Quick Overview: The Best Home Cooked Meals
- Old-fashioned chicken and rice
- Buffalo chicken wings
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- Easy pesto pasta recipe
- Mac and cheese
- Chocolate chip cookie bars
Nothing says home like home made food. The process itself is already comforting: You put on your favorite apron, smell the fresh herbs and veggies, unwind completely and connect again with yourself.
Moreover, cooking at home gives you more control over the ingredients and the overall recipe, whether you’re looking to customize a meal to your own personal taste or are just trying to eat healthier.
In this article, we bring you six classic home-cooked meals to try. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking for yourself on a weeknight or hosting a Sunday barbecue, with these recipes, you can’t go wrong!
- The Best Home Cooked Meals With Chicken
- The Best Home Cooked Meals With Pasta
- The Best Home Cooked Comfort Food
- Dalstrong Tools You’ll Need To Cook At Home
- Tips For Making The Best Home Cooked Meals
- Other Easy Home Cooked Meal Recipes
- Frequently Asked Questions About Home Cooked Meals
1. The Best Home Cooked Meals With Chicken
Chicken is the king of easy dinner ideas. There are so many easy chicken dinners available that I had a hard time choosing which ones to include here!
Read about the best chicken meat, here.
Classic Chicken and Rice
Also called “old fashioned chicken and rice” or “one pot chicken and rice”, this is a popular Southern recipe, so easy to make that almost anyone can cook it with great results.
Please note, there are many dishes that include chicken and rice, and could fairly be called “chicken and rice”. But this particular one follows the classic recipe from the Southern United States.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Sliced Celery Stalks (three is fine)
- One Yellow Onion, diced
- Minced Garlic
- Long Grain White Rice
- Chicken Broth
- Spices: Dried Thyme and Dried Parsley
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion (diced)
- Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper
- Heat oil in a dutch oven or stock pot. Cook the chicken thighs with salt and pepper for about five minutes per side. When it’s done, remove and put it aside.
- Saute the celery for five minutes in the same pan, using the remaining oil.
- Then add the butter and sweat the onions (should take about five minutes). Then bring the garlic, thyme and parsley.
- Toast the rice in this pan for approx. 4 minutes, stirring constantly. The rice will brown a bit.
- Pour the chicken broth, add salt and put the lid on. Let the rice boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer until all the liquid has been reduced. Then let it rest for five minutes.
- Pull apart the thighs to create medium-sized pieces.
- Mix chicken and rice.
- Garnish with parsley and serve!
Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Your favorite hot sauce (store bought or home-made)
- Olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Black Pepper
- The key step is to marinade the chicken well. My favorite way is to combine all ingredients in a plastic bag or a bowl, put the chicken inside, coat it well and give it time (anywhere from one hour to the whole night).
- Bake for about 25 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using a meat thermometer. Some people like to brown the chicken tights on a skillet before baking. OPTIONAL: If you’re using an air fryer, just air fry the marinated chicken for 10 minutes, then flip and air fry it another 8 minutes.
- Toss some more hot sauce all over the chicken thighs and serve!
2. The Best Home Cooked Meals With Pasta
Pasta is so versatile and so comforting, it is no wonder it is so many people’s favorite dinner. Moreover, it satisfies carnivores and vegetarians alike, so it’s a popular choice for family or group dinners where different demands meet at the table.
This is why I’ll bring two iconic, homemade pasta dinner recipes, one for meat lovers and one for our veggie friends.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 3/4 Pound Spaghetti
- 1 Cup Bread Crumbs
- 1 tsp Dried Parsley
- 1 tsp Dried Basil
- 1 tsp Parmesan Cheese (grated)
- 1 Egg
- 1 Chopped Onion
- 5 Garlic Cloves (minced)
- 2 Cans Peeled Tomatoes
- 1 Can Tomato Puree
- 1 Bay Leaf
- Olive Oil
- To taste: Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Salt and Sugar
- The meatballs. Combine the ground beef, the bread crumbs, the egg (beaten) with parsley, Parmesan, black pepper and garlic powder in a bowl. Create balls to your desired size with your hands. Refrigerate.
- The tomato sauce. Heat olive oil in a skillet and then saute onion and garlic (oh, that smell…). Once the onion is sweating, add tomatoes, sugar, salt and the bay leaf. Simmer for an hour and a half.
- The meatballs + tomato sauce. Add the tomato paste and the previously shaped meatballs to the skillet, along with the basil. Simmer for another half hour.
- The spaghetti. While the meatballs are cooking in the tomato sauce, you can start working on your best spaghetti recipe. We don’t feel it is necessary to explain the steps. We do recommend al dente!
- The final touch. Serve the meatballs on top of the spaghetti, and toss gently. Add a hint of Parmesan cheese for a final touch.
