Top Strategies for a Well-Stocked Pantry

Long work days and hectic schedules may have you scrambling to get dinner on the table. On days like that, you may this it’s easier to order take-out than running to the supermarket to grab ingredients for a family meal. I have a few suggestions to make your life a little easier!

Make a List

• Having a pantry that is chock-full of all the basic ingredients you may need will make handling weeknight meals a cinch. If your family is anything like mine, you have a few meals that everyone always enjoys, and a few that are less popular but are easy to prepare.

• Start by making a list of what the family’s favorite meals are. Get the whole family involved so you get a variety of ideas and opinions. This will also help you determine what’s popular and who likes which foods better.

• Ask your family what kinds of recipes they’d like to experiment with. You can brainstorm off of the meals from the previous conversation, or ask everyone to print out a recipe they’d like to try. This is a great way to find new family favorites.

• Come up with a general list of ingredients for the recipes. Which ingredients can you purchase ahead of time and keep in the pantry? This won’t be feasible with all meals, but it will provide the foundation building blocks, and you can work from there.

Make a Plan

Hectic schedules make cooking-on-the-fly a challenge. Plan your meals for the week before you do your grocery shopping. If you come up with three or four meals, you can buy fresh ingredients like produce and meats and use them before they spoil. Fruits and vegetables have the highest food-waste rates of all foods globally!

List anything you need to buy fresh and check your pantry before you purchase anything pre-packaged. Try to cook in bulk, so you won’t have to cook every day and there will be leftovers for lunch and snacks. If ingredients are on sale, consider stocking up, cooking large batches, and freezing extras in single-serving containers for another quick meal solution.

Some people like to cook several times a week, but life gets in the way sometimes! Consider cooking a day or two a week, depending on your schedule, and do your cooking in that window so you can spend time doing other things, too.

Be Prepared

When all else fails, you can always check the internet for recipe suggestions. If you keep your pantry stocked with a few essentials, you can whip something up in no time. Below is a list of non-perishable basics to consider keeping on-hand. You can cater it to meet your own taste, too!

• Baking items: Flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract

• Condiments: Mustard – Dijon and whole grain, salsa, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sriracha, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar

• Oils: Extra virgin olive oil for garnish, olive oil and canola oil for cooking, sesame oil
• Seasonings: Basil – fresh or dried, thyme – fresh or dried, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, ginger – fresh or dried, curry powder, red pepper flakes, no-salt seasoning, chili powder
• Canned items: Canned fruit in its own juice, low-sodium canned beans and vegetables, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, green and black olives

• Non-perishable: Chicken and/or vegetable broth, coconut milk, whole wheat pasta, lentils, brown rice, dried fruits, nuts and nut butters.

• Freezer items: Frozen vegetables and fruit, unsweetened

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