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For my family, having a well-stocked pantry, freezer, and refrigerator is a necessity. We live over a half hour from the nearest town, so we try our best to stock up on things and prevent unnecessary trips to town for one or two items. Our well-stocked pantry, which for my purposes includes the pantry, cupboards, fridge, and freezer, helps us get meals on the table fast while saving money. My basic tips will help you build a well-stocked pantry of your own!
By keeping basic ingredients in our well-stocked pantry, we eat delicious, nourishing meals with minimal effort. These basic ingredients can be turned into dozens of different meals. By utilizing your basic ingredients, which may be slightly different than mine, you too can make entire meals utilizing your cupboards, freezer, and fridge.
Save Money with a Well-Stocked Pantry
While dining out is a fun thing from time to time, we all know eating at home is much less expensive. Having a well-stocked pantry not only allows for quick and easy cooking but will also provide you with options for those times when you didn’t plan ahead or your day truly fell apart. (We all have those days!)
A well-stocked pantry will also let you take advantage of sales. I’ve shared my pantry principles before, where the entire goal of shopping is to refill the pantry with cooking staples. Once you know your staples, you can take advantage of sales and even coupons. There are certain foods I check for each time I shop, looking for rock-bottom prices. Foods that I know we’ll use. My list includes:
- Canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, and pureed)
- Pasta, assorted varieties
- Canned fish: tuna, salmon, anchovies, sardines, and oysters
- Frozen veggies: broccoli, spinach, mixed, stir-fry, etc.
- Canned vegetables and beans: corn, green beans, black beans, olives
- Butter (for the freezer)
- Peanut butter
- Coconut milk
- Long-lasting produce: potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onions, garlic
You might be wondering how I developed my list of basic ingredients. I simply look for the ingredients in my favorite easy-to-make dishes! By having a list of tried-and-true recipes that we make week in and week out, I not only have an almost ready-made shopping list but I’m also comfortable cooking these dishes.
There are even several dishes in our regular repertoire that we consider to be my husband’s specialties. One of our favorites meals, and something we make sure to keep the necessary ingredients on hand for, is what we call Joe’s Special. It’s something like a cabbage roll in a bowl. Super easy, economical, and delicious. You can find a loose recipe for Joe’s Special on my March Meal Plan Ideas: For the Love of Cabbage post. Scroll down to the Week 1 Notes.
Having a well-stocked pantry, plus a collection of recipes you are comfortable with, is an excellent time saver. Not only will you save time by not needing to run to the market, but you’ll also save time by not needing to figure out the steps of the recipe.
Another benefit to keeping a well-stocked pantry is, when you do need to make a trip to the store, it tends to take less time . You may already have a lot of what you need, bought at rock-bottom pricing during a great sale. At least that is the goal with the pantry principle and a well-stocked pantry.
I’ve also found my pantry makes meal planning quicker and easier. When I’m making a meal plan, I shop the pantry (fridge and freezer) first.
The Basics of a Well-Stocked Pantry
Each home cook has their own way of doing things. Each household too! Your family may have personal dietary needs or restrictions. You may have a preferred style of eating such as low-fat, low-carb, Keto, or something else. Your basics should reflect these needs.
My suggestions are what works in my household. We lean toward whole, real, traditionally prepared foods but do keep some quick (think processed) foods on hand for true meal emergencies. A jar of pasta sauce, a can of anchovies, a can of olives, a few capers and spices, along with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, served over spaghetti noodles has given us a meal in about 20 minutes many times. (I call this my easy Pasta Puttanesca, though it’s nothing like a gourmet version…still delicious!)
Easy Pantry Meals
You’ll want to develop a list of easy meals you can make with ingredients you keep on hand. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started:
- No-Cook Angel Hair Pasta and Marinated Tomato Salad
- Barley Soup
- Sprouted Lentil Tacos
- Garbanzo Bean Curry
- Middle Eastern White Beans and Rice (Fasooli)
- Creamy Black Bean Soup
- Super Flexible Stuffed Burritos
- Joe’s Special (Scroll down to Week 1 Notes)
- Quinoa Enchilada Baked Eggs (Plus Egg-Free Variation)
- Butterscotch Rice or Butterscotch Oatmeal
- Creamy Corn Casserole
- Eggs in Marinara
Want More Great Pantry Meals?
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