The way we shop, cook, and eat has changed quite a bit in the last month for most of us. Infrequent shopping trips mean we have to make lists wisely and often we find certain ingredients unavailable and shelves empty once we arrive at stores. Many people have a smaller food budget right now which necessitates shopping carefully and ensuring we use the food we buy and not let it go to waste. Some people are unable to shop for themselves and are relying on others to shop for them. Many are beginning to plant gardens or expand their existing gardens as the reality of the long-term effects of this situation sets in.
However, despite all the challenges, I am heartened and optimistic when I see so many people cooking again. With more time, people are exploring food! Yeast and flour are extremely hard to come by since so many people have been experimenting with artisan breads. Social media is filled with images of food made from scratch by proud home chefs. This is encouraging and I hope we never go back to relying on others to feed us!
Having a stocked pantry is always important, but now it seems imperative. Keeping your pantry well-stocked doesn’t mean hoarding though. There will be enough food for everyone if everyone purchases just what they need! I find people have been incredibly supportive and willing to share what they have. I hope this caring for one another continues in the future long after the pandemic has passed.
Here are some tips on how to prep your pantry:
Keep a variety of dry beans and lentils on hand. They are non-perishable, cheap and very nourishing. They are a good source of protein as well. Lentils are a big Canadian crop so it’s a great way to support our country’s farmers.
Legumes can also be sprouted – a fun way to enjoy them fresh and uncooked!
Chickpeas can become hummus, or roast them for a crunchy snack or salad topper instead of croutons.
Check out http://www.pulsecanada.com/resources/ for some more recipes and ideas.
Breakfast can easily be inspired by pantry items. Chia puddings with chia seeds and coconut milk, oatmeal or overnight oats, or homemade granola. Grains other than oats can make great porridges – try millet or quinoa for a fun change. Savory breakfasts can also start in the pantry. Shakshuka is a flavourful and spicy tomato and egg breakfast. https://food52.com/recipes/65845-yotam-ottolenghi-s-shakshuka
Grains, Nuts, and Seeds
In my dry pantry, I have an assortment of grains: millet, various types of rice, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, flour, etc. I tend to buy these in larger bulk quantities so that I always have them on hand. Don’t buy more than you can use up in a reasonable amount of time. Whole grains will keep well for quite a while, but the more processed grains, such as flours, will go stale more quickly, so it’s best to buy those in smaller quantities. Many of these grains can be used in sweet or savory applications, giving you lots of options! Quinoa is also a complete protein, so is great to keep on hand for easy vegetarian meals.
Nuts are seeds should be kept in the fridge or freezer unless you intend to eat them right away. They have a high oil content and will go rancid quite quickly with heat and light. Nuts are seeds are good sources of healthy fat and protein and can easily get incorporating into existing meals.
This is one of the most versatile pantry items. Stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce can become a salsa, a pasta sauce, a tomato soup, a base for chili or a curry. Sundried tomatoes can add deep flavour to a pasta dish or become a quick topping for crostini.
Keep your freezer full of items like frozen fruit, soups and stews, chili, etc. You can prepare smoothie jars/bags in advance with everything you need for your smoothie (except the liquid) for a quick breakfast or snack. I always cook big batches of beans then freeze extra in containers or bags so I have them on hand. Beans like garbanzo beans can be frozen on cookie sheets first, then bagged, to ensure they don’t stick together. This way you can scoop out just what you need when you need it.
While fresh food and vegetables should always play the starring role in your diet, it is important to have a diverse pantry from which you can pull in items to play a supporting role in a meal.
If you have any pantry challenges, let us know and we can make some suggestions. If you have fun panty ideas and inspirations, please share with us!