Life happened and your meal plan got derailed. Don’t worry, you can still prepare a healthy meal if you keep some simple staples in your pantry. To be prepared for times like these, it’s important to start with a well stocked pantry.
How do you create a well-stocked pantry?
Begin with organization!
Sort your pantry into 5 key sections. Consider using bins to organize your pantry into sections. A well organized pantry not only looks good, but it is more efficient for meal planning and helps you waste less food.
Section 1: NUTS & SEEDS
Include a selection of seeds such as chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Next add some delicious nut butters such as almond butter, cashew butter, pecan butter, and peanut butter. And complete this section by adding nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, and pecans.
Section 2: SAUCES & BROTHS
You’ll want to include these basic broths: vegetable, chicken, beef, and bone. Add a few cans of tomato sauce, pasta sauce and some pumpkin puree. Cans of pumpkin don’t need to be reserved just for Thanksgiving!
Section 3: BEANS & LENTILS
Make sure you have a variety of canned or dried beans such as white, black, kidney, and garbanzo beans. Add some canned green peas, black-eyed peas and a bag of dried lentils.
Section 4: WHOLE GRAINS
This section can really help you round out a healthy meal. Build this section by adding rolled and steel cut oats, black, basmati, and whole grain rice. And don’t forget the red and white quinoa!
Section 5: VEGGIES
Even though these items are not canned, they still have a long shelf life. Fill your bin with sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, garlic and your favorite winter squashes.
This system makes it easy to assess each category bin to see what you have on hand.
These are two dairy-alternative pantry staples I always keep on hand! I can use them in a variety of recipes since they’re great for cooking, baking and drinking. They’re not only delicious, but I can keep them in the pantry until I’m ready to use them.
Are you ready to cook?
Many people eat 2-3 meals every day. And some eat snacks too. Let’s be honest, when preparing for the week, that can feel like a lot of meals to be responsible for! If we let ourselves become worked up over planning and cooking healthy meals, we can often just give up and throw in the dish towel! Don’t let the stress of getting to the grocery store and spending hours cooking get in your way of healthy nourishing meals! Just pick a few key nutritious staples from your well-stocked pantry can help you rustle up something delicious!
Make these 5 Meals with just 5 Ingredients
Don’t have additional ingredients, not a problem! You can keep your flavors super simple by making these recipes with only the five ingredients.
You’ll notice many substitutes throughout the recipes. Be courageous and experiment a little in the kitchen! This is all about using what you have to make the meals as stress-free as possible. If you do not have an ingredient listed, put your thinking cap on and discover what ingredient in your pantry might work instead. Think: Do I really need this ingredient? Can I make it without it? Or can I use a different ingredient I already have? I give you permission to use trial and error in the kitchen!
5 Cup Pesto Pasta
1 cup cooked lentil or bean pasta
1 cup white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup black olives, drained
1 cup green olives, drained
1 cup jarred pesto
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
1 can pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable, chicken, or beef stock
1 24-oz jar marinara pasta sauce
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups arborio rice
Add pumpkin puree, stock, and pasta sauce to medium saucepan, stir, and keep warm over low heat.
Saute onion in a large pot over medium heat with 1 Tbs oil for about 8 mins. Add rice to pot and let cook about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and scoop 1 cup warmed stock mixture into pot and let cook until mixture evaporates and thickens, stirring occasionally. Add another cup of stock mixture to skillet and cook until mixture thickens. Continue adding 1 cup of stock mixture at a time until rice is al dente. This should take about 30-35 minutes.
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Peas & Carrots Fried Rice
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
3 cups cooked rice
1 can carrots, drained and rinsed
1 can peas, drained and rinsed
Saute onion in a large skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbs oil for about 8 mins. Stir in rice, carrots, and peas. Crack eggs into pan and scramble into rice mixture. Continue cooking while stirring until eggs are cooked.
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs coconut aminos
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Oat Bites
1 cup any type of nut butter (such as almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter)
2 cups oats
3 Tbs chia seeds
4 Tbs maple syrup or honey
5 Tbs cacao chips, cacao nibs, or unsweetened shredded coconut
Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine. Scoop into 1 inch balls and tightly roll between hands to pack into balls.
1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 Tbs cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt
Chickpea Cashew Curry
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbs curry powder
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cashew milk, or any non-dairy milk such as almond milk or coconut milk
Saute onion in a large skillet over medium heat with 1 Tbs oil for about 8 mins. Stir in curry powder. Add diced tomatoes and chickpeas. Cook for about 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in cashew milk and cook for about 8-10 more minutes.
Top it with:
2 Tbs cashews
2 Tbs fresh cilantro or green onions, chopped
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Basmati or any type of rice or cauliflower rice
Choosing to make simple meals with pantry staples can eliminate your stress at meal time! There is no need to sacrifice nutritious food when you are in a pinch. Make these recipes to have wholesome meals on the table in a jiff!
Happy Cooking in 2021!
Recipes © 2021 Aubrey H. Moore, DCN, RDN
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