Pantry Staples for Easy Meals
The 2-Week Pantry Stock-Up
If you have better things to do than spend time at the grocery store, you’re not alone. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to reduce your shopping trips to once every other week if you stock your pantry with potent, organic seasonings from Simply Organic and staple ingredients that really earn their keep.
You’ll need a game plan when you start to make less frequent shops, especially if you’re used to heading out for just a few items at a time. The goal is a basket filled with a smart mix of shelf-stable basics, a strategically chosen handful of perishable items, and plenty of potent flavor-makers and extras to help transform those items into high-impact meals for up to ten weeknights.
Keeping a selection of Simply Organic Simmer Sauces, spices and seasoning mixes on hand will be your express lane to transforming these pantry items into organic meals that are fresh, wholesome, and brimming with bright flavors, from day 1 through day 14.
What to Buy for Easy Meals
Whether or not you are armed with a formal meal plan for the coming weeks (and if you need easy meal planning, we’ve got you covered) the idea is to shop for the way you eat most often rather than just fill the shelves. Which flavors and cuisines do you lean toward when you cook or eat out? Are there special dietary needs? These questions will help determine the specific contents of your fridge and freezer, and what you should have in the pantry.
Start with the absolute basics — ingredients you will reach for just about every time you cook. Check your supply of olive oil (or other neutral oil such as avocado) as well as salt, pepper, garlic, and onions, and replenish as necessary. Make sure your spice rack is well stocked so you’re never caught short when you’re ready to cook.
Look for These All-Stars
Now add a few versatile, meal-making ingredients that earn their spots in your cupboard and fridge for their ability to transform basic staples into showstoppers. Each earns its keep and then some because it works with myriad flavors and cuisines.
- Simply Organic Simmer Sauces, Spices and Seasoning Mixes: These potent blends of globally sourced, responsibly farmed flavorings and meal starters are the perfect springboards for pantry meals. They bring bold taste to even the humblest pantry items, so always have a selection of your favorites.
- Corn Tortillas: These will last for weeks in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer. Use them for tacos, enchiladas, and so on, but they can also be griddled with cheese, vegetables, and meat for quick quesadillas, used as the crust for a quick individual pizza, cut into triangles and toasted for chips, torn and tossed into scrambled eggs for chilaquiles, and more. Choose certified organic to avoid genetically modified corn.
- Greek Yogurt: A true workhorse well beyond breakfast, Greek yogurt can be dolloped like sour cream and used in dips and dressings, thinned with water or milk and used as a substitute for buttermilk, or stirred into soups and pasta as a creamy swap for heavy cream. For the best taste and texture, choose full-fat or 2% plain Greek yogurt.
- Dried Thin Spaghetti: Dried spaghetti is a pantry mainstay, but thin spaghetti is far more versatile. Use it with your favorite pasta sauce but also in Asian stir-fries and noodle salads, brothy soups, and noodle bowls.
- Canned Chickpeas: Of all the canned beans, chickpeas stand out. They’re meatier than white beans or kidney beans, and their flavor and texture tend to hold up better in the can. Eat them cold in salads, warm in stews and skillet dinners, or roast them for a crunchy snack.
- Canned Cherry Tomatoes: If your pantry is stocked with canned whole peeled and diced tomatoes, great, but make room for canned cherry tomatoes. While lesser-known, you’ll be hooked the instant you try them. They’re packed with the skin on and are extra fresh and sweet-tasting, which means they can be enjoyed both cooked, in soups and pasta sauces, and straight from the can, in salads and on toast.
- Frozen Shrimp: A bag of sustainably sourced, raw, peeled and deveined IQF (individually quick frozen) shrimp in the freezer is an instant meal starter. You don’t even have to worry about thawing them ahead of time. Simply pour out what you need in a strainer and run cold water over the shrimp for a few minutes until thawed. Toss into stir-fries, pasta, and more. Frozen salmon fillets are another smart bet.
