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Find Great Last Minute Meal Ideas

by on April 24, 2014
in Health and Home, Kitchen, Family and Parenting, Dining & Entertainment, Tips & How-Tos :: 1 comment

Recipe KeyIt’s 5:30PM, the kids are hungry and I’m starting to feel like a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped. I need to make a healthy meal for five out of whatever I can find in my refrigerator and pantry ASAP. I haven’t been to the supermarket in nearly a week and all I have is pork tenderloin, some carrots, Israeli couscous, a couple of onions, plus whatever spices and staples I normally have on hand.

I could go to just about any recipe site and start looking at all of the pork tenderloin recipes. But it’s a frustrating process when so many of the recipes require ingredients I don’t have. That’s where sites like SuperCook, Recipe Matcher, Recipe Key, and Yummly come in handy. I just enter in the ingredients I have on hand, and they give me a matching list of recipes.

Supercook.comMy favorite of the sites is SuperCook because I can store the staples I keep in my kitchen—butter, salt, tomato paste etc. – so I don’t need to re-enter them every time, which saves me time. And if I happen to be out of tomato paste, I simply delete it from my pantry for that day’s search. There’s also an “Exclusions” list. I can select individual ingredients or whole categories, like all gluten, all nuts or all meat.

SuperCook’s recipes come from professional chefs, so I find the quality tends to be the best. But SuperCook.com isn’t perfect. For instance, I got pork chop, sausage and pork roast recipes mixed in with the pork loin recipes. But there are plenty of recipes to choose from, and I quickly narrowed by choices to the Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce from marthastewart.com and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin on foodnetwork.com. If an ingredient isn’t in my pantry, it will appear in a list below the recipe name so there won’t be any surprises.

Two other great recipe sites that let you store your pantry online are RecipeMatcher.com and RecipeKey.com. You won’t find recipes there from well-known pros though. They’re set up to let you store your own recipes and search recipes from other home cooks.

YummlyFor pro recipes without the pantry option, I turn to Yummly for its unmatched ability to deliver recipes that meet my exact needs. In addition to including and excluding ingredients (including allergens), you can sort by diet (vegan, pescetarian, ovo vegetarian), Nutritional value (fat, calories, cholesterol, carbs), prep time, cost, taste (movable sliders for salty, savory, sour, bitter, sweet), type of cuisine and sources (Epicurious, Food Network, Martha Stewart).

Yummly also has an iOS app (free in the Apple App Store) more limited search functionality. You can search for pork loin with apples, but you can't add ingredients, just exclude those you don't want. You can sort, though, by nutritional information, taste, prep time and cooking technique.

So what ended up on our plates for dinner? A slight variation on Martha Stewart’s Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce, some carrots with butter and dill and Israeli couscous with a little butter, onion and chicken stock. Not bad for a Wednesday night.

Updated on 4/24/2014 to reflect current site picks and app information.

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love this!

From Pat Chiappa on December 12, 2012 :: 2:25 pm

My husband is the cook in the family and he loves to create a wonderful meal from whatever he can find in the pantry and fridge. He finds it a challenge and always seems to come up with a winner. I on the other hand tend to feel like those Chopped contestants with the basket full of ‘difficult’ items so I’m loving these sites you listed. Can’t wait for dinner!

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