A well-stocked pantry is one of the most important tools for cooking quick and easy meals. Having specific ingredients on hand can form the base of your meal without having to buy those ingredients every time you go to cook. Knowing you automatically have dry goods in your pantry takes one step out of grocery shopping and can save tons of time!
I present to you my top 10 pantry staples. These are foods I always have in my pantry no matter what and in my opinion, are essential to making quick and healthy meals. Basically, I can’t live without these 10 foods. And once these foods are stocked in your pantry is where the fun starts. You can learn to get creative with ingredients you already have around and mix and match them with other fresh ingredients. What pantry staples do you always keep around? Do we have some of the same or different? I would love to hear your feedback!
1. Olive oilAny quick sauté or roast of vegetables, meat, or fish needs olive oil. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with and is reasonably priced (I buy a 1 liter bottle from $10 from Fairway Market in New York City).
2. Brown rice/quinoa/Israeli couscous
Or any grain you like! Grains are easy to cook and can form the base of a quick and filling meal. Make big batches for the week and add a protein and vegetable for lunch and dinner.
3. PastaPasta is definitely one of my go to easy dinners. Add veggies, a protein, and any jarred tomato sauce or pesto.
If you’re an oatmeal eater, you obviously need oats around. Overnight oats are my breakfast every day so I go through one container every couple of weeks! Baked oatmeal is also an awesome breakfast or use oats in place of bread crumbs in burgers or meatballs.
Now if you’re not an oatmeal person or need some variety, cereal is another go to option. I recommend keep one or two different high fiber cereals around for quick breakfasts with milk or to top yogurt and fruit.
6. Whole wheat bread
The uses for bread are endless. Peanut butter and toast or peanut butter and jelly for breakfast, pre or post workout snacks, or grilled cheeses for lunch or dinner. You just need a few fresh ingredients or other pantry staples (coming up!) to make a filling and satisfying snack or meal.
7. Peanut butter
You can’t have PB&J without the PB, right? I keep peanut butter or almond butter in my pantry for quick pre-workout toasts, which might also be one of my favorite foods! Nut butters are so versatile too. Add them to yogurt or overnight oats, mix into smoothies and make quick peanut sauces for stir fries.
8. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is always good to keep around to boost the flavor in your meals. A little bit goes a long way and it can be used plain or added into a delicious stir fry sauce. I buy low sodium soy sauce and love the flavor it gives to a quick cauliflower fried rice!
9. Canned tomatoes
So many uses for canned tomatoes, where do I even start! Toss over pasta, use as a base for a homemade tomato sauce or enchilada sauce, or pour in a pan to start a quick shakshuka. Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and so easy to use!
I keep at least two kinds of nuts in my pantry at all times. They are easy and portable high protein snacks, give a delicious crunch to top cereal or yogurt, and are satiating healthy fats for salads. Almonds and walnuts are my favorite, but I love cashews too!
One pan meals are a go to weeknight dinner for me. The less clean up the better wins every time, right? And there is just something so satisfying about making a meal all in one place with few moving parts. This one pan chicken is so easy to throw together, makes lots of leftovers, and can be easily changed up to how you like it! Try it with chicken breast or salmon, over zucchini noodles instead of pasta, or mix in spinach or mushrooms for an extra vegetable.
Makes 4 servings
1 pound chicken thighs
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
5-10 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta or zucchini noodles
Heat a skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in pan about 7 minutes on each side. Take chicken out of pan and set aside.
Turn down heat to medium and add a bit more oil. Add garlic and onions, cook until soft about 4 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chili flakes, season with salt and pepper. Cook sauce for a few minutes until bubbling and add fresh basil leaves. Place chicken in sauce to soak up the delicious flavor and to finish cooking, about 10 minutes. Serve over pasta or zucchini noodles!
Overnight Oats: The reason you'll officially run out of excuses for skipping breakfast
I don’t know about you, but my day hasn’t started without a big cup of coffee and a satisfying breakfast. Oatmeal has been my go to breakfast for years, but as morning wake ups became earlier and time in the morning became scarce, I no longer had time to make oatmeal fresh for breakfast. Enter: overnight oats. The best spent 5 minutes at night for a delicious, creamy bowl (or Tupperware in my case) in the morning.
I always recommend my clients to include three things in their breakfasts: protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruit. This oatmeal hits all of the bases. The oats are packed with belly filling fiber and the yogurt adds proteins and gives it its creamy texture. Fresh berries over the summer are my favorite fruit addition, but frozen fruit works excellently when fresh berries aren’t in season.
If you aren’t already convinced, the best part about these oats is coming. They are portable! That’s right- I mix all my ingredients in a Tupperware the night before and eat my oatmeal when I get to work. No preparation or clean up in the AM (read: sleep later) and no having to scramble to think about what to eat. Now find me another excuse for skipping breakfast- bet you can’t!
Ingredients (Serves 1):
½ cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup milk of choice (I use almond)
½ tablespoon chia seeds
½ tablespoon hemp seeds
1 teaspoon nut butter (almond or peanut)
Fresh or frozen fruit
Combine all ingredients. Let soak overnight and heat up or eat cold in the morning. These ingredients are versatile- change them up however you like! Add nuts, coconut flakes, even chocolate chips!