How To Plan A Meal With 10 Ingredients

Use this easy guide to turn these ingredients into a delicious meal.

IMAGE Riell Santos

What makes planning a meal so hard? It's not the meal itself that is hard to do. It's what to do with ingredients that you have to make it into a meal that is a stumbling block for many home cooks. 

Planning a meal can be easy. In fact, a list of 10 ingredients is more than enough to create a meal! In fact, you can create a number of meals with 10 ingredients. The problem really lies in what you want to eat, what you want to taste, and what you can make in the limited amount of time you have. 

Here is a list of 10 ingredients, not counting water, salt, pepper, oil, and sugar:  

  • • pork cuts (pigue, kasim, pork chops, or liempo) 
  • • chicken (legs, quarters, breasts, or whole)   
  • • fish (fish fillets or cleaned whole fish)  
  • • ground meat (beef, pork, or chicken) 
  • • vegetables (fresh, dried, frozen, or canned: garlic, onions, ginger, mixed vegetables, green peas, canned corn, sliced mushrooms, black beans, etc.) 
  • • tomato sauce 
  • • all-purpose cream
  • • gata or coconut cream 
  • • condiments (soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, oyster sauce) 
  • • herbs and spices 

These can be any kind that you have, and these are ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now! What makes this meal planning idea so versatile is that all you have to do is create the base to make every meal tasting different every time. You can do this meal planning technique with almost any meal you set your heart to making! 

Here are ideas on how to make an easy meal with simple ingredients:  

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1 Make a stir fry. 

Stir-fries have the advantage of being fast cooking. However, the hassle is in the prep work. All the ingredients should be ready to cook and within easy reach when you fire up the stove under your wok or large saute pan because it should take you only minutes to cook.

To make any meal into a stir fry, here's what you do: 

  1. 1. Prepare all the ingredients: Slice all the vegetables into small chunks or slivers, cut meat into small, thin pieces, and measure condiments and sauces. 
  2. 2. Heat up the pan and add oil. 
  3. 3. Add the ingredients in this order: aromatics (onions, garlic, and ginger), meat, vegetables, and sauce. Season to taste! 
  4. 4. Toss all of these together as it cooks, and serve it while still piping hot off the stove with steamed rice or noodles.   


Photo by Riell Santos

2 Cook a stew. 

Stews take time to cook. That's the beauty of stews and other slow-cooked dishes: you just need to give it time to cook and develop flavors, and it will emerge from the stove a wonderfully tender and flavorful meal. You just need to know how to put it together.

Here's an easy way to make any kind of stew:

  1. 1. Prepare your ingredients: chop vegetables into large cubes, cut meat into large chunks, and prepare the flavorings and water. 
  2. 2. Heat up your Dutch oven, pressure cooker, or heavy-bottomed pot and add oil. 
  3. 3. Sear your meats and half-cook the vegetables, remove from the pot, and saute your aromatics. 
  4. 4. Return the meat to the pot, add your flavorings and enough water to cover, then simmer until tender. Season to taste and add more water as necessary. 
  5. 5. Add your half-cooked vegetables into the pot 10 minutes before the meat is ready to serve to simmer until tender. 
  6. 6. Simmer the stew until the sauce has thickened if it hasn't already. 

Change things up by adding coconut cream to make a ginataang dish, tomato sauce for a classic stew, or a combination of herbs and spices for a burst of flavor that transforms it into a regional dish. 

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Photo by Majoy Siason

3 Make a hearty and chunky soup.

When it comes to soup, Pinoy recipes are hearty affairs! These are not starters but are instead filled with ingredients that can accompany any main or be the main itself. It's also very easy to put together since all you really need to do is simmer the meat and vegetables until cooked and tender. 


Here's how to make any soup into a hearty meal: 

  1. 1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and saute a chopped onion.  
  2. 2. Add your meat, enough water to cover, and simmer until tender. 
  3. 3. Add vegetables while the meat is cooking to cook until tender. 
  4. 4. Season to taste! 

Make each pot of soup different from one another by using different kinds of herbs, spices, and even vegetables to the soup! Ginger makes it into a kind of tinola, a sour ingredient such as sampaloc, batwan, guava, or kamias makes it a tangy sinigang, and keeping it simple and basic with its meaty flavors is a classic nilaga.  

Photo by Majoy Siason

4 Fry then serve it with a tasty sauce.

Frying meats is the easy and fastest way to prepare a meal! That's because once it's fried, it's ready to serve. Little effort with minimum fuss. However, it can get boring if all you're serving are fried.

To make any fried meal more exciting to eat, serve it with a sauce. The sauce can be made with a main ingredient that whets your appetite: cream, mushrooms, coconut cream, or even just plain gravy. Here's how to make a basic sauce: 

  1. 1. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil or melt butter in a pan over medium heat. 
  2. 2. Add 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and stir into the oil or butter.   
  3. 3. Pour in 1 cup chicken stock and whisk to combine. 
  4. 4. Simmer until thickened. 

You can tweak this basic recipe to be creamier by using half stock and half milk or even cream, and you can change its flavor by adding mushrooms, herbs, spices, and condiments to the sauce as desired. Then, just serve with your fried meat for an extra flavorful meal every time.    




Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here! 

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