into single portion sizes and freeze. Should keep about 6 months. Defrost overnight or just throw it in a pan or in the microwave to warm up when you want to eat.
Delicious By Nature http://deliciousbynature.com/

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