Pantry essentials. Photo: Thinkstock
Stocking your pantry with a few basic items will allow you to make tasty and nutritious last-minute meals.
For a meal to be well balanced, it needs to contain vegetables. Tinned tomatoes, beetroot and corn are all excellent staples to have in the cupboard. Frozen vegetables are also really useful, and because they’re snap-frozen soon after harvest, they still contain a lot of nutrients. I usually try to have a variety of frozen vegetables for use in different meals, for example peas, spinach and at least one kind of vegetable mix.
To make a balanced, filling dinner, you will need some protein. The easiest pantry proteins are tinned legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and red kidney beans, and tinned fish. Eggs are great, too, falling somewhere between fresh and pantry food, given that they can last up to six weeks in the fridge. While meat and chicken will keep in the freezer, they take longer to defrost – so if you haven’t taken them out in time, pantry proteins mean you can still make a good meal.
Rice, pasta, bread (in the freezer) and couscous can all be stored long-term. These foods can help fill out and bulk up a meal. I find bread and rice the most useful, as many meals can be quickly bulked out by adding a slice of toast, while rice is quick and easy and goes with plenty of dishes.
No matter what you’re cooking, you need oil to start it off. My preference is to use extra virgin olive oil — in fact, I’m lost without it.
For your pantry meals to taste good and be appetising, you need ingredients that add depth. I love using spice mixes, particularly North African blends like chermoula and harissa, which add rich flavours without extra effort. Choose a spice mix, a herb blend or even single herbs such as dried oregano. I also keep capers in my pantry since they, too, are a good instant flavour ingredient. Olives and sun-dried tomatoes also work.
|Ruby on 22 September 2012 ,22:07 |
just got married and learning to do things on my own especially in the kitchen. i love cooking and find this section very helpful for me. good luck and more power to RD.
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