Monday, January 23, 2012

A Well-Stocked Pantry

As usual, I watched a bunch of shows on The Food Network this weekend. I can't help it; it's good TV. Plus I have no guilt about watching cooking shows because I think of them as educational. How do you think I learned to try stuff in the kitchen?

One theme that kept popping up show after show (after show...) was cooking from your pantry. I am a huge fan of pantry cooking for several reasons: 1.) It allows me to be lazy. It's January in Wisconsin, and it's COLD. Sometimes I just can't be bothered to leave the house. 2.) It forces me to be thrifty. If I use up the ingredients I have on hand before I head back to the store, less food goes to waste. 3.) It encourages creativity. Some of my all-time favorite meals have been inventions of desperation. You never know when you're going to come up with something great!

For today's post, I'm jumping on the pantry bandwagon. Below I've listed my pantry staples and a few recipes to go along with them.

Canned Beans:
Protein-packed and simple, canned beans are a regular dinner hero at our house. Try Quinoa with Corn and Black BeansBlack Bean and Cheese Chimichangas, or Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos.

Frozen Pizza
Do I really need to explain this one any further?

The husband and I always buy a giant chunk of cheddar when we go to Costco. It keeps well in the fridge as long as I keep it tightly wrapped. I shred cheddar for Mom's Cheesy Potatoes and slice it for Ham and Cheese Toasties. Then there's goat cheese. Stir crumbles into Penne with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese or use it for a super easy appetizer, Pesto Goat Cheese Spread.

Dried Cranberries:
I have sung the praises of dried cranberries many times. I eat them by the handful as a sweet and tangy treat, stir them into Creamy Oatmeal for a chewy burst of flavor, and add them to salads for beautiful color and flavor. And have you ever combined dried cranberries and quinoa? You've gotta try Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Squash, Cranberries, and Pecans.

Frozen Peas:
In junior high school, my BFF and I used to snack on peas straight from the freezer. Not only is this pantry staple perfect for pre-teen grazing, they add color and nutrients to just about any meal. Stir them into pasta, tuna salad, soup, or Shepherd's Pie.

I always keep flour or corn tortillas in my freezer. They are the perfect start to so many meals: Green Chile Chicken EnchiladasBaked Chicken ChimichangasLazy Beef Enchiladas, or Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas.

Canned Tuna
This pantry staple isn't just for tuna salad sandwiches in your lunch sack. Add drained and flaked tuna to pasta like I do in Balsamic Tuna Salad. Or go old-school and try re-vamped Tuna Noodle Casserole.


  1. I have all those minus frozen pizza. Not for me, somehow!

  2. Yep, those are all my standards too..... along with walnuts, an assortment of pasta and lots of olives!

  3. We don't do much canned tuna and never frozen pizza, but we definitely do the rest. Cartons of chicken broth are also a must-have item for me. Cool list!

  4. I can't get my kids to eat any canned beans, veggies, soup or pasta from a can; they will eat tuna and tomatoes from a can. I keep dried beans on hand, every form of canned tomatoes, beef, chicken and vegetable stock in the freezer, and lots of dry pasta. I keep meatballs, shredded chicken, pitas, tortillas, hotdog buns and bagels in the freezer for quick sandwiches and soups. I make large batches of waffles, French toast and pancakes to freeze and have a cupboard of cereal like no other (stocks in general mills any one).I also do huge batches of muffins to keep in the freezer and huge batches of pizza dough that I also keep in the freezer. I like to keep every dry spice heard of, many extracts and every flour type on hand, I also like to keep a collection of chocolates and dried fruit and canned puree like pumpkin and apple in the cupboard and of course high heat and low heat oils. It gives me room to go from a large dinner to something fast and quick if the day became unexpected busy or the kids come in ready to eat the counters. It is a bit of a challenge where my kids will not eat premade packaged anything, not even pizza. So I took to large batch cooking things that kids love like French toast for breakfast. Pop it in the toaster and they have breakfast in 2 minutes. It works well for working couples, have waffles on the weekend and just make extra for the freezer.

  5. Great post! Once you realize how easy it is to whip up a quick and healthy meal from having a few essentials on hand, it's hard to imagine why one wouldn't keep a stocked pantry. Your recipe inspiration for each item are great!

  6. Excellent pantry suggestions, everyone! Sherry, I love your idea of keeping waffles and other breakfast foods in the freezer. There's no excuse to hurry out the door without breakfast when it's so handy.

  7. I agree with your pantry list a lot.

    We love the dried cranberries from Costco. Aside from cooking with them now and then, they are great item to add to salad, especially during the winter.

    Also, while not on your list, quinoa is great to have around. We even cook it in the microwave with a microwave rice cooker.