Pantries: Not a Wasteland Anymore
I think it’s safe to say that we’re all eating more meals made from our pantries in recent days. I have personally used, replenished, used and re-stocked our pantry more in the past 2 weeks than I think I have in the past 2 years. In an older life, I often thanked the Lord that our pantry had doors that I could close, much like my kids’ bedrooms. It was cluttered, crowded and often hid items I swore we didn’t have (much like my kids’ bedrooms). I actually found a jar of olives that expired in 2012. Don’t judge me.
All this time I’ve spent in our pantry recently has motivated me to make it more user friendly. I have cleaned up, cleaned out and de-cluttered our supply of boxed, canned and jarred food. The result: I now have a clear sense of what we have, what we need and a road map for some really tasty meals I can make with my family this weekend.
Here’s a list of items that I always have on hand and ways that I use them:
Tubes of Tomato Paste:
I never seemed to go through that can of tomato paste at one time. So, when I found these little tubes of tomato paste, I was hooked! I use tomato paste to add depth and flavor to soups, sauces, stews, casseroles and spreads.
Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Pickles:
It should come as no surprise to you that my family loves antipasto platters. We probably create platters 2-3 times each week, so we always have an assortment of pickles, olives and artichokes in a briny liquid ready to add to our meals.
Oil and Vinegar:
You can’t see it from this pictures, but we have a lot (I mean a lot) of different kinds of vinegar. We make our own salad dressings, so we are constantly using flavored vinegar to offer variety to our recipes. We also love adding vinegar to sauces and stews to add some tangy acidity. We also use a variety of oils when we cook and bake. I generally use coconut oil instead of butter when baking and I LOVE the taste of toasted sesame oil (a little goes a long way) when making salad dressings or sauces for dinner.
No good pantry can exist without broth, beans and/or lentils. Not feeling well? Make a lentil soup. Pesto too thick? Add a bit of vegetable broth to thin it out. Quick dinner idea? Make a bean and rice burrito. You get the idea.
Nut Butters and Tahini:
I am very thankful that we do not have a nut allergy in our house, as if I could, I would eat peanut butter at every meal. I love baking with peanut butter and using it to make the most delicious peanut sauce to drizzle over rice and vegetables. I also love tahini (sesame seed paste). I honestly use tahini at least 5 times a week. I use it to make salad dressings, homemade hummus, sauces, dips and vegan cheese recipes. The possibilities are endless with this creamy, nutty, flavorful ingredient.
Because dried fruit has a really high sugar content and sweet taste, a little goes a long way. I love chopping dates up and putting them into brownie recipes, making nut and chocolate energy bites to store in the freezer and my personal favorite: dipping medjool dates into peanut butter for a snack. 😊
Rice and Quinoa:
These grains are so versatile, filling and tasty! We love making rice and quinoa bowls for dinner, the flavor possibilities are endless! I often add rice to soups to make them more filling and to add texture to the dish. I love adding cooked quinoa to salads. And, quinoa isn’t only for savory dishes. Try this amazing recipe for a quinoa breakfast bowl from Minimalist Baker.
Go take a peek in your pantry. Dusty jars? Old cans hiding in the back? You have some time on your hands, go ahead and clean it out. You know you won’t be disappointed. And, you may even be inspired to clean our your kids’ bedrooms too. 🤣
Hang in there everyone! Stay strong. Don’t let this get you down. Our kids will all go back to school at some point, I hope.