I was having lunch with some mom friends and their kids at a friends’ home last Friday when the topic turned to grocery shopping, menu planning and pantry staples. A friend of mine commented, “I think I need to go grocery shopping with you.” When I asked her why, she shared that she wanted to know what was in my pantry to help get meals to the table fast.
I don’t have a large pantry. In fact, my “pantry” is more of a glorified broom closet that has been fitted with door shelves and other items to maximize the space. I actually covet the pantry that Ellie Krieger has on the show “Healthy Appetite.” In fact, I would venture to guess her pantry is larger than some kitchens out there, but I digress.
To help get meals to the table fast and to help with menu planning, I do have a cadre of items that I stockpile as best I can. These are items like canned beans, canned diced tomatoes, dried pastas and sauces that can help whip up a meal fast in a pinch. But my “pantry” also extends into long-life items that I keep in our refrigerator (think barbeque sauce, marinades and such) and also fresh items that I always keep on hand because we use them quickly enough to warrant their ever-presence.
Another “pantry” area we use to help store foods is our chest freezer in our basement. Graciously donated to me by a friend, I love, love my chest freezer. It isn’t overly large, but just large enough to hold frozen meats and shredded cheese that I buy in bulk when they are on sale as well as things like large batch leftovers.
So without further adieu, here are my staple items I almost always have on hand (I keep them on hand and then restock my supply when the items go on sale):
Whole wheat couscous
Quick cooking grits
Dried beans (usually black, lentil, great northern)
Jarred spaghetti/pasta sauce/marinara
Canned diced tomatoes
Canned tomato sauce
Canned beans (chickpeas, black, kidney, great northen)
Canned corn, peas and green beans
Apple cider vinegar
Spice mixes (jerk seasoning, steak seasoning, etc)
Jarred pre-minced ginger (doesn’t get a weird flavor like pre-minced garlic)
Applesauce (good for eating and baking)
Eggs (we go through them crazy fast)
Boxed, pre-washed spinach
Whole Wheat tortillas
Whole Wheat pita
Meat and poultry—whatever has been on sale
So for what it is worth, I hope you enjoyed my pantry list. I find myself at least once a week doing a “freezer or pantry dive” to find something to make quick. With these items on hand, it makes the whole weeknight dinner routine a lot less stressful.