If you want quick and easy meals through the week, consider some batch cooking. Roast extra sheet pan veggies, double the brown rice or make a double recipe of a chili mixture. Cooking extra when you have time will save you time later. Then when you finish up your busy work or school day, you’ll have an easier time creating a variety of scrumptious dinners.

Equipping your kitchen with some basic tools makes cooking easier.

For instance, if you cook up a chili on Sunday, you can use it two more days through the week for a protein in your meal.

The basic chili is easy:

  1. Just saute lean ground beef, ground turkey or veggie crumbles in a teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil, in a nonstick pan until lightly browned.
  2. Add canned beans, diced bell pepper and onion and saute another 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat until veggies are soft but not brown.
  3. Boom – you have a chili mixture.

You can use this to fill a soft taco. Add guacamole, shredded lettuce, chopped tomato. Or you can top a green salad with it. Or you can try these delicious enchiladas. The secret sauce uses canned pumpkin puree, which boosts nutrition by adding fiber, betacarotene and other antioxidants to the meal! An extra veggie a day is always a good thing!

Check out this episode of SpotOn Podcast where I was a guest offering up more tips to help you get going in the kitchen.

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This is a quick and easy casserole that uses some pantry staples. The pumpkin gives it added nutrients (potassium and betacarotene) and fiber. It can be made ahead and reheated. It's great leftover.
Servings 4 servings
Author Rosanne Rust MS RDN, www.rustnutrition.com


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 mini bell peppers diced (or 2 large)
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 TB tomato paste
  • 1 packet low sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or bison
  • 1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 8 mini corn tortillas street-taco size
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt optional


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Pour pumpkin into a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add broth and tomato paste, stir to combine. Add about 2 teaspoons of taco seasoning from the packet. Let the sauce simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add peppers and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the beef to the pan the peppers were cooked in. Break the beef up into crumbles as you brown it, then reduce heat and return the peppers to the pan. Add the beans and combine. Remove from heat.
  • Pour about a third of the sauce to the prepared baking dish. Add ½ of the beef mixture to the dish. Top with 4 tortillas. Spread another third of the sauce over the tortillas. Top with the rest of the beef mixture. Top the beef mixture with 4 tortillas, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then cut into 4 servings. Garnish with the yogurt if desired.