How many times have you come home from work to hungry mouths, only to find the kitchen barren and inspiration lost? How many times has that ended up at a fast food joint or with take-out in front of the television? It’s just far too easy a mistake to make. Keeping the house stocked with food for quick, easy meals can seem like a military operation, full of checklists and mason jars. But all it takes is a few pantry staples, and you’ve got easy, healthy family meals in no time. Here are some pantry must-haves, and why they’re perfect for the family kitchen.
When you’re throwing a dish into the crockpot, throw some lentils, pearl barley, or chickpeas in, and your meal will stretch further without losing any of its nutritious value. Pulses are a genius addition to the kitchen pantry, especially if money is a bit tight. Fair enough, they take a bit of time to cook, but there is nothing better for bulking out stews, casseroles, and pies. And they’re great, low calories additions which are packed full of protein and fiber, perfect for the whole family.
When you roll in from an awful day at work, with a headache that makes you want to curl up and cry, and you still have a family to feed, that’s when tinned tomatoes come into their own. Chop up an onion, add some olives, garlic, and capers, throw in the tinned tomatoes and some pasta, et voila, a simple, healthy, and delicious meal which will keep everyone going, and all in all it took about ten minutes to cook. They can go in stews, soups, bolognese, meatball sauce, chili – absolutely anything. They’re the perfect pantry staple.
Pasta and rice
When you have no time to cook, pasta and rice are like a reassuring, edible hug. Cooked through in less than 15 minutes, with a whole world of different flavors and sauces that can be added, they’re every mom’s go-to carb for a good reason. Try a simple tuna pasta bake, with oodles of cheese on top of course. You could even knock together a simple burrito bowl in less than twenty minutes, cooking chicken and chopping salsa while the rice simmers slowly.
What would we do without seasoning? Not just salt and pepper – however necessary and wonderful they are – but herbs, spices, and all manner of delicious condiments too. When you’re in a rush, but you still want to create a delicious and healthy meal for the family, seasoning is the future. It adds depth of flavor, interest, and spice to a dish which otherwise might just be meat and vegetables. Be sure to have mustard, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, curry powder, and some Italian herb seasoning, at the very least.
Tinned tuna, salmon, and sardines
Finally, when time is of the essence, there is nothing quicker than a tuna mayo sandwich for feeding hungry mouths. It’s healthy, cheap, quick, and you can make it with everything you have in the pantry. They’re also perfect for throwing into pasta dishes, and delicious too!