Is your pantry well stocked? You’ll know if it is when you can reach in there and create a meal from what you find. Start with meal planning, move to meal prep and create the essential dinner pantry.
A well stocked pantry is the key to healthy eating success. Do you have goals for your family as far as nutrition? Well, did you know that your kitchen could be sabotaging you? It’s true. When you don’t have what you need to prepare nutritious and healthy meals, it becomes easier to pick up that take-out menu and order something up. Unfortunately, the meal won’t be as healthy and will cost more than fixing a meal at home. But, we understand that time is of the essence in the evening and when you don’t have what you need, what can you do?
The Dinner Pantry
We want to rectify this. Every family deserves two things: a healthy meal and a well-stocked pantry. The second can surely help you accomplish the first. Here are some tips to get started.
- Consider what you need – What types of food does your family eat? Create a list of their favorites along with some recipes that you’d like to try. If you are a fan of meal planning, each week your shopping list will vary with the exception of those food items your family likes to eat the most.
- Buy in bulk – The items that you use the most, i.e., sugar, flour, oil, rice, pasta and the like will always be needed. Save money and buy them in larger quantities to be stored in a cool, dry pantry space.
- Season food well when cooking – Using a variety of spices and herbs during the cooking process can eliminate adding more when eating. Too much salt can cause blood pressure issues. Grow your own herb garden or use dried versions of spices like: oregano, thyme, cilantro, cayenne pepper, cumin, rosemary, garlic, ginger, coriander and black pepper.
- Use variety in your stock – Even a small variation can make the difference between boredom and dinner excitement. For example, when talking about pasta, try macaroni, spaghetti, penne, orzo or rotini. As for sauces, try marinara, spaghetti, Alfredo and barbecue. With grains, choose rice, beans, oats, quinoa, barley and legumes. Try your hand at creating a sauce of your own to tantalize their taste buds.
- Plan for busy days – We are not referring to processed foods but canned ingredients. Add items like: chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, canned chilies, canned vegetables, canned meats in water, and canned fruits in water. Fresh is always better but in a pinch these will always make for great substitutions.
- Add freezer items – These can’t live in your pantry but they won’t be far away. Include frozen vegetables, frozen fruit and a wide selection of meat, fish and seafood.
A pantry that accounts for the foods your family eats most along with a few new additions can make dinner a snap.