It’s easy to run out of ideas for meals, especially when you don’t have time to do your meal prep for the week. The secret to building a nutritious dinner at home is to stock your pantry with simple, key ingredients. These core ingredients are the “building blocks” of any good recipe and can be mixed and matched in many combinations.
Here’s a list of 4 essential categories: seasonings, oils and vinegar, canned goods, and rice and grains.
Did you know salt is the only mineral that people eat? No pantry is complete without it! Build a great spice rack by starting with these foundational herbs and spices.
· Sea salt
· Black pepper
· Cayenne pepper
· Onion powder
· Garlic powder
· Curry powder
· Bay leaves
· Ground cinnamon
Oils and Vinegar
When cooking in a frying pan you typically need oil, a highly versatile ingredient. Oil and vinegar can also be used as a base for homemade salad dressings. Yum!
· Extra virgin olive oil
· Vegetable oil
· Apple cider vinegar
· Red wine vinegar
· Balsamic vinegar
· Rice vinegar (unseasoned)
This category tends to have a long shelf life. Keeping a variety of broths, beans, vegetables, and tomatoes (yes, botanically speaking tomatoes are fruit) on hand will save the day on numerous occasions.
· Broth: chicken, beef or vegetable
· Beans: cannellini, navy, chickpeas or black
· Vegetables: corn or green beans
· Tomatoes and salsa
Rice and Grains
We appreciate rice and grains because they’re cost-effective ingredients that can be served in a variety of ways. Our favorite grain alternative? Quinoa. Quinoa is considered a gluten-free “superfood” due to its high nutritional content.
· Rice: white rice or brown rice
· Grains: bulgur, couscous, farro or quinoa
· Pasta: regular, whole grain, rice noodles or egg noodles
· Breadcrumbs: plain or panko
REFRIDGERATOR AND FREEZER ESSENTIALS
Complete your stockpile with items from 4 refrigerated categories.
Naturally, produce will have a shorter shelf-life than most of the pantry items above. Keep these basics on hand in small quantities: onions, potatoes, garlic, and lemons or limes. Also consider fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges.
You can bring simple meals to life with things like milk, eggs, and cheese, and plant-based substitutes. Just choose your favorites from this category and keep them handy!
Spreadable items can be used as simple spreads, or for cooking, sauces, and dessert. These staples never go out of style. Think butter, cream cheese, nut butters and jams. Don’t forget basic condiments like ketchup, mustard, pickles and mayonnaise.
The quickest cooking proteins usually come from ground options, regardless of source. You can make ground “meat” into many things. Popular options include beef, turkey, or plant-based substitutes.
To conclude, regardless of your level of skill in the kitchen, pantry items are incredibly useful. To learn more about healthy diet, cooking, and nutrition, consider enrolling in one of our virtual webinars below:
We’ll see you online. Cheers!