Choose Items Carefully For Your Pantry

This spicy veggie patty is the centerpiece  of a $10 family meal.

This is an example of a $10 family meal. All the ingredients were sitting in our pantry just waiting to nourish our family.

We all know it is important to have a well-stocked pantry for emergencies. But more than that, it lays the foundation for assembling hundreds of different meals. It is important to take care in choosing the food in order to save space, money and the nutritional value of the food.

There are many things to consider so we’ll post our ideas in three segments, Here are some tips and tricks for you to think about.

But first: “Pantry?” The word really means a room for storing kitchen stuff but nutritionists use the term to mean “larder” or supply of food. So the pantry can include the cupboard, fridge, freezer, cooler, ice cave, food in reserve and such. Whew, that’s done!

The tasty meal in the picture was a planned meal and all the ingredients came from our refrigerator-freezer. Why did we choose these items?

A Bargain!  WinCo had 1# packages of frozen veggies for 59¢ so we grabbed a dozen bags for the month.We could use more but veggies are bulky and take up space. Stock up when the price fits your budget but don’t over do it..

High nutritional value  We always keep leafy greens, Feta cheese, natural juice and almonds in the refrigerator. For the pictured $10 meal, there are at least 10 grams of protein on this plate (cheese, dressing, peas and almonds) .

We rounded out the dinner with a vegetable patty entrée . Three types are available at Costco, Whole Foods and  Community Food Coops. The best patties are packed full of shredded vegetables, mushrooms and bread crumbs bound together with soy products. Read the evaluation by Vegan Epicurean. Two others are available. One uses a bean mixture and resembles real hamburger. The other is soy based with assorted fillings  (spinach.)

Versatility. The vegetable patties are a good food to have on hand because they can be used for sandwiches, layered in casseroles, crumbled for omelets and pasta dishes, or sliced for wraps, burritos and tacos.

Little chance of Spoilage Food in your pantry needs a long shelf life. We repackaged the veggie patties using zip-lock bags and planned on using them within 2 months. Other things to consider when preventing spoilage:

  • Does the food need to be frozen, refrigerated, or shelved in a cool place? If in doubt, refrigerate or freeze it.
  • Will insects or mice invade the pantry? Make sure you have the right containers.
  • Buy only what you can use in two months. Weevils can ruin your wheat stores, air can affect spices, beans can dry out, and oil become rancid.
  • Know the shelf life of the food.

To set up your pantry, make A List ingredients for some of your favorite meals. Then ask yourself if it can be stored or purchased when needed.

Stay tuned for our list of pantry items and food storage recommendations.