Okay, okay so I’m not really expecting an apocalypse (clearly I’ve been watching too much Walking Dead lately). I do want to talk about stocking your pantry - not just for big emergencies like zombies outside your door, but for everyday life.
Picture this, you’re running around all day getting your workout in, taking your kids to school and other activities, running errands, all that on top of your full work day. You get home starving and realize you don’t even know where to start for dinner. That’s usually the time when you reach for the take out menus. And then feel bad about it afterwards, especially if it’s not the healthiest of choices. What if you could come home and know that you could whip up a stress free meal with what you’ve got in your cupboards? Yes please!
A stocked pantry makes meal time and healthy eating dead simple. Having your favourite food items on hand to whip up a quick, healthy meal makes your time in the kitchen so much easier. Even if you don’t have time to plan your meals beforehand, you can get creative and have your own version of Iron Chef. After all, food should be fun, not stressful.
Here’s a quick run down on my pantry must haves:
Oil and Vinegars
These are great for easy salad dressings and quick cooking. My favourite oils are coconut, extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed. If you’ve never used grapeseed oil, it’s a really light one - good for high heat cooking and for things that you don’t want to add any additional flavour to.
As far as vinegars, there’s so many interesting ones out there so I say be adventurous and try something new but standbys are always; aged balsamic (at least years. Yes, it’s pricier but the flavour is so much better you end up using less), apple cider (typically I buy the Braggs brand), and red wine.
Sea salt and whole peppercorns for grinding are essential. I like to think about my favourtie types of cuisine and then go from there as far as which others to have on hand. Cumin, garam masala for Indian, rosemary, basil, oregano for Italian. You get the picture.
Grains, Noodles and Pasta
I like to have a variety of these so that even if I’m eating a protein more than one night in a row, I can switch things up with a side dish. Some of my favourites are quinoa, rice, soba noodles, whole wheat spaghetti, and couscous.
Nuts, Seeds and Dried Fruit
These make a great addition to salads or for quick snacks. I love cashews, almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, dried mango, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Make sure to buy roasted nuts and seeds, unsalted and fruit that’s unsweetened and preferably no preservatives.
Flours and Baking Essentials
I at least like to have all the ingredients to pull together some form of a chocolate cookie :) So the basics; organic unbleached flour, baking powder/soda, vanilla paste, brown sugar, and bittersweet chocolate. Other extras include quick rise yeast, cane sugar and almond extract.
Condiments are great to add flavour and jazz up even the most plain meal. This is where it’s important to read labels and try your best to find those with the least amount of additives and preservatives. The organic section is usually where you’ll find the best options. Some of my staples are tamari, dijon mustard, maple syrup, curry paste, avocado oil mayo, and siracha hot sauce.
So many options here. I always have beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce, canned tuna in oil, coconut milk, chicken or vegetable stock. Again read the labels! Try and find brands that you can pronounce everything that’s in them.
Here is where you can stock up on your organic meat and seafood so really all you’d need is some fresh vegetables to complete your meal. I always have chicken breast, prawns, ground beef or lamb. The two veggies I always have a bag of are frozen peas and edamame, along with a variety of fruit. In the peak of summer I’ll usually take the time to freeze my own to take advantage of the season.
Now get out there and stock that kitchen!