Pantry Pasta! Cupboard Casserole!
5 Ways to Be Prepared for Mealtime When a Trip to the Store Just Isn’t Happening
Some of the best meals I’ve ever made were done so with the scarce ingredients of my cupboard, fridge and/or freezer. I made these spontaneous meals when it was -5 degrees, or my bank account was barren in college or I just didn’t feel like changing out of my pajamas! (Sometimes all of these things)
Why were they so good? I had to be innovative so it was my creation, I’d never made that exact meal before and I was grateful I didn’t have to put on pants.
Whatever your excuse, these are some ways you can stock up and always have a meal on hand. No pants? No problem!
1- Always keep frozen or canned (BPA free) vegetables, some legumes on hand like lentils, navy beans or black beans, pasta and/or rice, a jar of minced garlic, basic spices and some sort of broth base or bullion. I also like to recommend getting some free-range, organic meats and freezing them in serving sizes appropriate for your household size, dated and labeled. If you’re in a pinch and need ideas, there are websites where you type in your ingredients and they suggest meals you can make! I’ve used
2-When you have leftovers that aren’t being eaten fast enough, freeze them and store in a labeled, dated freezer bag. Bring them out again on a busy night for a home cooked meal!
3- When affordable, and when time allows, make extra servings when you cook something from scratch that freezes well, like a pasta bake or a soup and freeze a portion after it cools. This is another way to have a great, mystery-free home cooked meal when you want it, fast!
4- Make sure there is a space in your freezer where you can see the dates and names on these freezer bags so they don’t go to the land of forgotten food. How long can you freeze them? I say if you freeze them in the summer, eat them by/in winter for best quality. 3 months is a good standard but a little more won’t hurt at all.
5- Always have basics on hand to make a salad dressing: oil, vinegar and a seasoning packet are easy. Why? You can make some pasta, toss in some veggies and beans, a little mayo and some dressing and you have a pasta salad. You can use tortillas and chicken with some veggies and make a wrap drizzled with Italian dressing. It’s a good, easy way to jazz up food without dumping salt on it.
If you keep these things on hand, you shouldn’t have to run to the store to make a good meal. Sometimes simple is the best! I bet you’ll be surprised at what you come up with.