Cabinet Worthy Dinners

Does this look familiar? It’s my friend Annie’s answer to the Tabula Rasa Dinner Dilemma, also known as The Moment You Walk in From Work, Look in Your Completely Full Fridge, but Still Draw a Total Blank on Dinner Ideas Even Though You’ve Made Dinner Roughly Thousands of Times Before This Night. (It’s an affliction most acute during the first week of school.) Annie looks at this evolving cheat sheet of a dozen or go-tos dinners to remind her what to make for her family of four. There are three categories: “Easy,” “Soups,” and “Sundays.” What qualifies? From the look of it, meals that are simple, straightforward, real — meals that everyone will eat, that don’t set off any Richter-scale-level eruptions with the kids. I’m happy to see a bunch of DALS dinners made the cut: Quinoa with Fried Eggs and Soy Sauce, Yogurt Chicken, Sesame Noodles, Dumplings, fried chickpeas.

I used to have a similar system on the inside of my cabinet door. I taped recipe clippings from newspapers and magazines, and posted stickies with ideas all over the place, until, as you know, I permanently memorialized some favorites in actual paint (see below). I’m willing to bet — even when there are approximately three zillion recipes available to us with the swipe of a touchscreen — that you have some low-tech version of this cabinet door, as well.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because when Annie was flipping through The Playbook, she awarded me one of the highest honors a family dinner blogger can receive: She said she couldn’t believe how many recipes in my book were Cabinet Worthy.

Cabinet Worthy! Is it too late to to change the name of my book? (And does Seinfeld have a patent on this phrase already?) I would like to retroactively assert that this was the litmus test every recipe in Playbook had to pass: Would it be posted inside the cabinet? Yep? Ok, it’s in.

On this first week back to school I ask: What’s Cabinet Worthy in your house?

Incidentally, Gina Triplett, who painted these recipes inside my cabinet, is the illustrator who designed the beautiful spine on PlaybookI like to keep things all in the family. Speaking of which: Great Grandma Turano’s Meatballs.

PS: Locals! Next Tuesday, September 9, I’ll be speaking/reading from Dinner: The Playbook at the fabulous “story salon” Spoken Interludes in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Hope you can come by to say hello. It’s quite a line-up! Click here for more details.

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Congratulations on the release of the new book! I always turn to your first book when I have a tabula rasa moment….now I’ll have two 😉 My favorite simple meal is one of yours….it’s the one pan roast salmon and brussel sprouts (which I interchange what whatever veggie is in my fridge). Always makes everyone happy…plus, I only have to clean up one cookie sheet.


I make that Pork Loin in Pomegranate with Purple Cabbage regularly. That is cabinet worthy in my house! (Also, meatballs, pizza, vinaigrette, and pork ragu!). Did i mention that my copy of DALS is hanging on by a thread? Perhaps i literally need to get this stuff on the cabinet doors!


The ‘DALS Chili’ is a cabinet-worthy favorite in our house. Can’t wait to read your new book and discover some new favorites!


Love the new book! It arrived while I was away last week and I’ve already cooked the Roasted Salmon and Asparagus (with broccoli as asparagus season has finished in the UK) and vowed to do the thirty days! I would put Chicken Parm Meatballs on a cabinet definitely!


Hmm, all the things on our cabinet are starches: our favorite waffles, 2 bread doughs from healthy bread in 5 min a day, and your biscotti recipie. What might be our favorite go to, by will never be on the cabinet because it doesn’t need a recipe: black bean quesadillas. We mash the beans w spices and veggies, and quesadilla them up. Winner every time. (Same black beans can be seved w nachos. Also fast and yummy!

Rebecca Apple

I am a seasoned cook, but with 3 small children the time to PREPARE MEALS is elusive. I pre-ordered your new cookbook knowing you had my back. And you did not fail me! Tonight I quickly whipped up the Shrimp Rolls. Fast, easy, and delicious. My husband–and I quote–said, “I love food like this. Creamy, good crunch from the celery, just really satisfying.” Many, many thanks!


As soon as I’m no longer renting I am definitely doing this (no matter what my wife says!). As it is I will have to live with the current stack of note cards.


Curry, chicken tacos, Melissa Clark’s one sheet broccoli and shrimp bake, BBQ chicken sliders, crispy tofu with spinach, greens tart (any combo of sauteed dark, leafy greens -kale, chard, spinach, mustard, collards, etc + feta, lemon, onion, egg).


We just had a batch of frozen meatballs (via DALS) for dinner tonight. They were from my second double batch and it’s no wonder they are cabinet worthy!


Salmon cooked any way you like on a bed of fresh greens, with goat cheese, chopped almonds, sliced pears and vinaigrette! (If you can’t get decent pears, try roasted beets). Every time I make it the boyfriend says those amazing words..”I could eat this every night!” 🙂


We’re doing a lot of taco salad and roast sausage and vegetables and garlic Parmesan spaghetti around here, because those are our most reliable fallbacks. We don’t have kids going back to school- we’re homeschooling- but we’re just starting the process of moving my elderly and infirm parents into a retirement home and moving us into my old family home, and that plus the four kids six and under is a brain stressing extreme type of crazy. Easy dinner time.