Anyone who cooks regularly for a family is always on the lookout for easy meal ideas. Meal starters are general items that can be used to prepare a variety of dishes from a simply stocked cupboard or refrigerator. A good starter can be used to make a number of recipes.
Rotisserie Chicken Meal Starter
Roast chicken purchased from the deli of your local grocer is a wonderful meal starter with lots of versatility. The simplest way to serve it is sliced with a side of rice, frozen vegetables and some dinner rolls. Or chop the meat and mix with mayonnaise, sliced celery, spices, a handful or nuts and a splash of lemon juice to make a chicken salad that can be served over greens or on bread. Another easy idea for a meal featuring rotisserie chicken is to shred the meat and mix it with cooked pasta noodles, store-bought pesto and some shaved Romano cheese.
Minced Meat Meal Starter
Minced meat is a convenient meal starter. Jazz it up with onion and spices to make hamburger patties for a cookout. Or brown the meat and add onions, peppers, Italian spices and canned tomatoes to make a quick spaghetti sauce for a pasta dinner. If you're in the mood for something a little more exotic, cook the beef and then simmer for 15 minutes with a cup of broth, mixed vegetables like peas, carrots and red peppers, and a tablespoon or two of curry powder to make a filling stew that can be served over rice.
Pasta Meal Starter
Keep a variety of sizes and shapes of pasta on hand to always have a simple meal starter on hand. Macaroni and cheese is a crowd pleaser that can be made with any short noodle and a creamy sauce of milk, grated cheese and flour. Make it more hearty by adding chopped ham. Make an elegant pasta dish by tossing spaghetti with olive oil, sliced garlic, fresh corn, chopped tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Rolled lasagne noodles or large shells can be stuffed with a cream cheese mixture, baked in a red sauce and topped with grated hard cheese for an easy, filling dinner.