A delicious, nutritious meal is easy to prepare on the day you come home from the grocery store. But as the food dwindles, the urge to order take-out or grab unhealthy frozen pizza grows. Unplanned meals are a way of life. You may not have a personal chef, but with the right pantry you can have great meals that are good for you at a moment’s notice! Great recipes start with a few key ingredients that you can pick up weekly. The secret is adding those ingredients with items already on hand.
A well-stocked pantry isn’t only conducive to a slimmer waist, but it helps fatten the wallet. Over time having supplies becomes more cost-effective. Also, you aren’t racking up extra dollars in the grocery column of your budget!
Feeling a little anxious because your cabinets are bare? Stocking a pantry doesn’t have to done all at once. Make a plan. Give yourself 4-6 weeks to get your pantry in shape. You can spread out the shopping accordingly.
15 items that will get your pantry off to a great start:
- Olive oil makes the difference in a recipe as well as adding good fats and antioxidants in your diet
- Whole grain pastas have come a long way in the taste department and cook in minutes
- Chicken/vegetable/fish stock aren’t necessary as a group, but keep at least one on hand
- Brown rice or whatever healthy grain appeals to you (barley, bulghur, couscous, quinoa)
- Beans, beans and more beans (I keep dried and canned) chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, pinto and black eye peas are in mine
- Lettuce like spring greens are appealing because they stay fresh and make any salad a bit more special, but romaine works just as well
- Vinegar like balsamic can be used in everything from salad dressing to roasted veggies
- Dijon mustard can be used as part of a marinade or salad dressing in an instant
- 1 or two vegetables that keep well (bell peppers or fresh green beans)
- Canned tomatoes can be used for sauces, on tortillas etc…
- Frozen spinach or kale can be added to rice and pasta for an easy meal
- Onions are a quick (and cheap) easy way to add flavor without a ton of calories
- Garlic that is fresh jazzes up any recipe from salad to fish to grilled veggies
- Dried spices like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon, kosher salt and pepper are critical. You can also add cumin, cayenne and tarragon if the basics are reside in your spice cabinet.
- Eggs are great for a quick breakfast or a brunch fritatta
Bonus points for:
Canned tuna, fruits (apples, berries), dried fruits and nuts, firm tofu, corn tortillas and good whole grain bread