Thursday, July 22, 2010

Because Friends Don't Let Friends Have Wine With Pancakes

What do you always, always keep in your pantry?

Last Fall, I hit a wall with stocking my pantry, and told you about it. I was down to little more than wine and pancake mix. How sad. Well, maybe not sad if you are in the mood for wine and breakfast for dinner. But mostly, yes, just pathetically sad. 

Sticking to a weekly budget, whether it is really strict or pretty flexible, is a tough thing to do. And what makes it hard is that we are human -- we like impulse buying and often cave to cravings. A trip to the store for bread, soup, and vegetables can easily turn into also walking away with a case of light beer and ridiculous little brownie bite things that taste like heaven.

Whatever, I know that's not just me -- you know you do it, too!!

And I totally want a fridge like this one by the way. Clear doors are so swank. And it might make me rethink the junk food if I had to have it on display all the time ...

To avoid the store's nutritional and budgetary distractions, these days I like to keep my pantry and fridge stocked with at least a few staples. Some feed the cravings, others feed my culinary creativity. Here are some examples:

* Cereal and milk. It's a bad, bad day when I run out of Special K or Crispix. It is not only a quick and easy meal, but it also comes in handy when I have splurged out at lunch and only want a light dinner or a snack. Bonus: bananas to top it off.

* Flour, sugar, baking soda and powder. They are the basics for almost all baking recipes. When I am in the mood for something (or have to make something to bring to an event), I know I might have to pick up one or two specialty ingredients, but otherwise am set. Bonus: chocolate chips and vanilla.

* Eggs. See both of the above reasons. I can't tell you how many "meals" I have made for myself out of a few of these. Bonus: hard-boiling the eggs for snacks.

* Dry pasta and a jar of sauce. For the nights when I have absolutely nothing else to make. Often I have fresh vegetables and cheese left over in the fridge that I can throw in to make it a full meal. Regular ziti and jarred sauce can become Baked Ziti Primavera in a flash! Bonus: ready-made pesto.

* Something in the freezer. Right now? It's a California Pizza Kitchen pizza that I picked up on sale. Other times? Meals that made a lot that I portioned out into individual containers. What a treat to have enchiladas for dinner with zero effort, a few months after making them! Bonus: frozen containers of soup or broth.

This is only a start. When I am well-stocked, the pantry also has things like nuts, salsa, and rice mixes. These can become all sorts of additions to a meal when you get creative.

What else do you like to keep in your pantry?


Unknown said...

cereal is a must have, along with boxes of rice pilaf and frozen chicken breasts. i always try to have tortillas as well, because they seem to keep forever.

i keep a pretty well freaking stocked fridge, so i think my necessities are kind of different than everyone elses :)

Unknown said...

Katie one of these days I am just going to tag along with you to see your food shopping in action; I am always amazed how much stuff you keep on hand!! :)