It's 5 o'clock and it's that dreaded question, What's for dinner?' You haven't gone grocery shopping in over a week and your pantry is bare... or so you think.
This is an all to familiar situation for many. But if you have a pantry stocked with some basic staples then you probably have countless meals at your fingertips. Having and maintaining a well-stocked pantry (fridge and freezer) actually requires very little time and money to manage.
Basic pantry staples will depend on your family's tastes and preferences, however, below is some suggestions to get you started.
- Spices/dried herbs. These are essential for any kitchen. Buying a spice rack prefilled with spices is a great way to start and can be refilled or enhanced with additional spices when needed.
- Baking ingredients. Flour, sugar, butter and milk are all great things to have on hand when that cookie craving calls! And even if you are not an avid baker these items will help you make the perfect sauce, gravy, or homemade pizza dough.
- Rice/Pasta. Pasta is probably the quickest and easiest dish to whip up when short on time and ingredients. Pasta, frozen veggies and olive oil is a light bit filling meal and is on the table in minutes. Rice makes a great side to most dishes and can even be the main course if turned into a risotto or fried rice.
- Canned beans. Beans are an excellent and inexpensive source of protein. Add them to burritos, soups, chili, or just serve them over rice.
- Canned or frozen precooked meats. Precooked meatballs, chicken, or ground beef (whether store bought or cooked and frozen yourself) are great ways to throw together a last minute meal because all you have to do is defrost. Canned chicken and tuna also works well to feed a hungry crowd in a pinch.
These Asian Noodles use very basic pantry staples and would be a great meal on their own or accompanying some teriyaki chicken!
Chef Heather attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother's kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com