Over 30 Ways to Stock Your Pantry for Fast, Fresh Family Meals


30ing_23Is your family busy? Mine too. With school and the busy fall season just around the corner, we’ve been focusing on healthy options for quick, whole food dinners. Last week we did a round-up of our favorite ideas for 10 minute dinners, and today we’d like to share our list of 30 pantry ingredients to have on hand for quick, easy, and delicious dinners.

We’ve all been there–dinnertime is approaching, you open the cupboard or fridge only to find you’re out of options. Here’s our list of over 30 long-lasting key ingredients, along with ideas, for fast and tasty summer dinners, so you’ll never have to say, “there’s nothing to make for dinner,” again.

  • From the Pantry: Pasta and Egg Noodles 1 of 30
    From the Pantry: Pasta and Egg Noodles
    Pasta is my number one go-to for a quick dinner. We buy lots of varieties to have on hand. For a healthier option, consider whole wheat. Egg noodles are perfect for chicken noodle soup. For a quick version, saute an onion, carrots and celery, add some leftover chicken, chicken broth, and noodles.
  • Soba, Rice, or Buckwheat Noodles 2 of 30
    Soba, Rice, or Buckwheat Noodles
    Saute some meat, add onions, ginger and your favorite veggies and toss with these versatile noodles. You'll have a well-rounded dinner in no time. Image credit: Chris 73
  • Canned Tomatoes 3 of 30
    Canned Tomatoes
    You can whip a light tomato sauce in minutes flat. Stockpile this great staple for quick weeknight dinners.
  • Pine Nuts 4 of 30
    Pine Nuts
    Toast some pine nuts, add a handful of Parmesan and herbs, and toss with pasta. Image credit: de:Benutzer:Burgkirsch
  • Canned Beans 5 of 30
    Canned Beans
    Cannelloni beans are great tossed with pasta, served on toast, or as part of a quick tomato soup. Image credit: Heather Kennedy from Atlanta, US
  • Canned Anchovies or Sardines 6 of 30
    Canned Anchovies or Sardines
    These aren't for everybody, but can be great on toast or as a way to add flavor to a quick pasta sauce.
  • Artichoke Hearts 7 of 30
    Artichoke Hearts
    I love adding these to pasta salad. Cold or hot, artichoke hearts add wonderful salty tangy flavor to all kinds of dishes. Image credit: Dwight Burdette
  • Dried Mushrooms 8 of 30
    Dried Mushrooms
    Mushrooms are a great stand-in for meat and add a ton of flavor. Consider adding mushrooms to pasta dishes or fried rice. Image credit: André Karwath aka Aka
  • Good Balsamic and Other Vinegars 9 of 30
    Good Balsamic and Other Vinegars
    I love a little acid in everything. A selection of good vinegars can dress up a veggie salad, or add kick to a pasta dish.
  • Dried Fruit–Apricots, Cherries, or Mangoes 10 of 30
    Dried Fruit--Apricots, Cherries, or Mangoes
    These come in handy for salads. Hard boiled eggs served over hearty greens taste great with a hint of sweetness from the fruit. Image credit: Loorie Cooper
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes 11 of 30
    Sun-Dried Tomatoes
    Sun-dried tomatoes are great for adding a punch of flavor to quick pasta dishes. Try tossing them into a quick saute with olive oil and garlic for a simple and quick dinner. Image credit: Andrew Deacon
  • In the Refrigerator: Cheddar Cheese 12 of 30
    In the Refrigerator: Cheddar Cheese
    Just what you need for classic mac and cheese, or grilled cheese, not to mention burgers and sandwiches. We buy this stuff by the pound. Image credit: J.P.Lon
  • Parmesan Cheese 13 of 30
    Parmesan Cheese
    Parmesan is fantastic in salads, toasts, or pasta dishes.
  • Bacon 14 of 30
    Punch up grilled cheese, pastas, or salads with this perennial favorite.
  • Prosciutto 15 of 30
    This tasty meat can do anything that bacon can do--a great way to add some protein. Image credit: Sun Taro
  • Salami 16 of 30
    Salami makes a sandwich or crackers into a meal. Image credit: André Karwath aka Aka
  • Olives 17 of 30
    A great addition to pasta salads, or savory fruit salads--or make velvety tapenade.
  • Eggs 18 of 30
    The powerhouse of quick eating. Whether hard-boiled, scrambled, or 6 minute, eggs pack a wallop of protein without much effort. Image credit: An Egg by Petr Kratochvil
  • Mozzarella 19 of 30
    Mozzarella is a splurge in our house, but this creamy salty cream is just right for simple summer sandwiches. Image credit: Jon Sullivan
  • Long-Lasting Fresh Foods: Zucchini 20 of 30
    Long-Lasting Fresh Foods: Zucchini
    Saute zucchini medallions in butter and you have a tasty 5 minutes side dish.
  • Cherry Tomatoes 21 of 30
    Cherry Tomatoes
    Longer lasting than their large counterpart, cherry tomatoes were made for pasta and summer salads.
  • Avocado 22 of 30
    Possibly the perfect food, avocados are loaded with nutrients. Serve with cheese toast, or make a quick dip.
  • Lemon 23 of 30
    Fresh squeezed lemon juice or zest builds flavor, and brightens up pastas, dips, and all kinds of salad. Image credit: André Karwath aka Aka
  • Parsley, Sage and Rosemary 24 of 30
    Parsley, Sage and Rosemary
    These long-lasting herbs lend sophistication to any meal. Consider using parsley as you would any other vegetable--parsley + Parmesan + pasta = awesome.
  • Leftovers: Leftover Rice 25 of 30
    Leftovers: Leftover Rice
    Do you like fast comfort food? Try fried rice. Saute an onion, add some vegetables, rice, soy sauce, ginger and few eggs and you have a nearly instant, super satisfying dinner. Image credit: Flickr user dslrninja
  • Stale Bread 26 of 30
    Stale Bread
    From panzanella to stuffed tomatoes to strata, stale bread comes in handy. Image credit: Klaus Höpfner
  • Roast Chicken 27 of 30
    Roast Chicken
    Hello chicken salad! Or make a quick chicken noodle soup.
  • In the Freezer: Frozen Veggies 28 of 30
    In the Freezer: Frozen Veggies
    Add flavor, color, and nutrition to pastas and stir fries.
  • Homemade Broth 29 of 30
    Homemade Broth
    From risottos to soups, homemade broth brings amazing flavor.
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce 30 of 30
    Homemade Tomato Sauce
    Consider making your favorite bolognese or marinara ahead of time, then simply thaw and serve.

Recession nutrition: How to eat healthy on the cheap

So simple, so cheap! 10 meals for two under $10

Start your day right with 10 healthy, energizing drinks

5 Tasty Ways to Eat Your Greens!

Article Posted 5 years Ago
share this article
facebook twitter tumblr pinterest
See Comments
what do you think?
share this article
facebook twitter tumblr pinterest
See Comments
what do you think?
what do you think?
close comments
Subscribe to the
Follow us on