Here's a list of items that I keep stocked in my pantry, refrigerator, or freezer so I'm always prepared! As long as you have these staples, you'll always be ready to cook!
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Italian style breadcrumbs
- Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- Olive oil
- Cans of cream of chicken soup
- Cans of chicken broth and/or beef broth
- Cans of diced tomatoes
- Jars of pasta sauce
- Brown sugar
- Boxed mashed potatoes
And wine! Always have wine... if for no other reason, it's a great companion while cooking! ;)
- Minced garlic
- Lemon juice
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce
- Ranch dressing
- Veggies (green beans, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, mixed bags, etc.)
- Chicken breasts or cutlets
- Fish fillets (I usually have Tilapia)
- Shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
Follow these simple tips to keep your weekly meals affordable, cost-effective, and easy-to-make!
- Use frozen (or canned) veggies instead of fresh. It's more affordable and will last longer.
- Use minced garlic instead of fresh garlic cloves. It's easy and affordable to keep a large tub of minced garlic in your fridge and it will stay fresh faster then you can use it all. Plus, it's an ingredient you can use in almost every dish!
- Stock up on boxes of ready-to-make mashed potatoes and rice. It's very affordable and you'll always have a quick side dish on hand.
- Pasta is always easy and cheap! And you can add almost anything to it - chicken, fish, ground beef, shrimp, meatballs, veggies, etc!
- When cooking for only 1 or 2 people, frozen meat/fish is the best way to go. You can easily defrost only what you need, while the rest remains frozen for future use.
- For bigger dishes (like crockpot meals or casseroles), make the entire recipe, then split up the leftovers: Keep a portion in the fridge to eat as leftovers throughout the week, then freeze the rest in a ziploc bag (label it with a sharpie so you remember what it is)... When you're ready to eat it, defrost it in the fridge for a day then reheat it back in the crockpot or oven. Most food will last in the freezer for up to a few months!
- Plan a weekly menu! Every Sunday, I plan out my meals for the whole week and then I go grocery shopping. It saves time and money. You only need to make one trip to the market and you only get the stuff you need for the week!
- Keep your pantry organized by keeping like items together: canned food (veggies, meats, etc.), dry goods (pastas, rice, etc.), sauces, soups, baking items (flour, sugar, etc.), breakfast items (cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, etc.), etc. This way you'll easily be able to see what you have on hand and what you're running low on.
- Donate! If you've noticed you have non-perishables sitting in your pantry that you've forgotten about, lost interest in, have too many of, no longer like, or just don't want... don't let it go to waste! Gather up those items and donate them to a local food charity or group home organization. Just be sure to double-check the expiration date first!