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Pantry Essentials for Your Next Snow Day

Written by Adrienne Wolter, Community Blogger | Jan 13, 2014 10:23 AM

As you reach for the snooze button, you take a quick glance out of your window only to notice that your street has, overnight, transformed into a winter wonderland. In complete disbelief, you scan your phone's weather app to read that a wintry mix is predicted for the rest of the day. Just to be sure, you turn to your trusty remote and discover the local news declares that the roads are closed in a state of emergency. No work for you today.

Elated to have a day off, you smile; however, that grin begins to fade when you realize your plans will be put on hold. "Oh no, I was planning to go to the grocery store after work, but now I definitely can't go if the roads are closed!" In a panic, you barrel down the stairs and bust open your cabinets and pantry.

You're in luck. The shelves are fully stocked with key essentials to help you prepare for your meals today, and if needed, the rest of the week.

Storing the proper non-perishable items is crucial for weathering the storm and being prepared in the midst of any emergency. Therefore, it is important to keep some basic food items available for creating a sustainable meal.

Below are some great staples to building and maintaining a substantial, workable pantry.

Herbs & Seasonings

Even though it may seem that these ingredients are mere "cherries on the top of a sundae," in actuality, these key flavor boosters pack a big punch. While driving flavor to your taste buds, they can also assist your metabolism and help you lose weight.

Oregano

Bursting with a zesty flavor, these tiny little seasonings are heaping with health benefits, as it is jam-packed with a source of antioxidants, fiber, iron and calcium to name just a few top-notch nutrients. Not to mention that there has been a positive correlation between oregano assisting in aiding health conditions such as muscle pain, headaches and allergies.

Cinnamon

With its smooth, rich kick of flavor, it can bring ordinary food to a comfort food level. Its versatility allows you to incorporate it in every day dishes and can even help lower cholesterol and reduce the unwanted side-effects of higher fat meals. In turn, your body can lose extra pounds due to bad fats.

Peppercorns

Fresh ground peppercorns are the perfect solution for any bland meal without all the extra sodium that can come from table salt.

Oils

A must-have for the pantry, oil is one of the best items to store as it has many purposes in the preparation of a healthy, balanced meal.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Having good oil on hand is like having a high-quality car cover; it protects the integrity of the vehicle, or in our cooking scenario, your stove-top pans. Also, this is a great item to have to add some good fat into your daily diet.

Vegetable Oil

Perfect for baking, vegetable oil is a great agent to fuse flour and other dry ingredients together to make hearty breads, casseroles or even desserts. If your pantry is lacking this item, you can always substitute oil for apple sauce.

Starches

pantry-starches.jpg

Photo by Lali Masriera

Considered some of the longest-storing items, starches provide enough substance to keep you full for a while. Always keep these items in stock for a quick fix that only requires water and heat.

Brown Rice

As a healthier alternative to white rice, it's subtle flavor makes for a great addition to any meal. Try incorporating some protein and vegetables if possible to get your nutrition fix.

Quinoa

A little known delight, this carbohydrate is also containing some great protein to keep you fuller longer. If you are without meat or cheese, use this as a way to meet your nutritional needs.

Pasta & Sauce

Whether linguini, penne, spaghetti, fettuccini or elbow pasta, try to keep a box stored for a quick and easy meal. Since these items are virtually flavorless, they make for great bases to any dish. Store at least one can of any kind of sauce to use as a topping for flavor.

Canned Goods

pantry-canned.jpg

Photo by F Delventhal

  • Canned fruits
  • Canned vegetables
  • Beans

The food pyramid suggestions would not be complete without fruits and vegetables. Canned for convenience, these are excellent items to have stored for any occasion. However, make sure you are aware of sodium and sugar content. In order to preserve these items, often times additives are included to keep these items last longer. Try going for low-sodium or light syrup options to keep your nutrition in check.

Baking Needs

pantry-baking.jpg

Photo by Viktor Rosenfeld

  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar

Most baking recipes call for the key ingredients listed above, especially when it comes to concocting sweet desserts. The shelf life and quantity of these ingredients is outstanding, as you can keep these stored on-hand and ready to use. Consider investing in high-quality containers to preserve these items, so that you have an even longer shelf life.

Condiments

  • Honey
  • Hot sauce or jarred chili peppers
  • Mustard
  • Peanut butter

For some healthy condiment ideas, look no further than the items listed above. Honey includes natural sugar that is free of additives and chemicals that aid as a preservative. Instead, its pure form can last a while. To indulge in low-calorie flavor, try adding hot sauce, jarred chili (a personal favorite!) or mustard to a meal. Even though they are healthier condiment options than mayonnaise and ketchup, their burst of flavor remains uncompromised. Finally, always store peanut butter for a tasty, high-protein indulgence.

While this is in no way a comprehensive list of all possible items that store well in a pantry, these are some of the key essentials to have on-hand for a solid meal. Consider including canned or packaged tuna, soups and healthy trail mix or packaged snacks to have options and levels of nutritional value. By including these items, you'll prevent being stranded due to any of life's unexpected twists. Happy shopping!

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