5 Ideas for a Quick and Light Dinner

A well-stocked pantry can help you put together meals in minutes. See more easy weeknight meals pictures.

Unless you're an aspiring chef, chances are you aren't whipping up elaborate gourmet meals every night. On weekday nights, most of us -- if we're not heading for the nearest drive-thru -- just want to make a quick dinner to fill our bellies after a long day. But "quick" too often means heating up a prepackaged or frozen meal that's loaded down with sodium, fat and artificial ingredients. After a long day though, chopping vegetables or firing up the grill often seems like more trouble than it's worth.

But really, it's not that much harder -- and it's always healthier -- to throw together a few fresh, simple items. Most of these five ideas for quick and light dinners involve pantry staples like pasta and beans, or they're flexible recipes that allow you to use the ingredients and seasoning that you happen to have on hand (great for using up leftovers!). So the next time you go to the grocery store, bring these meal ideas with you -- it might help you resist the temptation to fill your shopping cart with TV dinners and even more boxes of mac and cheese.

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