Pantry stocking

by Meri on April 24, 2012

I’ve always prided myself on a well stocked pantry and freezer even prior to kids. I feel strongly that the way to stay on track with eating healthy foods is to assure you have a back up plan for when your day goes crazy and cooking that Lemony Chicken Stir Fry is no longer a reality. Every book and program I’ve ever written always touches on this topic because it’s one of the areas I’ve seen sabotage my clients, family and friends so so often. Life gets crazy, you don’t have time to cook so grabbing quick snack foods or picking up fast food happens frequently. I remember when we moved from North Carolina my friend was helping me clean out my pantry and she was alarmed at all the food we had stocked. I do that on purpose. That way when life throws me a curve ball I always have something I can throw together in a pinch. Beans and rice with veggies? Easy dinner with things I always have on hand.

I just had this curve-ball-sort-of-evening yesterday when my husband called to tell me he needed to work late and I had a terrible morning with the little people. I was going to cook that Lemony Chicken Stir Fry, but when I could feel the tension building deep in my skull as Mr. chased Tiny around the kitchen island while she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and Birdie was throwing matchbook cars at the window, I knew this dinner thing wasn’t going to happen. What I really needed on this day was a crockpot meal (and perhaps later in the evening a glass of wine). Something I could throw together in a few minutes during nap time and have ready by 5pm when the little ones eat. I had some frozen chicken breasts and tortillas so crockpot chicken burritos it was…until I realized my pantry was not well stocked. No chicken broth, no black beans…very strange for me. So out of desperation I found some enchilada sauce to cook with the chicken. The final product was just so-so, but reminded me how much I really love having things well stocked so I don’t have to struggle to make something up on the fly. A well equiped pantry is also helpful if you’re running low on food and can’t make it to the grocery store that particular day. This has become even more important now that I have kids and it isn’t as easy to run out and pick something up. Bringing three toddlers to the store isn’t fun and is something I personally avoid most of the time.

 Here are the items I always like to have on hand for quick meals when life throws your carefully crafted meal plans out the window:

  • canned black beans, white beans, and kidney beans
  • assorted nuts
  • rice, quinoa, pasta
  • lentils
  • assorted soups
  • applesauce (always handy for kids)
  • chicken and vegetable stock (lots of it for cooking…anything!)
  • salad mix or spinach greens in the crisper every single week
  • assorted frozen veggies
  • frozen chicken breasts
  • frozen halibut or tilapia
  • frozen corn tortillas

With these items on hand I can always drum up a healthy meal pretty quickly. I may throw together crockpot burritos with chicken, black beans, broth and seasonings which takes minutes or something that may take a little more time like baked fish with a side of quinoa and veggies. While I always prefer to use fresh beans and produce, using canned beans with frozen foods is far more nutritious than dragging my three kiddos to fast food which they won’t eat anyways. Three toddlers and not one of them likes french fries. Strange, I know.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcia April 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm

No french fries?? Nick will eat them, but he doesn’t crave them either.

I haven’t been so great about beans lately. I have a pressure cooker, which means I can cook dried beans pretty quickly, but my pantry hasn’t been as well stocked with the dried beans. What I try to do instead is cook up 2 lbs from time to time, and put them in the freezer in 2 cup bags.

Whole wheat pasta and a jar of marinara has been my savior more than once. I can’t imagine shopping with 3 kids. Nope. Can’t do it.

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Meri April 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Freezing the beans is an excellent idea! I’ll have to do that. I definitely need an extra freezer, mine is exploding!

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Esther April 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm

hmmm…I aways make that crock pot bean soup with canned beans…maybe I should switch to fresh beans? I wonder about the nutrition value? When the kids start eating it (and I make it less spicy haha!), i’ll try the fresh ones.

My kids eat fries…thank gad! It makes restaurant experiences much easier as that’s the only time they get them!

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Meri April 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Esther- You’ll find less sodium in the dry beans and lots more flavor! Just remember to soak your beans prior to cooking!

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