Portrait of Pantry Meals for a Week

So you’re convinced that the pantry is a smart time investment.  Let’s look at how a real life pantry works, so you can begin to see what kinds of things can be bought, successfully stored, then translated into deliciously quick meals.

Key fact to remember:  the pantry is bigger than just a couple cupboards on the back porch where you store extra boxes of cereal and cans of coffee.  Think of the “pantry” as encompassing the frig, freezer and practically every other cupboard in the kitchen.  All these locations can hold foods that can be bought in advance and stored for at least a couple weeks which, by the way, is the definition of a “pantry staple.”

Viewing the pantry in these more expansive terms presents a lot more opportunities.  For me, discovering the pantry possibilities of the freezer has been especially fun.  Year after year, I discover more and more foods that can be successfully and conveniently stored in the freezer to facilitate fast and efficient mealmaking.  I even adopted a deep freezer that a neighbor was discarding a couple years ago and, as you’ll see this in the following table, I draw on it extensively for winter meals:

Day 1

  • Poached Salmon with Celeriac and Pear Mirepoix
  • Wild Rice with Butter
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  1. From the freezer:  salmon, green beans
  2. From the frig:  celeriac, pears, carrots, green onions preserved in olive oil, butter
  3. From the cupboards:  onions, wild rice blend, spices

Day 2

  • Sun-Dried Tomato Salmon Cakes
  • Peas with Butter
  • Leftover Wild Rice
  1. From the freezer:  sweet green peas
  2. From the frig:  leftover rice and salmon, mustard, ketchup, eggs
  3. From the cupboards:  sun-dried tomatoes, breadcrumbs, spices

Day 3

  • Steak with Moroccan Spices
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Cumin Scented Cabbage Salad
  1. From the freezer:  steak, corn on the cob
  2. From the frig:  cabbage, carrots, apples
  3. From the cupboards:  Italian salad dressing, spices

Day 4

  • Carrot Cashew Soup
  • Roasted Potatoes
  1. From the frig:  carrots, celeriac, cashews, bottled ginger
  2. From the cupboards:  garlic, onion, potatoes, spices, chicken broth

Day 5

  • Fish Tostadas
  • Leftover Cabbage Slaw
  1. From the freezer:  white fish, green peppers, red peppers
  2. From the frig:  leftover cabbage slaw
  3. From the cupboards:  tostada shells, salsa, diced chilies, spices

Day 6

  • Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Pesto Gratin
  • Sauteed Spinach with Lemon and Garlic
  1. From the freezer:  pesto, chopped spinach
  2. From the frig:  lemon
  3. From the cupboards:  spaghetti squash, marinara sauce, breadcrumbs, garlic

Day 7

  • Pumpkin and Black Bean Stew with Green Peppers
  • Brown Rice
  • Carrot Sticks
  1. From the freezer:  green peppers
  2. From the frig:  limes, carrots
  3. From the cupboards:  rice, black beans, onions, pumpkin, chilies, salsa, garlic, canned tomatoes

Surprised at how many meals I can make without having to set foot in a grocery store?  And they aren’t just mac ‘n cheese or spaghetti.  They are real, healthful, balanced and interesting meals that are a delight to eat.

Since I always go a week or two between shopping trips (sometimes more), I shouldn’t be surprised that I can eat so well and long from my pantry.  Nevertheless, every time I write things out as in this exercise, I’m amazed at how bountiful a pantry can be.

Ready to begin experimenting with a pantry.  Build one if you’re pantry-less, or if you’ve got a pantry, find out how to make the most of it.   Check out my book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, which explains what to buy and how to store and organize it for easy access, or email to set up some individual kitchen coaching where we focus on setting up a helpful and healthful pantry. Also, check out tomorrow’s blog: How to Stock the Pantry, and you might like to read all the articles in this series:

Invaluable Kitchen Resource Gets No Respect

Remedy for the Post-Vacation Refrigerator Blues

Time Spent Stocking the Pantry Isn’t Wasted, It’s Invested!

How Many Great Meals Are Hiding In Your Pantry?

. . . or Do a Better Job Working the One You Have

Good News:  The Fun of a Pantry Journey Lasts More than an Afternoon

Pantries Save Time, Reduce Stress, Save Money, Produce Intriguing Meals and Maybe Even Lead to Enlightenment

How to Breathe Fresh Air Into Yours

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  1. […] Portrait of a Week’s Worth of Pantry Meals […]

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