I like framework meals. That’s not an official term, it is just what I call it and I've been doing this for a long time. These types of meals allow me to use the food items that I have on hand and/or it is what I do if I've not had time to make menu plans (not wanting to make plans is more often the case).
This method is useful if you typically go to the store and buy "what is on sale" instead of shopping from a menu.
The "Tuna Plate", a Cold Meal
This is what I call the "Tuna Plate". The tuna plate consists of the following items placed on a plate.
a serving of cheese (usually cheddar),
a serving of fruit (usually apple),
a serving of raw vegetable (usually carrot),
a serving of prepared meat (usually tuna),
a bread item (usually crackers)
Other things to add could be nuts and raisins
The meat on the tuna plate doesn't have to be tuna, it can be what you have on hand that is already cooked (chicken salad or roast beef for instance). Also, the whole point of the tuna plate is that it’s a cold meal- no cooking allowed!
The Blue Plate Special, a Hot or Mostly Hot Meal
This is the classic "Blue Plate Special" which is another framework meal; it is "a meat and three."
A green vegetable (cooked or not- ex. green beans or small salad)
A colorful vegetable (cooked or not) or a piece of fruit
A starchy vegetable or bread
The Soupy Meal
This is a meal in which the main dish is served in a bowl. This can be soup or runny stew. The soup or stew should contain both protein and vegetables. A starchy item that compliments the main soupy dish such as crackers, rolls, or corn bread is often served as a side.
The Pasta Meal
The pasta meal is typically this:
Pasta noodles served with a sauce that is either mixed into the pasta or poured over the pasta.
The sauce is usually tomato based but not always; the sauce could have meat in it or not.
The sides, if any, are typically a small salad and garlic bread.