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0:00 A Well-Stocked Pantry to the Rescue What are the biggest obstacles to having a family dinner? For many, it is simply finding that window […]

Published September 28, 2023 12:51 AM
3 min read

0:00

A Well-Stocked Pantry to the Rescue

What are the biggest obstacles to having a family dinner? For many, it is simply finding that window of time when everyone is home. For others, it is all about logistics. By the time you figure out what to make, you still need to make a run to the grocery store and come home and prepare it. That’s where a strategically stocked pantry and freezer come into play.  

The following list of pantry essentials makes whipping up family dinner a breeze. While it might look like a long list, most of the items have a long shelf life. While no one store has everything, between Whole Foods, Costco, Acme, and June & Ho, I can keep my pantry stocked and my freezer filled with protein-packed meat, poultry, and fish. So, when everyone’s home, a home-cooked dinner is a snap.

Pantry/Fridge Essentials

2 cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans

2 cans black beans

2 cans cannellini beans

Jarred anchovies in oil 

Jarred hearts of palm (the Sun Pix brand from Costco is my favorite)

2 large cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

Peanut butter, smooth and chunky

Almond butter

Vinegars: champagne, balsamic, red wine, cider, rice

Good olive oil, extra virgin for salads and regular for cooking

Canola, vegetable oil, or avocado oil

Toasted sesame oil

Tahini (great in dips, sauces, stir fry)

Capers

Organic stock; chicken, beef, and vegetable

Chicken bouillon

Agave

Real maple syrup

Coarse kosher salt

Water chestnuts

Different shaped pastas

Different grains; rice, quinoa, farro, Israeli couscous, lentils

Nut assortment; sliced almonds, walnuts, pine nuts

Dried cranberries

Dried cherries

Sriracha sauce

Bragg coconut aminos (soy-free soy sauce alternative)

Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free)

Ricotta

Fresh mozzarella

Feta

Applegate bacon (nitrate-free)

Sliced cheddar

Sour cream

Worcestershire sauce

Thomas’ English muffins

Panko

Whole grain or 7 grain bread (look for low-sugar brands)

Tortillas

Oats

Peeled garlic

Plain organic Greek yogurt (try Siggi’s)

Cherry tomatoes

Hearts of romaine

Arugula

Baby organic spinach

Cilantro

Parsley

Kale

Lots of lemons

Limes

Carrots

Shredded carrots

Cauliflower

Broccoli

Hothouse cucumbers

Baby organic cucumbers

Avocados

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Fresh shaved Parmesan

Fish sauce

Follow Your Heart Vegenaise

Butter, both salted and unsalted

Cinnamon

Berber seasoning

Red pepper flakes

Dried oregano

Dried thyme

Garlic powder

Curry powder

Freezer Essentials

2 dozen chicken breasts, pounded flat (butchers will shrink-wrap them, so they are freezer-ready)

2 lbs. ground chicken

Assorted beef: steaks, ground beef

Sausage: sweet, hot, breakfast links, and discs

Salmon filets (Whole Foods freezer)

Cod filets (Whole Foods freezer)

Dorot frozen garlic and ginger

1 bag frozen uncooked, cleaned, and tail-on shrimp (Costco)

1 bag frozen cooked shrimp (Costco)

1 bag frozen chopped spinach

Once you have a fully stocked pantry and freezer, you’ll have a lot more easy-cooking options on hand. Start the fall season with this delicious cauliflower and ricotta spaghetti, which kids like as much as adults. Don’t be put off by the anchovies; they disappear but elevate the dish.

Cauliflower and Ricotta Spaghetti

Serves 4

Ingredients

1lb. spaghetti

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (8 cups)

¼ cup olive oil

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

6 anchovies, chopped

Kosher salt 

Black pepper

1 cup ricotta

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Directions

Heat oven to 425°.

Cook spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, toss the cauliflower and 2 tablespoons of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, approximately 25 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the tomatoes (and their juices), garlic, anchovies, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Add the sauce and the cauliflower to the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve topped with ricotta and pine nuts.

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