Stocking the Kitchen – Tips for Simple Meal Planning
If 2020 has taught us anything it’s the value of having a well-stocked kitchen. Keeping basic foods on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer lead to easier meal planning. In a pinch these staples allow for more meals to be prepared at home rather than ordering out, contributing to a healthier diet and fewer expenses. Canned, frozen and dried foods are typically packed at peak freshness preserving the nutritional value. Meaning these kitchen staples can be just as healthy as fresh foods.
Consider filling your pantry with dry and canned foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, brown rice, oats, fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, and sauces. When purchasing canned foods look for options with no added sugar or sodium. For canned meats, poultry, and seafood choose those packed in water rather than oil.
For the refrigerator, it’s helpful to have milk, eggs, cheese, bag salad, fruits, and vegetables. Fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, and bread can also be stored easily in the freezer. To save on expense meats can be purchased in bulk then frozen in portioned amounts the right size for your family.
Additional items such as oils, herbs, vinegar, and spices are useful for flavoring foods. With a little bit of planning these items can take the place of jarred marinades and salad dressings. Although premade items are convenient they are often carrying a large amount of added sugar, something that can be avoided by making your own dressing or marinade.
Next time you head to the grocery store (or place a grocery order!) take inventory of what’s in your kitchen. From there you can plan meals around what is available at your home and what is needed from the store. Below are a few simple recipes made with common kitchen staples.
Veggie Egg Scramble – Serves 3
¼ cup milk
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables (ex. Frozen stir fry vegetables)
In a medium bowl, beat eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper.
In a large skillet, saute the vegetables in oil. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring often.
Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Cook stirring occasionally until eggs are fully cooked.
DIY Salad Dressing – Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ cup (or less) olive oil
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup – 6 servings
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth, low sodium
1 (10 ounce) can chicken, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
6 ounces tortilla chips
3 ounces low-fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
In a large saucepan, combine corn, chicken broth, chicken, black beans, and tomatoes.
Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until heated through.
Serve over tortilla chips and top with a little cheese.
*This could also be made in the slow-cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or high 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Peanut Butter Power Dip – 6 servings
1/2 cup yogurt, non-fat plain
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup peanut butter
Combine yogurt, vanilla, and peanut butter in a small bowl. Mix well.
Chill dip in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serve with 1 cup assorted carrot and celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, apples or pear slices.