10 Pantry Staples to Make Quick Cooking Taste Like All Day Cooking

Stocking up on often used pantry items when they are on sale is the perfect way to not only save money on item you know will not go to waste but also to ensure that you will have enough ingredients on hand at all times to throw a meal together in a matter of minutes. Here is a list of my top ten pantry items that will help you add that all-day cooked flavor to quick cooking meals.

  1. Pasta: Pasta is so versatile that you could make dinner with it every night for a month and never have the same meal twice. Dried pasta is the perfect pantry staple to stock up on every time it goes on sale at your grocery store. Keep different size and shaped noodles on hand to make meals more interesting. Dried pasta can be added to soups, stews or casseroles, it can be used as a bed for your favorite stir-fry, to add some bulk to your meal or it can be the star of the show – a quick go-to meal by simply adding your favorite jarred sauce.

    A couple of things to keep in mind when cooking with dried pasta are: Always put your pot of pasta water on the stove before you do anything else to begin preparing your meal. You don’t want to have the rest of your meal prepared and getting cold while you are still waiting for the pasta water to boil so give it a head start. Also, if you are serving pasta as the star of the show, topped with your favorite sauce, you should always use a noodle with lines or ridges in it because it will give the sauce a place to go and do not rinse the noodles when you drain them because it will help the sauce stick.

  2. Spaghetti Sauce: Of course you can use a jar of spaghetti sauce to pour over spaghetti for a quick meal any night of the week, but think outside the box a little when it comes to this pantry staple. You would be surprised how many different ways spaghetti sauce can be used. The great thing about spaghetti sauce is that all of the cooking has been done and that all-day flavor is already sealed in. There are so many varieties on the store shelves that you can get a sauce with whatever flavor combination you prefer, or you can get a simple marinara sauce and spice it up your own way by adding fresh herbs and vegetables to suit your pallette and your menu.
  3. Prepared Broths: Boxes or cans of prepared beef, chicken and vegetable broth are a must have pantry staple. When it comes to quick cooking you should not pass up any opportunity to add flavor. You can do this by substituting broth in place of water to add extra flavor to any recipe. You can even cook your rice in broth instead of water. If you cook often the larger boxes of broth can be stored in the refrigerator after opening so you can use as much or as little as you need and they can sometimes be a better bargain than the cans. If you do wind up with leftover broth in an opened container and are afraid that you will not be able to use it quickly, pour it into ice cube trays and freeze it. You can pop out as many cubes as you need and melt them right into your recipe. You can even get fancy by adding some dried herbs to your broth cubes before freezing for extra flavor.
  4. Quick Cooking Rice: Rice is a great way to add bulk to a meal. Serving a stir fry of meat and vegetables over rice makes a delicious and satisfying meal. Rice is also a great way to add some whole grains to your diet by using brown rice or wild rice instead of white rice. Experiment with different flavors and find one that your family enjoys. Rice also makes a great side dish either by itself, with vegetables mixed in or simply topped with your favorite spaghetti sauce.
  5. Condensed Soups: Condensed soups are a fabulous way to add both moisture and flavor to quick cooking meals. You will find recipe ideas right on the soup can labels and there have been entire cookbooks written around the theme of cooking with condensed soups. Cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery and condensed cheese soup are probably the most popular. Take a close look at the soup selection the next time you are in the grocery store. Read the recipes on the labels and stock up on any that you can incorporate into your weekly menu planning. If nothing else, you can make soup for lunch or dinner on a cold rainy day. Don’t forget the chicken noodle in case somebody doesn’t feel well.
  6. Dried Herbs and Spices: Having a stock of herbs and spices on hand will really help “spice” up your quick meals. Kosher salt, whole black peppercorns (to grind in a pepper grinder), parsley, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, cumin, chili powder, mustard powder and paprika would be a great starting point. Unless you cook a lot, buy these items in the smallest quantity possible. Dried herbs and spices can lose their flavor and it is recommended that you should replace them after 6 months. You will wind up wasting money if you buy the jumbo size container of paprika, only use it once or twice and wind up throwing it away.
  7. Liquid Condiments: Worcestershire, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce, and an assortment of vinegars are some liquid condiments that can pack a punch when it comes to adding flavor to your quick fix meals.
  8. Canned Tomatoes: Having a variety of canned tomato products in your pantry is a great way to add all-day cooked flavor to your meals. You can add variety by mixing up the size of the tomatoes, from whole to finely diced. You can even purchase the cans with herbs and spices already added.
  9. Canned Beans: Beans are a great source of fiber and an excellent way to add bulk to your meals, but cooking with dried beans can take a very long time because you typically have to soak them overnight and then cook them for hours until they soften. Canned beans give you the same benefits in a fraction of the time and if you stock up when they are bargain-priced they can be beneficial to your wallet as well.
  10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is an absolute cooking staple. Even though oil is a fat, extra virgin olive oil is considered a healthy fat because it contains antioxidants like Vitamin E, it can lower you bad cholesterol while raising your good cholesterol and studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil can actually help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer. You should keep in mind, though, that even with all of these health benefits, extra virgin olive oil is still a fat and it should be consumed in moderation. Two tablespoons per day should be your limit. There are many varieties of extra virgin olive oil on the market and some can be very expensive. Do a little taste testing to find a moderately priced brand that suits your palate and watch for it to go on sale.

Tracy Alt’s website, Tips to Organize Life, is the website that provides shortcuts, tips and tricks to help you get things done faster and better. Tips to Organize Life focuses on all aspects of life, including organzing your home, cooking, entertaining, money management, children, communication, gardening, planning for emergencies and more.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/

Share Your Thoughts


Disclaimer & Disclosure Opinions expressed by contributing authors, commenters and reviewers are solely the responsibility and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Menus4Moms.com. Menus4Moms.com contains outbound links to websites offering resources related to cooking or the home. Menus4Moms.com may be offered compensation for these links, either in the form of commissions or flat advertising fees. [ Read more ]