In Praise of Pantry Meals
The pantry is the true backbone of your kitchen. Keep it well stocked, and you’ll never be caught short when it’s time to make a delicious and nourishing organic meal for your family.
Setting up a hardworking pantry ultimately boils down to two things: being strategic about the items you routinely have on your shelves, and knowing how to best use them — especially when you need to cook but don’t have time to shop.
With a few multi-tasking pantry ingredients like potently flavored spices, seasoning mixes and simmer sauces from Simply Organic in the cupboard, you’ll always have the makings of a wholesome meal at your fingertips.
How to Build a Great Pantry Meal
There are basically two kinds of pantry meals: those you pull together on the fly, say when plans change or unexpected visitors drop by, and scheduled pantry meals. The latter are ideal for the end of the week, when you may have bits and pieces or leftovers that need consuming before your next stock-up.
Whichever circumstances you find yourself in, let these tips be your guide to a meal that feels every bit as deliberate and special as one you shopped for specifically.
Start With Flavors, Not Ingredients
Approaching a pantry meal with a fixed idea of the dish you want to serve can be an exercise in frustration if you don’t have every last ingredient you need. And trying to toss together a bunch of odds and ends with no real plan rarely results in a cohesive meal. Instead, start with a flavor profile or cuisine you’re in the mood for, then put your pantry to work.
Using one of Simply Organic’s boldly spiced simmer sauces is a great launchpad.
Then Add a Protein, Vegetable, or Both
Now’s the time to use that package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts you picked up from the grocery store but didn’t have a plan for, or pull out some frozen shrimp. And remember, not all meals need to revolve around meat; sturdy fresh vegetables, legumes like chickpeas or lentils, and rootegetables, as well as tofu and other meat substitutes, all work brilliantly in pantry meals.
You can also supplement a modest amount of meat with any vegetables from your produce drawer that may be nearing their best-used-by dates, or pull out that bag of frozen spinach or peas.
Now Think About How You’d Like to Serve It
With the basic flavors and ingredients settled, choose a foundation to build them on. Will they look and taste best folded into a tortilla or a puff-pastry hand pie? Maybe you’re in the mood for a rice dish or would really like to clear out one of the many boxes of dried pasta accumulating in your pantry. Would a soup, slurpy bowl of noodles or a stew feel warming and homey?
Let your mood be your guide, and use a Simply Organic Simmer Sauce to transform those ingredients into a steaming skillet of chilaquiles, a tasty noodle stir-fry or comforting bowls of soup.
Round Out the Meal With Something Bright and Zesty
Meals that start and end in the pantry run the risk of being muted in flavor and freshness. To combat that, finish the meal off with something extra fresh, such as an extra burst of spice or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
No matter what you’re preparing, it brightens the end result and helps pull the ingredients together.
Now You Try it!
And there you have it: three quick steps to assembling a full-flavored meal at the last minute that tastes like you’ve been planning it all day. These three quick-and-easy meal ideas are great examples of this philosophy; they’re simple to pull off, yet surprising and exciting to eat.
Pantry Meal #1: Chilaquiles
Pan-fry torn corn tortillas or toss stale tortilla chips into a hot skillet. Add some drained and rinsed beans, such as chickpeas or black beans, along with canned diced or cherry tomatoes, chopped onions and bell peppers, if you have them.
Pour in a package of Mild Taco Simmer Sauce, then crack a few eggs onto the mixture and simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Top with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and hot sauce, if desired.
Pantry Meal #2: Shrimp Stir-Fry Noodles
Cook up some rice noodles or a box of thin spaghetti. Stir-fry the cooked noodles with fresh or frozen vegetables such as broccoli florets, cabbage, spinach, peas and onions. Add thawed frozen shrimp and Pad Thai Simmer Sauce.
Continue to stir-fry until the shrimp is cooked, then finish with a big squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice and chopped basil or scallions.
Pantry Meal #3: Salmon Rice Bowl
Toss canned or cooked frozen salmon with Korean Style BBQ Simmer Sauce. Serve over warm brown or white rice with a mix of sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots or canned cherry tomatoes, plus cooked vegetables like mushrooms or broccoli florets.
Drizzle with more simmer sauce and top with a fried egg if desired, chopped scallions, sesame seeds and a big shot of gochujang. You can also make this with canned tuna or chicken.