The Well-Stocked Pantry is the Key to Great Meals @Home
I never leave the house many weekends — I get wrapped up in projects and just run out of time to go to the store. Having a well-stocked pantry helps to make dinner easy and interesting on these nights.
We generally eat vegetarian meals. It’s simple to create some delicious meals using just what you have in the fridge and pantry. I have been known to throw a whole dinner party without going to the grocery store and using just what we had on hand.
I don’t include some items that most people might think of as staples in my list, such as ketchup and mayonnaise. Ketchup has too much sugar for my taste and I use my own homemade tomato jam in its place (look for this recipe this coming summer). I have mayonnaise on hand most of the time and if I don’t, it’s easy to whip up some homemade aioli in its place with ingredients I always have like eggs and oil.
You’ll see some great tricks on my list like buying both course and fine ground pepper and mixing them together. This gives the look of freshly ground pepper to your dishes. I’m not a fan of grinding pepper while cooking since it’s a bit difficult to grind out exactly a teaspoon when needed.
When it comes to breadcrumbs, I only buy Panko (a Japanese style breadcrumb). If I need regular breadcrumbs I will make my own, but most the time Panko can be substituted for regular.
As far as the freezer goes, I typically don’t store a lot there, mainly because I forget to use the stuff I’ve frozen later. I always forget to take into account the defrost time. I do keep a few things like shrimp, tomato paste and butter in the freezer. I buy the cheap little cans of tomato paste and then freeze it in one-tablespoon amounts wrapped in plastic wrap.
Many of my recipes are based on just the basics, such as Pumpkin Cream Tart, Hominy Chili, Peanut Butter and Honey Pancakes, Huevos Rancheros (recipe coming soon). All of these dishes can be prepared with just what’s in your well-stocked pantry. You can take it one step further and prepare my Classic Veggie Burgers and have them in the freezer ready to go when you need them.
If you follow this list, you shouldn’t have any reason not to have great meals at home, anytime!
Coarse and fine pepper – I mix the two together.
Extra virgin olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Pure vanilla extract
Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Chocolate: chips or bar
Long-grain white rice
Breadcrumbs: Panko; plain can be made from old bread.
Pasta: assortment such as penne, spaghetti, shells, couscous, rice stick noodles and egg noodles
Dried Fruits and Butters
Raisins, and cranberries
Flax and chia seeds
Peanut butter and almond butter
Chicken and vegetable broth
Cannellini, garbanzo and black beans
Lentils: dried and canned
Vegetables (canned): hominy, artichoke hearts
Olives and capers
Chiles: chipotles in adobo – once opened, freeze remaining
Salsa- I always have this!
Tomatoes – home-canned or whole plum, as well as diced.
Tomato paste — tube or freeze
Anchovy fillets or fish sauce
Red pepper flakes
Chinese five spice
Paprika: sweet and smoked
Plain Greek Yogurt
Flat-leaf parsley and cilantro
Potatoes: sweet, or Yukon gold
Tomatoes: I only have fresh on hand in season
Brussels sprouts or asparagus
Leafy greens, baby spinach
Lettuce: romaine, Boston or mixed greens
Dijon and whole grain mustards
Asian fish sauce
Toasted sesame oil
Vegetables: peas, spinach and corn
Fruit: berries, peaches
Nuts: almonds, walnuts and pecans
Classic Veggie Burgers
Each section the items are listed by what is most important to least, in my opinion.