I’m obsessed with food blogs (in addition to the obvious obsessions of wedding and design blogs) and my recent favorite is by Leslie Sarna, The Dainty Vegetarian. She has incredible tips on everyday dilemmas, like ‘What to Do With Leftover Wine‘ or ‘Properly Setting A Table‘. I have had the privilege of getting to know her a bit, and she is every bit as sweet as her blog posts! Today we are sharing a special guest post by Leslie with helpful tips on how to stock your pantry, which we thought would be helpful to newlyweds or soon-to-be wedded couples. Even if you’re already aware how to grocery shop and make quick meals, you never know when you’ll need to whip up a quick afternoon lunch for guests or plan a hearty meal when you don’t feel like running out to the store. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be able to whip up a tasty meal even at the last minute! Take it away, Leslie!
How to Stock Your Pantry
by Leslie Sarna
Congratulations, you are married! Now what? Yes, technically you are supposed to be “nesting”, but what does that mean? Well, in the kitchen it means stocking the pantry with “grown-up” items. No more using leftover packets of ketchup and soy sauce. You are married now, buy a bottle! Having a well-stocked pantry is key for cooking and entertaining. In my pantry right now, I bet I could make at least 5 full meals without going to the grocery store. I think of the pantry as the go-to place for last minute home cooked meals and snacks. I also always keep some ingredients to make last minute appetizers in case friends decide to drop by!
So what to have? It depends on what you like to eat, but here are some suggestions that come out of my pantry!
Two easy ingredients to have on hand are pasta and canned tomatoes. Yes, I said canned tomatoes, not jarred tomato sauce. You can do it, homemade sauce is so easy to make and so much better tasting than jarred! There are about a billion recipes online including on my site : ) These two simple items can be a go-to staple on Sunday nights.
* Rice– makes a great base for whatever you happen to have in your fridge. Stir-fry up all those leftover meats and veggies from the week; serve over rice and voila, a perfect and healthy meal.
* Crackers– I always keep a fresh box of these around in case of impromptu entertaining. On the entertaining note, I always have jarred gourmet olives, marinated artichoke hearts, jarred semi-dried tomatoes and jarred roasted red peppers to put together a little antipasto with no effort! Can you imagine how impressed your Mother in law would be if she surprisingly dropped by and you made antipasto in two minutes?
* Really good extra virgin olive oil (if you don’t know what really good is, it is because you haven’t had it.) My best advice is to continue to try new brands until you find one that tastes like velvet!
**On a side note, what makes olive oil extra virgin? The term “extra virgin” is the first few presses of the olives; said to have the most flavor. The rest of the presses are used to make regular olive oil.
* Vinegars– I keep like 6 different vinegars around, but it’s probably not necessary to have that many. Just keep whichever ones you like making salad dressing with. I would suggest balsamic or red wine vinegar, these are the most common.
All the things necessary to make chocolate chip cookies! (cause you never know when a craving is going to happen!)
* Dried herbs– Yes, fresh herbs are the best, but when you are putting together a meal with what you have on hand, dried is the way to go. Keep on hand ones that go with what you like to make. I think I might have all of them in my house… Some important ones to have on hand are basil, parsley, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper, mustard, ground cumin, paprika and garlic salt.
* Wine! (Need I say more?)
Fresh Food Staples
Some of the fresh food staples that I always have around are:
* Onions – I put onions in everything and they have such a long shelf life, it’s nice to always have these on hand.
* Garlic – ditto to the onion.
* Lemons – great to marinade or flavor meats and pastas. Great to use in desserts or drinks. The best part is, as soon as they start going south, I use them as a cleaner. Cut the lemon on half and rub all over your counters and rinse. They are also great to grind in your disposal so it continues to smell fresh.
* Salad “stuff” – I make salads everyday. They are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients and lets face it, you can never get enough of those!
In The Freezer
* Ice cream – just because!
* Frozen fruit – throw some frozen fruit in a small pot with some water and sugar, heat and you’ve got a beautiful sauce to serve over ice cream for a very impressive delightful dessert with little effort! You can also throw these in the blender for delicious breakfast smoothies for when you run out of his favorite cereal, ooops!
* Nuts – I keep nuts in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Nuts can be added to just about any salad, entree or dessert! I love to have almonds, walnuts, cashews and pignoli (pine) nuts around.
What’s in your pantry?
For recipes and more ideas, visit www.lesliesarna.com