The Budget Smart Cook Loves Pantry Standbys

The Internet has been abuzz with tips for trimming your food budget. An idea that seems to show up regularly is using up all the items that are sitting in your pantry. It’s a great tip but as we Budget Smart Girls know, stocking the pantry in the first place plays a major role in saving money. Here are some items to keep on hand for those impromptu meals.

I keep a couple of different types of pasta on hand at all times. It might be spaghetti, penne, even a box of lasagna. One of the quickest meals to put together is any type of pasta dish. And I always fall back on using pasta when I’m in a lazy state of mind. It could be spaghetti with marinara sauce…also great to keep in the pantry. Another favorite idea is to toss any type of pasta with cubes of mozzarella cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives and a generous sprinkling of basil. And if I’m in a hurry and can’t wait for rice to cook, I’ll often substitute pasta, especially in something like a stir-fry.

While I’m not a fan of canned soups, they do come in handy for quick meals. I keep a couple of soups like lentil on hand all the time. For a quick meal, you can add cooked chopped sausage…. Italian sausage pairs really well with lentils. You can even add vegetarian sausages too. I like to serve this with a tossed salad and some crusty French bread. You’ve got a perfect meal that took you less than 10 minutes to put together.

Tuna’s great to have on hand all year round, but it’s a must when summer arrives. When tomatoes are in abundance, there’s nothing simpler than a tuna salad served in a tomato. I also like to make salad nicoise using tuna, olives, green beans and chopped, boiled Yukon Gold potatoes.

Curry Simmer Sauces
Although I like to make my own curry sauces, sometimes I’m in a hurry, yet crave something spicy, and it’s great to have something standing by. My pantry always has a couple of jars of various curry simmer sauces sitting on the shelves.

Another item I like to keep on hand is a package of tortillas. So many quick meals can be made using them, quesadilla, burritos and enchiladas.

The pantry shelves are never without at least three or four types of beans. You can make just about anything with them, soup, dips, fillings for burritos, homemade veggie burgers and chili.

I always keep a couple of packages of frozen bread dough in the freezer and not just because it comes in handy if I run out of bread. I often use it to put together a calzone or pizza.

Not Just Pantry Standbys
Who says the pantry only means non-perishables? Here are some other items I like to keep on hand.

From the Freezer
One item you’ll always find in my freezer is a couple of packages of stir-fry veggies. Sometimes they’ll be the store brand variety, or sometimes I’ll make my own.

From the Fridge
I’m never without a box of eggs and at least two varieties of cheese. Combine these two ingredients and the possibilities are endless. An omelet, frittata, strata or even a savory or sweet bread pudding.

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