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.