Pantry Staples for Quick and Easy Meals

pantry staples

You can’t put together a meal without ingredients, and you can’t put together a quick meal unless you already have ingredients on-hand.  Keeping plenty of simple foods in my pantry and freezer is the primary way I ensure we eat healthy meals at home on most nights.  Here are my pantry staples:

  • quick-cooking grain like quinoa or whole wheat couscous (these cook in just 5-10 min!)
  • canned beans (black for Mexican dinners, garbanzos for salads, white beans for making dips or adding to pasta)
  • extra virgin olive oil and canola oil (olive for dressings & Italian, canola for baking & Asian/Mexican cooking)
  • rice, balsamic, and one other vinegar (for dressings, adding to soups/cooked dishes that need a flavor boost)
  • peanut and/or almond butter (mixed with rice vinegar & soy sauce, these make a great stir-fry sauce)
  • dried spices — oregano, thyme, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, nutmeg (these are really all I use)
  • kosher or sea salt & black pepper
  • chicken or vegetable broth (for soups, flavoring cooked grains, adding to dressings & sauces)
  • onions — these last for a long time and can be added to nearly anything
  • canned diced tomatoes (for soups, stews, salsa, meat dishes, or when we don’t have fresh tomatoes)
  • marinara sauce (not just for pasta! for meats, grains, and to top polenta or spaghetti squash)
  • jarred pesto, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and/or olives (you need 1 or 2 of these at a time for salads, appetizers, or to spread on sandwiches)
  • Dijon mustard (for salad dressings, sandwiches, flavoring sauces, and smothering on salmon)
  • honey and maple syrup (for dressings, sauces, adding to tea or baked goods)
  • nuts – walnuts, sliced almonds, and/or pecans (for adding to salads, oatmeal, yogurt)
  • dried fruit – golden raisins, prunes, and dried apricots or apples (for stews, meats, salads, yogurt, or granola)
  • baking soda and baking powder
  • flour of some sort – all-purpose, whole wheat, pastry flour, cornmeal (for quick breads, muffins, and pancakes)
  • oat bran or rolled oats (for hot cereal, adding to muffins, pancakes, and breads)

Tomorrow I’ll post my freezer and fridge staples, because you need some items in each place if you want to whip up quick, easy, and healthy meals!

1 Comment

  • Deana
    January 4, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Great list!

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