Pantry staples


Photo: speedgewera CC BY 2.0

Every kitchen pantry should have a store of basic core foods. Referred to as staples, these are items that have a long shelf life, are used in many different recipes, and make nutritious meals. The key is to make informed decisions when purchasing these staples.

Items such as rice are often processed to make them cook faster, or to make it have a different texture. During this processing many of the nutrients are “stripped” away. These nutrients have to be replaced in order to be sold to the public. This is referred to as enriching or fortifying. Look at the labels on foods that you purchase. If the words “enriched” or “fortified” appear anywhere, put them back and look for alternate items.

Here are six pantry staples that are must-haves. These are items that can be used to make countless varieties of meals.

  • Dry pasta – Whether making a side to compliment a meat, or as a main ingredient, pasta is very versatile. It may take some getting use to, but whole wheat pasta is a much better choice than flour or egg variety.
  • Rice - Like pasta, rice can be used in numerous ways. Brown, wild, long grain rice are better choices when compared to “quick“ cooking rice.
  • Beans - Dried or canned, either way is a good guy. Once again we have an ingredient that can be used in many different recipes, and they are a wonderful source of protein.
  • Canned tuna – Fish oil should be an essential part of anyone’s diet. It tastes good, is very versatile, and it is good for the body. Be sure to buy tuna packed in water. There is no point in adding more calories, or exposing yourself to too many fats from tuna packed in oil.
  • Soup - Healthy alternative canned soups, dry soup packages, and broths are paramount for every pantry. Canned soups keep for a very long time, while dry soup mixes typically feed more people. Broths can be combined with rice, pasta, or beans to make healthy homemade soups.
  • Flour - Whenever possible, use whole wheat flour. It has had less processing that white flour, and is all around the healthier choice. There are times however that an all-purpose, AP, flour is required, for instance with some baking recipes. Flour can be used for making homemade pasta, tortillas, and many other items.

If you are just starting out, decide what priority each item has for you. If you have an existing stockpile of staple foods, take inventory to decide what needs to be replaced. No matter what, start with a list. Do not buy anything that is not on the list. This will keep you from buying items that you do not need, thus saving you money.

There is a lot of money to be saved if you watch the store circulars, and clip coupons from the newspaper and internet. Use your head, and you will have a well stocked, healthy pantry in no time.

Check out:
Frugal Families blog
Former Fat Dude’s blog

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