Monday, April 23, 2007

Foods I Wouldn't Be Without

My first husband was an ironworker and was laid-off at least once a year. We were somehow never prepared for this even though we knew it was inevitable. At any rate, coming out of a two-week slump in the food arena, I found myself re-learning some things. There are a few foodstuffs that I always have on-hand that proved invaluable and I wanted to pass the info along.

Fresh food was at a minimum and most meals were from our pantry either entirely or a large part. Some people do the pantry thing on purpose, just to see how far they can get without going to the store. Let me just say, having the option to go to the store somehow makes it easier.

The things I found that helped the most were these:

Jarred spaghetti sauce. This is extremely versatile for everything from spaghetti to chili to a great addition to soups and stews. I love it for my own Crock pot Sausage and Rice Dinner. Simmer chicken breasts in it and top with mozzarella or Parmesan (see below) for am easy Chicken Parmesan.

Canned tuna. Yep, mercury is a problem, but if you're not eating a can a day per person, you're pretty good to go. This was great for plain old tuna salad sandwiches, a dinner of Tuna and Crackers and is awesome for Tuna Pasta Puttanesca. You can also make an unusual Tuna Pate with it.

Pasta. This is a 'Cooking for Dummies' type thing. I consider pasta to be the most versatile prepared food on the planet. There is an endless array of shapes and types. If you type 'pasta recipes' into a search engine, you get a plethora of possibilities (424,000 on Blingo and 6,090,000 on Google, and that's just links!).

Rice. Another no-brainer. Brown, white, instant...the uses are endless. Type 'rice' into Google and you get 187,000,000 links!

Parmesan cheese. I make a mean Alfredo without cream; top pizza, cook up frittata, make salads and dressings, and add a little kick to almost anything savory with this.

Bouillon cubes. I added these to soup and stews and whipped up a make-do cheap gravy.

Mrs. Dash. I'm not sure what I don't add this to! I'm crazy about the Garlic and Herb flavor.

Olives. I served these as-is, added to pasta sauce, made tapenade, topped pizza and tacos...the list goes on.

Soy sauce. I only buy the good brewed stuff-it really is better. I add this to every packet of Ramen I make, use it to make lo mein(linguine, sesame oil, garlic and soy are all you need for that!), and it's a necessity for fried rice-which is best with leftover rice anyway, so it's cheap.

Tomato paste. This adds a kick of flavor to many things; soup, stew, pasta sauce, Stroganoff.


Anonymous said...

I have everything but the Mrs. Dash. And our pantry could keep us going for quite a while. It's just a good idea.

I hope your husband is back to work.


Anonymous said...

I can get all of these stuff here except Mrs. Dash.

I cant live without the food spices like garlic, onion and the likes

Anonymous said...

I agree with your list 100%. I also keep canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and a jarred lime garlic and white corn black bean salsa on my pantry shelf as well as a few other common canned items. You know, just in case.

Anne Coleman said...

Oh...garlic, onion, salsa, lemon juice...those are a given!

foodiemama said...

the things i have stocked in my pantry are always the same since we live mostly on fresh produce, etc i dontt use a whole lot....but i always have canned organic tomatoes, canned beans, pumpkin, pasta, couscous, quinoa, etc. olive oil, dried nuts and fruits and almond and coconut milk...everything else is in the fridge. no wonder my rocery bill is insane, haha.

Adopted Son said...

OK, this probably falls under the category of "Pasta," but deserves its own mention: Mac and cheese.

mr coffee said...

I hear you on the mac and cheese...
my guys turn their noses up at homemade.. they lived on "blue box" at the other address..

Here we upgrade to the country crock tub of prepared mac/cheese with a side of sodium.

I'd add frozen meatballs (aldi's special)
sure there are mystery meat ones but you can get turkey also. Good with pastas/mac and cheese on the side for your protein fix or meatball subs with those goldplated mini wegman's loafs..