Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge can ensure that you have all the basics on hand to make complete meals easily. It is a good idea whether you’re feeling too lazy to deal with a grocery store trip. It also comes in handy if you’re home sick. Or, even looking for some safety during an outbreak such as these days (with Covid-19) and the future feels uncertain.
Dried lentils, beans, rice, garlic, tomato sauces not only give us a sense of security and control but also make for excellent nutritious meals. All of the ingredients below can be easily mixed and matched for creative and delicious dishes.
What to Buy and How to Stock Your Pantry?
So, what to buy? Here are some of my personal favorites that I usually keep on hand all year long. (I selected items that have long shelf or refrigerated life):
Stocking Tip Before You Buy: Pick 1-2 items from each of the category below. It should be enough to build your pantry. Especially, right now during the Covid-19 outbreak, my request would be not to hoard as there is no shortage in the market. It will also leave food for others who may be in dire need.
- Pasta and Grains: Your favorite pasta, noodles, rice, oats, farro, wheat berries, sprouted bread (which can be easily frozen) or gluten free ones such as buckwheat.
- Flour and Sugar: Wheat flour, chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, coconut sugar and maple syrup.
- Seeds, Nuts and Dried Fruit: Dried mushrooms (perfect an amazing mushroom broth), quinoa, millet, pumpkin, chia, sunflower seeds and nuts such as almonds, walnuts and macadamia etc. Also, dried fruit such as cranberries or goji berries are excellent for making granola and oatmeal etc.
- Nut Butters: Almond or peanut butter.
- Milks: Coconut milk, oat milk, soy milk, soups etc. If you have raw nuts on hand, you can also make your own like my almond milk recipe.
- Canned Vegetables: Canned tomatoes, corn, jarred sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, roasted red pepper, and olives.
- Lentils and Beans: A good variety of lentils and beans such as dried chickpeas, black beans, navy beans, red lentils, yellow split peas, and french green lentils. Here’s my recipe for delicious lentils with fried garlic that can easily be made with any types of lentils.
- Dairy: Eggs, butter and hard cheeses (needs refrigeration).
- Frozen Fruits and Vegetables: Peas, edamame, cauliflower rice, spinach, mixed berries, and plant-based burgers or sausages (needs refrigeration).
- You can also buy fresh and freeze avocados (peeled and halved for smoothies), cut leafy greens like kale or spinach, berries, ginger (sliced), turmeric root (sliced), lemongrass stalks, tomatoes (whole), jalapeños (whole), onions (peeled and sliced).
- Another great thing to freeze is packets of vegetables for fresh stock. I usually include mushroom, onions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, carrots, celery, cilantro and turnips.
- Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips and carrots can last for weeks in the fridge. If vegetables get soft, just soak them in water and they’ll crisp up again. I also buy fresh ginger and turmeric and slice them before freezing. These make an excellent addition to teas.
- Oils, Butter and Vinegar: Ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and apple cider vinegar.
- Spices: Miso paste (it’s naturally shelf stable and keeps for years), coconut Aminos, Vanilla, Thyme, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne, Paprika, Turmeric, Garlic granules, and Ginger Powder. Also, buy some lemon or lime juice that can be refrigerated.
- Dark Chocolate or an indulgence of your choice! We need it.
Lastly, it is important to keep it simple. Get the things you know you and your family will enjoy. The key to whipping up a healthy quick pantry meal is to select a base grain, pasta or lentils. The, layer them with bottled sauces, fats and spices to create a delicious meal.
Health Tip: Did you know that spices not only enhance the flavor but also often boost the absorption of nutrients in food.
So, get creative and try some new recipes. I’d love to know what your favorite pantry items are in the comments below or tag @dialiving or #dialiving on Instagram.