- Eggs: There’s never a wrong time of day for eggs, which is why they’re such an all-star. Soft-boil a jammy egg to serve over salad or in a sandwich for lunch, and simmer in a saucy skillet or add to fried rice for dinner. And don’t forget that omelets and soufflés are great pantry meals that can use up cheese ends and leftover veggies.
- Bagged Frozen Spinach: Skip the boxes of frozen chopped spinach and opt for the bags of loose frozen chopped spinach. They’re superior because you don’t have to thaw the entire package if you don’t need it. It’s a great option when you’re low on fresh produce. Add it to soups and scrambled eggs, or use it to make spicy creamed spinach to stuff into pasta shells. Frozen peas are a runner-up for versatility, a great addition to stir-fries, grain bowls, and stews for a last-minute pop of color and freshness.
- Long-Grain Brown Rice: Nothing against white rice, but brown rice has more flavor and nutrition, plus it holds up better in soups and stews. Choose long-grain brown rice, such as jasmine or basmati, for the most versatility. Enjoy it as the base for grain bowls, stir-fries, and grain salads, and as the star of fried rice.
- Puff Pastry Dough: This buttery, flaky, frozen dough has so many surprising uses. It can be rolled out and baked with vegetables and cheese to become a savory tart for lunch or dinner; folded and filled to become sweet or savory hand pies; used as a crust for pie and quiche; as the top for a chicken pot pie; and even cooked in a waffle iron for almost-instant waffles.
- Organic Broth: A carton of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth or stock can fast-track a brothy bowl of noodles, soup, or stew and is a great blank canvas for layering flavors.
Don’t Overbuy Produce
When you're buying in bulk to save on shopping trips, it’s tempting to stuff your cart with a ton of fresh veggies that all need to be used at the same time. You can avoid waste and spoilage by selecting a mix of tender organic produce plus sturdier items. Use produce with the shortest shelf life first and fill in Week Two meals with good keepers and freezer options, like frozen spinach or peas, to ensure your dishes have a fresh green element well into the second week.
Identify Your Personal Pantry MVPs
The final step is to fine tune your pantry.
Think about what you need to complete your family’s favorite meals. If Taco Night is a weekly event, be sure you’ve got black beans, tortillas and Simply Organic Southwest Taco Seasoning Mix or Simmer Sauce on your list. For savory curries, you’ll want to stock up on Simply Organic Madras Curry, Tikka Masala or Korma Simmer Sauce in the cabinet. And, have a good supply of short-grain rice or rice noodles to pair with Simply Organic General Tso’s, Pad Thai or Korean Style BBQ Simmer Sauce.
Homing in on the ingredients used most often in the meals you like best helps control pantry clutter and ensures you’re always ready to cook a flavor-packed organic meal, even on a weeknight. The chart below will help get you started.
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Simply Organic Simply Organic Southwest Taco Seasoning Mix 1.13 oz. SKU: 18533$1.99
Simply Organic Simply Organic Madras Curry Simmer Sauce 6 fl. oz. SKU: 19627$3.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce 6 fl. oz. SKU: 19629$3.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic Korma Simmer Sauce 6 fl. oz. SKU: 19626$3.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic General Tso's Simmer Sauce 8 fl. oz. SKU: 19644$3.79
Simply Organic Simply Organic Korean BBQ Simmer Sauce 8 fl. oz. SKU: 19625$3.79
Lastly, Keep Track of What Needs Replacing
As you’re cooking your way through your two-week haul, make a note of what you’ve used up. That way you won’t need to inventory the cabinets, fridge, and freezer every time you head to the store, and can be confident that you have everything you need for weeks of great eating, no shopping required.
Produce Longevity Chart
This chart will help you prioritize which foods to grab first and which will still be happy and flavorful for up to two weeks — and in some cases more — if well stored and refrigerated.
Pantry MVPs by Cuisine
Use this chart to help stock your pantry with flavor in mind and you’ll always be set for a week — or more weeks — of full-flavored organic meals without a last-minute market run.