Easy Pesto Pasta Recipe
An easy and delicious vegetarian pasta dinner!
- 2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves
- 2 tsp Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 or 3 Garlic Cloves, Chopped
- 2 tsp Toasted Pine Nuts (you can replace with Walnuts, Pistachios or Almonds)
- Salt, Black Pepper and Olive Oil
- Any Pasta of your choice (I like spaghetti)
Pasta. Cook your chosen pasta al dente and reserve in a bowl.
Pesto. Mix the basil, Parmesan, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. While the ingredients are mixing, you can slowly add the olive oil until it reaches a puree-like texture. When mixed, add salt and pepper to taste.
Mise-en-place. Simply toss the basil pesto into the pasta. I like to top with more Parmesan and basil leaves. Enjoy!
3. The Best Home Cooked Comfort Food
Well, we could as well include 20 comfort food recipes because they are 1) wide and diverse and 2) very relative when using the phrase “the best”. We all have our favorite comfort food and it’s probably as good as it gets.
I chose a classic mac and cheese and, as a sweet final chapter, a cookie recipe. Yay!
Mac and Cheese
- 1 Box Macaroni
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
- ¼ Cup Salted Butter
- ¼ Cup All-purpose Flour
- 2 Cups Whole Milk
- ½ Cup finely Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)
- Cook the macaroni in boiling water for around 8 minutes. It will finish cooking later in the oven.
- Melt butter in a pan, adding flour, salt, and pepper, Stir for around 5 minutes. Then pour in the milk slowly. Stir for another 5 minutes (the milk should not burn).
- Bring the cheddar cheese and the Parmesan to the mix. The sauce should thicken and the cheese should melt (around four minutes). You can add more milk if needed.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and bake in the oven for half an hour.
- Take out, serve and enjoy!
NOTE: Some people like to use bread crumbs as a topping. In this case, spread the crumbs over the macaroni and cheese before baking.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
This is a slight variation of the all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies. All you need to easily make chocolate chip cookie bars is your sheet pan, and you don’t have to spend half your day in your kitchen cooking several cookie batches.
- 3 Cups All-purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Soda
- 2 Cups Mini Semisweet Chocolate Chips (plus a bit extra)
- 1 ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup White Sugar
- 1 Cup Butter
- 2 Eggs
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the cookie dough by mixing the butter and both the brown sugar and the white sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. Then slowly add flour, baking soda and salt. Lastly, bring 2 cups of mini chocolate chips.
- Coat a sheet pan with nonstick spray and spread the cookie dough evenly. Sprinkle a few extra chocolate chips on top.
- Put the sheet pan in the oven and bake for around 25 minutes.
- Take out and let it cool.
- Cut into squares and enjoy!
NOTE: Take the whole experience to a new level by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, right before serving!
4. Dalstrong Tools You’ll Need To Cook At Home
How many savory recipes in the world will require you to heat some oil? Nevermind. You get the point. This non-stick frying pan will become one of your workhorses because it’s just… friendly and loyal. Top-performing, medium-weight and good-looking, all at the same time. And also non-stick, just for the sake of making your life easier.
- One of the world’s longest lasting non-stick coatings.
- This coating also happens to be PFOA and APEO free, made with non-toxic, non-hypoallergenic materials.
- 3-ply Aluminum-core fused with layers of non reactive stainless steel for (even) better conductivity.
- Easy to maintain and super durable.
- Enhanced grip for comfortable cooking.
- Suitable for top electric ranges, induction cooktops and gas stoves.
- Non-stick cookware will last longer and better if you’re extra careful when you handle them. Can you be extra careful?
- The size is very practical, but if you have a big family, you may need the extra room in a 12” pan.
You can’t go wrong with this one. A chef’s knife is definitely among the top essential kitchen tools and this one from the Gladiator series is a crowd pleaser. It doesn’t matter what’s your cooking style or your favorite recipe. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking pasta for one or a pot roast for the whole family.
- The handle is comfortable, classic, ergonomic and ambidextrous.
- Single-piece, high-carbon German Steel.
- Ultra sharp as it should always be.
- It comes with its own perfect-fitting sheath.
- Easy to use, easy to look at, easy to hold and easy to care for.
- This knife will become your most loyal friend in the kitchen, but it’s true that you can get flashier designs from other series.
- Not the best choice for cuts that require a rocking motion.
You can use this stock pot to make the pasta in a couple of these recipes, but in reality you’ll end up using it in many of your home cooked meals. The beautiful pot with an elegant black finish allows for many culinary tasks, from basic boiling, to browning, sautéing, deep frying and even baking.
- Top notch 5-ply copper foundation.
- Superb conductivity. Not only does it heat up real fast, it also cooks evenly and flawlessly.
