Life is busy, and getting dinner on the table every night can be a struggle. But restaurants and takeout are expensive and not very healthy options. With a well-stocked pantry and a little planning, you can offer a fast, nutritious meal any night of the week.
One thing I’ve learned from feeding a busy family of five is to keep my pantry, fridge and freezer stocked with an assortment of ingredients that lend themselves to simple meals.
For example, I buy chicken and beef when on sale, take it out of the packaging, put it in heavy-duty resealable plastic bags and freeze. (By laying the packages flat, they’ll defrost in far less time.) I always cook a few extra chicken breasts or steaks to use in a meal the next day. Frozen shrimp go on sale quite often, so I stock up when the price is right.
Flavored oils and vinegars add dimension and flavor without adding to the cooking time. You can make simple pasta and pan sauces with very few ingredients. By having things on hand, you will spend less money and have healthy, nutritious meals that you can feel good about feeing your family.
I keep a generous supply of these items at all times:
Pasta, polenta, rice, canned beans and lentils, canned tomatoes, oils, vinegars, mustards, olives, capers, maple syrup, peanut butter, jellies and jams, condiments, spices, dried herbs and spices, nuts, dried fruits, chicken and beef stock
Cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, blue), cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, butter, fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs and garlic
Chicken, steaks, shrimp, fish, ground turkey, pesto, frozen vegetables (broccoli, spinach, corn, green beans)