Have you ever opened your pantry 30 minutes before dinner was supposed to be ready, only to find that you were out of everything? Well, maybe not everything, but sliced almonds, cake icing and a bag of potato chips just wouldn’t cut it for a rounded meal. Staples, such as dried fruit, pasta and canned tomatoes are essential to every pantry. Without these base foods, we, as cooks, are at a loss when it comes time for dinner.
Staples are the Heart of the Pantry
Staple foods are great for 5 reasons:
Make Meal Planning Easy – It is great to have a stocked pantry. Walk over, take a quick peek inside and automatically know what you plan on cooking for the whole week. Pasta with meat sauce on Monday, Beans and Rice on Tuesday and so on. This allows you to save time when the schedule gets busy, by having food readily available that doesn’t take forever to cook.
Rescue For Last Minute Meals – You forgot to take the pot roast out of the freezer this morning. It is now exactly 30 minutes until dinner time and even if you soaked the hunk of meat in boiling water, there is no way it will thaw and be able to cook by then. What to do? What. To. Do? Having your pantry stocked with staple foods allows these last minute meals to take the stress off of you. Go grab some canned chicken, salsa and some Orzo and make a Southwestern chicken pasta dish in less than 30 minutes.
Cooking On A Budget – Staple foods are generally cheap. Everyone uses them so many stores mark them way down to get people in the door. Staple foods are also good when it comes to cooking on a budget. Because they are so affordable and can be used as the base to a huge number of dishes, they are great to have around in a frugal kitchen.
Feeding Large Groups Of People – Food is a great way to build relationships. Oddly enough, everyone likes food and they all know someone who can and should be invited to come have some; at your place. Next thing you know, the neighborhood is lined up in your living room and you were only planning to cook for two. Staple foods to the rescue. You need only look to your pantry for welcome relief. It truly is amazing how many people a couple boxes of pasta can actually feed.
Provide Comfort – It is amazing to look how many comfort foods came from standard pantry items. Take for instance, tomato soup and grilled cheese; or mashed potatoes and gravy; or even biscuits and jam. Most of the foods known for their ability to whisk you back to days of ole’ had to apply the same standards then, as they do today. They have to be affordable, be able to feed large groups of people, store easily and make cooking a breeze.
Staple foods are easy to store, last for a while, and make preparing a healthy dinner easy and affordable. The best thing to do is to keep your pantry filled with staple foods at all times. Doing so will make life much easier, and not to mention, will give you some peace of mind if you ever get caught in a storm.
What's On Hand in Your Arsenal of Food
If you went over and looked in your pantry, what would you find? Do the same thing with your refrigerator and freezer. Now take a look in the cabinet that you keep all the junk food stashed in – ok, close that cabinet, it won’t help any with what we are about to do.
Chances are, if you are the average home, you probably have some basic ingredients that are kept well stocked in case there is a rushed day. You know the ingredients that you can pull out at a moment’s notice and whip something together that will nutritiously satisfy your family for a night while you make sure to actually take out the pot roast so it can defrost this time.
The next time you are stuck trying to pull together a last minute dinner, stop for a second and think about the ingredients you are using. Could you add in another vegetable or try brazing instead of pan-frying to change the entire taste and texture of your emergency meal?
The tongue has about 10,000 taste buds; you would be surprised how quick it becomes accustomed to flavors and textures. Shortly after that, boredom sets in and the tongue awaits something new to experience. In order to keep your tongue on its toes, figuratively speaking of course, it is always a great idea to change things up. This change can be as easy as working a new ingredient into a well-known dish.
Some of the world’s greatest dishes came from experimenting with certain foods. Take, for instance, the waffle cone or the potato chip. Both of these classics were invented by mistake. People playing around and experimenting with the ingredients they already had on hand turned out with a new product that was completely unique. Both of these are now huge successes around the world. Let’s take a look at what you may have in your pantry or fridge and see what new ideas can be formulated.
Pasta is a food that most people have in their arsenal of common foods. Next time you fix pasta, try adding in some raisins and olives for the sweet and salty feel of a slightly Mediterranean dish.
Run out of milk? That’s ok, just use yogurt to replace the liquid content in your cereal. Incorporate some bakers chocolate into your next batch of chili and deep fry the pickles in some flour before topping your next burger, for a different kind of crunch. There are many different ways to spice up your arsenal of food; it just takes a little creativity to keep out the mundane.
Step into the kitchen; pick up your pan and oven mitt and start adding in new ingredients. Don’t be afraid to try something completely out of the ordinary, after all, there are always the frozen pizzas as a quick and easy back up to a meal gone awry. Just stay away from the junk food cabinet unless you plan on a Twinkie Cheesecake – although regular potato chips make a great coating for fried chicken.