Tips for Building Up Food Storage and What to Keep in Your Pantry
Cooking at home doesn’t have to be complicated.
We’ve all had the dreaded dinner battle with our kids (or even ourselves) to convince them there is food at home when driving by a favorite restaurant. But let’s face it—the question, “What’s for dinner?” is so much easier to answer with ordering takeout instead of making a meal plan, buying ingredients, and forcing yourself to get back up off the couch to cook after a long day at work!
Luckily, when you have the basics at home, whether from your food storage, or just extra staple foods in the pantry, cooking with what you have on hand can be a lifesaver. And it’s much more simple than you might think.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Build your food storage
It pays to be prepared. The idea of food storage can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If the storage areas in your house are thick with cobwebs, start adding to your stockpile slowly and steadily with these tips:
• Start by deciding on a few recipes that are simple and that you and your family like to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then stock up on the ingredients for those meals. Then repeat every so often with different recipes.
• Give yourself a small amount of money to budget every week for food storage items.
• Pick up a few extra nonperishable foods when you go shopping.
• Take advantage of coupons or special sales, especially for food you can freeze.
Pretty soon you will have a whole smorgasbord of food!
Stock up on staple pantry foods
To save you from wailing in despair when you realize you are out of flour in the middle of baking homemade bread, take note of these staple foods you should always keep stocked in your pantry—you can make countless tasty meals with them!
• Baking essentials – all-purpose flour and white sugar
• Grains – oats, rice, bread, tortillas, pancake mix, and pastas (all shapes)
• Peanut butter
• Oils – olive, vegetable, and canola
• Canned goods – broth, evaporated milk, pasta sauce, beans, and veggies
• Condiments – honey, ketchup, mustard, mayo, or soy sauce
• All your favorite spices
With these ingredients on hand, you can make many different soups (which is one of the most versatile recipes—you can make it with just about anything), Asian-inspired rice bowls, pasta, and much more.
Don’t forget the fridge and freezer
We’ve covered the pantry, so now it’s time for the cold essentials:
• Dairy products – eggs, butter, milk, and cheese
• Frozen fruits and veggies – these can be added to smoothies or casseroles
• Meats – buy extra meat when it’s on sale and freeze the extra to use for a later time when you need a quick dinner
• Vegetarian options – hummus, tortillas, tofu, and almond milk
Now, how can you figure out how to use this food? Well, thankfully, some brilliant chefs and homemakers have created apps specifically for figuring out what recipes you can make with what you already have in your kitchen.
Here are a few free cooking apps to try:
• SuperCook – This app does all the work for you. You can list what ingredients you have and SuperCook will suggest recipes to you that use only what you have on hand.
• Cookpad – Cookpad is both a recipe finder and social media platform. You can search for recipes by listing what ingredients you have and also share your creations with others.
• Tasty – You might be familiar with Tasty’s overhead food prep videos on social media, and the app is even better. This app sorts out recipes by ingredient, meal, dietary restrictions, and for different occasions. They even have meals to make in under 30 minutes or with fewer than five ingredients.
With all this info and thousands of recipes at your fingertips, you won’t have to have the “what’s for dinner?” battle again!
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