Convenience products are often good things. Canned beans, tomatoes and low-sodium chicken broth are among the prepared items I use all the time because they make my life in the kitchen easier.
But some convenience products are worth avoiding -- the ones that appear in the middle aisles of the grocery store, such as boxed skillet dinners. I can do a better job creating a similar dish from scratch that's quick, easy and much more flavorful, while also controlling the fat, salt and other things I'd prefer to keep off the dinner table.
That said, I do love the concept of only using one pan, pot or skillet in the process of making dinner, probably because I'm not a big fan of dirty dishes.
With that in mind, I have come up with several easy, fresh and healthful one-pan wonder recipes to have at the ready. While stir-fries and soups do fit the bill, sometimes what warms up a Minnesota fall night best is an old-fashioned skillet dinner, with its combination of vegetables, protein and starch all together in one place.
More often than not, my skillet dinners are chicken and rice-based, primarily because that's what my family enjoys, but also because it's a versatile combination. I can add almost any vegetable I have on hand and it always tastes good.
Or I can dress it up with a little bit of sausage, or even seafood, for a twist on the traditional Spanish paella.
Whatever I add, the knowledge that I have dinner on the table, and nothing in the sink, somehow makes it taste even better.
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of "Everyday to Entertaining" and "The Big Book of Appetizers." Reach her at meredith@ meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.