- Additional thick layers of nonreactive stainless steel and premium aluminum.
- Compatible with all stovetops, including induction.
- By your side at every step of the recipe: oven safe and freezer safe.
- Non-toxic, non-hypoallergenic materials.
- Depending on what you’re looking for, an 8 quart pot may be overkill. Check out this 3 quart pot.
- The premium materials and the best construction come at a cost. Maybe you’re one of those willing to sacrifice quality to save a few bucks (hey, I’ve been there myself).
Have all your needs covered with this knife set from the Vanquish Series. The set includes an 8" Chef Knife, a 9" Carving Knife, a 9" Bread Knife, a 6" Utility Knife, a 5.5″ Serrated Knife, a 7″ Nakiri Knife, a 3.5" Paring Knife, and, top of the cherry: a honing rod to keep your blades on point at all times.
- Seven different types of knives will help in almost any type of cut, for any type of recipe: meat, vegetables, bread, cheese… you can go wild!
- The set comes with an elegant wooden block that will protect the knives but also showcases them in style.
- The blades are made from high-carbon German steel and have been hand sharpened to 9-11° per side (meaning: VERY sharp).
- The handles are ergonomic and easy to clean.
- The honing rod is an excellent plus for any knife set. You won’t have to buy anything outside this combo.
- If you already own some of the knives included here, you may not need the whole set.
- Buying an 8-piece set requires a considerable one-time investment. Some cooks won’t have the necessary amount to buy everything at once, and may opt for buying one piece at a time.
Okay, you can still cook most of the made recipes without a cheese grater. But there are too many dishes that can go from “good” to “extraordinary” with a touch of Parmesan cheese, so I’ll assume you’re aiming for extraordinary. Also, you can use it for many other things like herbs, onions, garlic and ginger.
- Extremely efficient in all recipes which call for grating, zesting and shaving.
- (e.g.: ginger recipes or the final Parmesan touch).
- The handle is ergonomic and textured for better support.
- The stainless steel blade can withstand the acids, heat and humidity in the kitchen.
- Easy to store.
- Rotary graters have a fair amount of fans and will surely overlook the advantage of this design.
- Depending on what you’ll be grating, you may go for a coarse grater, or a narrower one.
5. Tips For Making The Best Home Cooked Meals
How many times have you ended up eating out or ordering food, just because you don’t have enough time to cook what you really want to? If you plan your meals, go grocery shopping ahead of time and have everything at hand, all you have to do is grab your cutting board and the magic will start. You can even do some meal prep like cutting the veggies ahead of time.
Don’t go above your pay grade.
If you’re a beginner cook, go for recipes that you feel comfortable with and ingredients and tools that are possible for you to get. As much as we love trying exotic, new foods, the good thing about home cooked meals is that they don’t have to be too elaborate to put us in a good mood. They should feel cozy and familiar.
Cook that extra mile.
Food bloggers always recommend that you cook large batches and save the leftovers for the rest of the week. Then you can enjoy a delicious home cooked meal several times, without having to cook every time.
Play with herbs and seasonings.
You’d be surprised at how much a simple meal can take off with just the right seasoning or “final touch”. You can also twist a meal completely just by changing a couple of herbs in the recipe. Play with fresh herbs and dried herbs alike. Also, don’t underestimate the power of salt, lemon and spices.
Make it fun.
Home cooking shouldn’t be that thing on the list you keep putting off, it should actually be a thing you look forward to. How to spice things up? (pun intended, yes), you can always cook with company. You can play your favorite music. You could even light some candles and enjoy a refreshing drink while you’re at it, as if it were a date with yourself.
6. Other Easy Home Cooked Meal Recipes
- Stir Fry
- Twice-Baked Potatoes
- Pork Chops
- Instant Pot Roast
- Shepherd’s Pie
- All types of soup recipes! (noodle soup, tomato soup, potato soup, chicken tortilla soup…)
- Rotisserie Chicken (check recipe here!)
- Sloppy Joes
- Beef Chili or Turkey Chili with Black Beans
7. Frequently Asked Questions About Home Cooked Meals
What are the best easy dinner ideas with soup?
A good creamy tomato soup can adapt to every weather and every mood. On the more elaborate, nutritious side: Chicken tortilla soup is an excellent way to surprise guests (or yourself).
What home cooked meals are full of protein?
If you’re trying to bring more protein to your diet in a creative way, try a chili recipe with your favorite protein. If you’re looking for a healthier option, you will find it among salmon recipes or chicken recipes like chicken casserole or a spicy chicken marsala.
What comfort food recipes are healthier?
You can customize every recipe to make it healthier. Try pasta and beans, vegetable fried rice, zucchini noodles, roasted brussel sprouts or vegetarian chili.