Ever feel that you can’t find anything good to make for dinner, even when you just went grocery shopping? You’re not alone. I’ve heard this sentiment often, and I suggest stocking the staples that, in themselves, can make many basic meals. Once the fundamentals are covered, seasonal vegetables and a little protein make the elementary into exciting, creative dinners. My method of stocking allows me to take advantage of sales at the grocery store, and avoid ordering out.
Here are a few tips that can potentially save you money, and arm you with the appropriate stash.
Stock Dry Goods in Quantity
Grains, legumes, and tomato products play a major role in my diet, so I keep my eyes peeled for sales. When cans of beans come down to five for $2, I fill up a cart and squirrel them away. Same goes with crushed tomatoes. In addition to these canned products, I maintain a supply of whole wheat pasta, quinoa, short grain brown rice, and Arborio rice. If all else fails, whole wheat pasta, white beans, and red sauce with some hot pepper flakes can go a long way nutritionally and will certainly feed an appetite. Arborio rice covers me with the more exotic option of risotto when pop-in guests have me scrambling to prepare dinner.
Enhance the Staples
Basics covered, I augment my possibilities by stocking up on jars of roasted peppers, capers, olives, salsa, and artichoke hearts, as well as a variety of dried mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Of course, there are always two types of olive oil in the cupboard along with a variety of vinegars. With these additions, the possibilities start to grow exponentially.
Fresh items cannot be bought in bulk using the same strategies as dry goods. Carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and parmesan are used daily in my kitchen, so before I go to the market, I eyeball my inventory and assess. Although they don’t have an extensive shelf life, each of these items, if stored correctly, has staying power.
Supplement With Fresh Goods
With all of these staples for support, while grocery shopping, you are liberated to choose what looks freshest or is on sale as the meal’s supplement. A seasonal vegetable and a protein can turn your staples into a quick and inexpensive gourmet feast—every night of the week!
Tell us in the comments: What food is your kitchen never without?