How many times have you found yourself standing in front of your pantry, ready to cook dinner, but realize that you can’t turn anything in front of you into a balanced meal? Maybe, you think to yourself, you lack that special kitchen vision–the ability to find the meal in anything. Or perhaps you just haven’t stocked up on the kitchen staples that will help you turn even canned ham (not that we ever suggest you put canned ham on the table) into something your family will love. Don’t stress out. Here are a few quick strategies!
What goes into the well-stocked pantry?
1. Shelf-Stable Pantry Basics
The easiest way to reduce the almost-meal-time anxiety is to always keep foods on hand that are easy to prepare, nutritious and have a long shelf life. By staying on top of this list you’ll reduce the number of last minute grocery runs, and always have something healthy and quick within reach. Here are the shelf-stable ingredients I always have on hand, and some recipe ideas!
Nuts and seeds
I like to add a small handful of nuts to school lunch from time to time and I always have Fruit and Seed Bars on hand in the freezer for an easy snack.
Baking powder, Baking soda, Olive oil, and Kosher salt are all essential ingredients to have on hand for everyday cooking and baking.
This isn’t exactly shelf-stable, but we go to the farmer’s market once a week and buy enough fresh fruits and vegetables to have on hand to add to meals the entire week. On the rare occasion that we bought more than we could finish, I like to puree them up into smoothies and fruit leather.
2. Refrigerator and Freezer Basics
Keep your favorite style on hand for your morning cereal, coffee, or to add to any recipe. We love vanilla almond milk, coconut coffee creamer, and good old fashioned cow’s milk.
3. Family Favorites
Aside from the basics, the go-tos for what should be in your cupboards are the foods you and your family like best. Keep a list of the family favorites on your pantry door (the healthy ones, at least) and keep these ingredients handy at all times. This will help you recognize when you’re down on certain meal or snacktime essentials, keep things stocked, and ensure that quick bites or yummy meals are never too far from the table. These are our family favorites_
Organic Ketchup and Ranch Dressing
Sometimes serving a dip is just what the kids need in order to try a new food or finish their dinner.
Good, healthy meals don’t need to come from a professional kitchen. They don’t need fancy ingredients like saffron or truffle oils. Stock your pantry with these versatile basics, and you’re on your way to making quick meals when time is short and the kids are hungry.