Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Every Kitchen Should Have - Part I: The Pantry.

This has been a very busy week for Living Well.  I started my classes for this semester, submitted an application for a speciality assignment, and well, what else is new with 4 kids, a full time job, and a husband?  

So, while I was in deep thought for this blog, I was thinking, if I listed what every kitchen should have, all the things you should have, then the list would go on forever, so I'm going to divide this up into several segments, the first one being what you should always have in your pantry, in your spices, in your baking rack, in your refrigerator, and finally, necessary kitchen gadgets.  

So, let's get started, shall we?

1) Whole Grain, Brown, or White Rice - to use a side dish, main dish, soup additive.  

2) Dry Pasta, Whole Grain, or Enriched - to use as a side dish, main dish, soup additive
3) Diced Tomatoes, Whole Tomatoes, or Stewed Tomatoes (2-3 cans) - You never know when you'll have short time on your hands and need to throw together a soup or chili.
4) Tomato Paste (1-2 cans) - for homemade spaghetti sauce or chili.
5) Plain Tomato Sauce  (1-2 cans)- Again, for soup, chili, or spaghetti sauce.
6) Emergency Spaghetti Sauce (1 can, or Jar) - For when you don't have time to make your own.
7) Canned Beans (Kidney, Pintos, White Beans) - very versatile.  Soups, chili, salads, what ever you can think of.
8) Dry beans - For those days when all you want is a big ole pot of beans and cornbread for dinner.
9) Cream of Soups (mushroom, chicken, celery, potato, etc.  At least 1 of each, or 2 of the ones that you use the most) - Casseroles, one pot dishes, pot pies, etc
10) Canned Mixed Veggies (Veg-All) - I normally keep two cans of these on hand whenever I need to make  a quick chicken vegetable soup, or beef vegetable soup, or pot pie.
11) Quick Oats - I can't say enough about this breakfast staple.  (Notice I didn't say instant oatmeal.)  I've learned how to make the flavors that I love for just pennies a serving, not to mention it can be used in breads, home made granola, etc.
12) Cheerios, Chex Mix, or any cereal that isn't too sweet.  Not only can this be made for breakfast, but also snack mixes, school snacks, and thrown into yogurt for an extra crunch.
13) Peanut Butter - Good for school lunches, a quick snack, thrown into a protein shake, or a smoothie for the kids.
14) Soup Crackers (Saltines) - Good for those soup and sandwich nights.
15) Ritz or Club Crackers - Top with peanut butter or cheese for a quick after school snack, or use a few and top with tuna for lunch.
16) Canned Tuna or Chicken - sandwiches, salads, dips, etc.

Those are the items that every pantry should have.  You can add to or take away from this list as needed, or use this list verbatim.  The point is, once you organize your pantry with the key ingredients that you use the most, then the list of dinner combinations are endless.  It's easy to replace these items as you need to, and this is a good 'getcha started' list.  Whenever I move to another duty station, I make sure to stock up on these items on my very first grocery trip.

Another bonus to these items, they are often featured on coupons.  Normally, the coupon will say, $1 off of 4, and normally you don't need for cans of tomato sauce.  However: if you are stocking, or restocking your pantry, then this is a great place to use those coupons. hint, hint.

COMING UP NEXT WEEK: Why You Should or Should Not Purchase a Keurig.

COMING UP IN NEXT MONTH: Cooking Like the Cracker Barrel: Chicken and Dumplins.

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