How to stock your pantry for easy, inexpensive meals - HMS National, Inc.

How to stock your pantry for easy, inexpensive meals

October 22, 2014

If you're trying to get your family to eat healthier, toss the takeout menu and pick up your grocery list. There are lots of quick, easy and healthy meals that you can make during the week if you have the right ingredients. Use these guidelines to stock your pantry and have inexpensive homemade meals every night.

Focus on nonperishable items
The most important part of any pantry is the nonperishable products. These are the items that you'll want to stock up on when you find a great sale or coupon. They won't go bad and will always be on hand when you need to whip up a quick meal. The following nonperishables are essential for your kitchen:

  • Pasta
  • Jars of sauce
  • Rice, quinoa or couscous
  • Olive oil
  • Canned vegetables
  • Dried beans
  • Dried fruits
  • Condiments.

If you have these items on hand, you'll always be able to put together a salad, pasta recipe or a healthy side dish.

Freeze your meats
If there's a good sale on chicken or ground beef, don't be afraid to stock up! According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raw meats are good candidates to freeze. They'll maintain their quality and nutrients for a number of months thanks to the moisture in the meat. When frozen, uncooked ground beef or turkey will stay good for three to four months, and raw poultry will be good for nine to 12 months. Uncooked wild game can be stored in the freezer for eight to 12 months as well. To optimize storage and prevent freezer burn, securely wrap your meats and ensure that the freezer remains at 0 degrees. You can also freeze foods like soup, stew, casseroles and gravy for a number of months. When you want to thaw a frozen meat or other item, take it out a few hours before you need it and let it defrost in the refrigerator. Never leave food out on the counter to thaw.

Find great seasonings
The right herbs and spices can jazz up just about any meal. You should stock your pantry with the basics - salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and other herbs - but experiment with other flavors too. EatingWell magazine recommended you try anchovy paste in your pasta sauce, black peppercorn on your salad or citrus zest on your poultry. You might also want to play around with tarragon, allspice, ginger, sage, dill, cayenne pepper or other spices in your favorite recipes.

The information in these articles is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.