Clockwise from left: The Primlani Kitchen, The First Mess, She Makes and Bakes
| March 29, 2013

Imagine you've just had a long day at work, and you're tired. You're hungry too, but you don't feel like stopping off at the grocery store, so you head straight home, take a raw pork chop out of the fridge and slap it in a pan.

Sounds boring and awful, right?

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Well, that's not necessarily the case. If you were forward-thinking enough to marinate that piece of meat before heading off to the office, you'd be fixing up a five-star supper. It's not nearly as time-consuming as it seems, either. All it takes is a few key ingredients from the pantry and an extra five minutes in the morning, and you could be setting yourself up for a mouthwatering meal at the end of the day.

Here's a list of great dinner ideas that benefit from a long bath in a gourmet marinade.

The Comfort of Cooking
Sweet & Sticky Chicken Marinade

Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking puts a tangy twist on dinner with her sweet and sticky marinade. After a few hours in the fridge with some honey, vinegar, soy and brown sugar, her chicken drumsticks go straight into the oven and onto the plate in less than an hour.

She Makes and Bakes
Korean Steak Marinade

Emily at She Makes and Bakes suggests her best friend's Korean flank steak recipe, marinated overnight in a blend of ginger, garlic, soy and spices. It makes a flavorful weeknight dinner, but Emily insists it's equally great when cooked over the campfire.

The First Mess
Balsamic Tofu Marinade

Put a fresh spin on your next salad with this balsamic tofu recipe from Laura at The First Mess. These slabs of soy soak up her garlicky, vinegary marinade extra fast, and they grill up even quicker. For this recipe (as well as Laura's time-saving tofu cooking tips), click here.

Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
Peanut Butter Chicken Marinade

Some people love peanut butter on sandwiches or pretzels. Others, like Reeni at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, marinate their chicken in it. Get the lip-smacking recipe here, which also calls for apple cider vinegar, mint and cayenne pepper. and herbs and seasonings.

The Primlani Kitchen
Jamaican Jerk Chicken Marinade

"I won’t call my recipe traditional but it certainly is addictive," says Rashmi Primlani of The Primlani Kitchen. Her Jamaican jerk chicken marinates for 24 hours in a blend of chilies, spices and aromatics, imparting its savory flavors directly into the meat. Get the full recipe here.

Everyday Southwest
Mayan-Spiced Mango Marinade

When grilling season starts, Sandy at Everyday Southwest reaches into her recipe book for this Mayan-spiced mango marinade. It's perfect for pork, and Sandy suggests a side of beans for the ideal Mayan-inspired meal.

Suburbia Unwrapped
Chimichurri Marinade

If you've ever eaten Argentinean cuisine, you're probably familiar with chimichurri sauce. Diane at Suburbia Unwrapped marinates her favorite cut of grass-fed beef in her favorite recipe, which includes ingredients such as lime, olive oil and freshly chopped herbs.

The Comfort of Cooking
Saucy Barbecue Marinade

Georgia at The Comfort of Cooking has another saucy recipe up her sleeve, and this time, she's all about barbecued chicken. She recommends letting the bird bathe for at least four hours in her tangy BBQ marinade before baking.

Simply Delicious
Cherry Tomato Marinade

Not a meat eater? Try this cherry tomato marinade from Alida Ryder at Simply Delicious. Once jarred in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and herbs, these juicy tomatoes stay fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks, and they taste great atop salads, cheeses and toasted breads. Learn how to make them here.

Cooking Melangery
Herb and Pomegranate Marinade

Yelena at Cooking Melangery loves this lucious lamb recipe. The meat is first rubbed with spices, olice oil and fresh herbs before marinating in pomegranate juice for 24 hours. Try out the recipe here.