Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's for Supper?

If I had to guess, poor planning probably ranks high on the list of why people choose to eat fast food versus coming home and fixing a good meal. If you ever get in the habit of eating food you've prepared at home and then drop in for a burger at a fast-food joint, you'll understand what I'm talking about. Once my body got used to home-cooked, take out food literally makes me sick. Not from all places, but the majority of them. Who knows what's in the food and how they're cooking it? I know what I'm using and it just tastes better.


Here are three ways that helped me get more organized in the kitchen. The first is to stock your fridge, freezer and pantry. If you always keep the basics on hand, you will always be able to throw a meal together in no time flat! (Scroll to the bottom for a recommended pantry list) Andy's rule of thumb: if you take it out, write it on the grocery list. That way you always have it.


The second one may take a little while to get done. I found I was fixing the same old thing over and over when the boys were younger. They weren't really picky, I just got stuck in a rut. One weekend I sat down and made a list of all the main courses, grilled food and sides that ranked really high on our list and put it in a spreadsheet. It is still taped inside the cabinet door where I keep my spices. I can literally open that door and put something together in no time.
Lastly, buy a chalkboard, dry-erase board or whatever medium works for you and hang it in a place so everyone can see it. That way, if one night will be leftover night and you have a family member who hates leftovers, they know they can pickup something on the way home that makes them happy and the chefs get a night off from cooking. The best way to accomplish this is to sit down on Saturday and prepare what you're going to fix every night. At that point, check your pantry and make a list of what you need for the week. 
Below you will find a wonderful Free Pantry List and food storage guide I found online (and edited to represent what we would keep) filled with basic ingredients & storage staples for stocking your cupboard or food pantry with grocery basics in case of emergency.
 





REFRIGERATOR


Eggs
Butter or margarine
Milk
Half and half
Sour cream
Cream cheese
Mild cheese
Sharp cheese
Mozzarella
Parmesan cheese

Shredded cheese
Sliced cheese
Mayonnaise

Salad Dressing
Yellow mustard
Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce
Steak sauce
Horseradish
Ketchup
Pickle relish
Hot pepper pickles
Green olives
Ripe olives
Assorted pickles
Salsa
Jellies or jams
Apple butter
Refrigerator biscuits
Bacon
Fat back or reserved bacon grease

Better than Bouillion Beef
Better than Bouillion Chicken

Minced garlic





FREEZER


Ice
Vegetables
Ground beef
Whole chicken
Boneless chicken breasts
Boneless pork chops
Bulk sausage
Bacon
Breads and rolls
Prebaked pizza shells
Fresh breadcrumbs
Bread cubes
Flour tortillas
Corn tortillas
Non-dairy topping
Walnuts
Pecans
Almonds
Frozen fruits
 





PRODUCE


White potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Onions
Sweet peppers
Fresh mushrooms
Lettuce
Cucumbers
Tomatoes
Carrots
Apples
Oranges
Lemons
Limes






DRY GOODS


All-purpose flour
Cornmeal
Granulated sugar
Confectioner's sugar
Brown sugar
Baking soda
Baking powder
Yeast
Cornstarch
Unsweetened cocoa
Biscuit mix
Vegetable shortening
Oatmeal
Cereal
Crackers
Dried breadcrumbs
Pasta (such as):
    Penne or ziti
    Spaghetti
    Angel hair
    Fettuccini
    Lasagna
    Shells
    Elbows
Egg noodles

Mahatma yellow rice
Long grain rice
Brown rice

Pinto beans
Great Northern beans

Onion soup mix
Dried corn

Taco seasoning
Ranch dressing mix
Italian dressing mix
Pepper gravy mix





CANNED / BOTTLED


Whole tomatoes
Tomato paste
Tomato puree
Tomato sauce
Crushed tomatoes
Chicken broth
Condensed cream of mushroom, chicken and celery soup
Canned fruits
Worcestershire sauce
Soy sauce
Tuna
Green beans
Asparagus
Creamed corn

Whole kernel corn
Black beans
Black eyed peas
Mushrooms
Lima beans
Carrots
Sliced potatoes
Evaporated milk
Peanut butter
Canned chiles
Assorted pickles
Olives
Chopped pimentos
Sesame oil
Salsa
Light corn syrup
Pancake syrup
Honey
Pure vanilla
Almond flavoring
Bouillon
Hot sauce

Cocktail sauce
Sweet and Sour sauce





VINEGAR / OIL


Olive oil
Canola oil
Peanut oil
Olive oil spray
Cooking oil spray
Red wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
White distilled vinegar
Cider vinegar






SPIRITS


Dry red wine
Dry white wine
Rum
Assorted liqueurs
Beer






DRIED HERBS



Parsley
Oregano
Basil
Rosemary
Thyme
Rubbed sage
Marjoram
Cilantro
Bay leaves
Chives
Tarragon
Dill weed
Dill seed
Onion powder
Minced onions
Garlic powder
Minced garlic





SPICES



Peppercorns
Coarse salt
Iodized salt
Cinnamon sticks
Ground cinnamon
Ground nutmeg
Ground cloves
Whole cloves
Ground turmeric
Ground allspice
Ground mace
Pickling spice
Mustard seed
Dry mustard
Cayenne pepper
Celery seed
Caraway seeds
Fennel seeds
Ground ginger
Ground cumin





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