Honestly, I was a little excited. My husband often looks in our pantry (and freezer) & can't comprehend why I went to store at all. My response, "You'll see. One of these days .... blah blah blah." Finally, that day was here!
A well stocked pantry is essential for those days/weeks when you can't get to the store for fresh/new ingredients. Well-stocked will mean different things for different people. Obviously, it will depend on the type of foods you like to cook. Oh, and mine includes items in the freezer and some long-lasting fridge items.
My short list:
- Canned & dry beans
- Pasta, nearly always whole wheat
- Some other grain, such as bulgar or quinoa
- Baby carrots
- Chicken broth or stock
- Minced garlic
- Dried Breadcrumbs, seasoned
- Frozen meat (esp chicken & fish)
- Canned tuna
- Variety of nuts
- Prepared vinaigrettes
- Parmesan cheese
- Large variety of herbs & spices, including mixes
If that doesn't look like ingredients you'd use, ditch it! I googled "well-stocked pantry" and got over a half million results. Peruse!
I also googled "recipes based on what i have in my kitchen" and got 7.55 million results. My favorite is http://allrecipes.com/. Personally, I like to let me creativity do the work here, but I'm not always inspired and maybe you aren't either. There's help out there. Take it!
When I got home tonight, my parents were watching the kiddo & were able to stay while I actually cooked a meal from scratch ... albeit with less-than-the-freshest ingredients! Mom diced an onion while I snuggled with the little one. I tossed the onion in a pot with some olive oil & cracked pepper. Then I chopped baby carrots & added those, then a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Once tender, I added a few cups of chicken broth. I mused in front of the spice cabinet & added a few (maybe a teaspoon curry, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ginger). I dug a nearly empty bag of lentils out from the back of the pantry & dumped them all in (after sorting for debris!). I thawed a few chicken breast tenders in the microwave & continued to cook, shredded them up and tossed it in. I simmered all this for about a half an hour, till most of the liquid had cooked off. On the side, I made whole wheat couscous, perhaps the world's easiest side dish.
It was really quite tasty. Nothing like cooking an onion to make your kitchen smell homey. Disclaimer: couscous + toddler = mess. :)