Cooking · Food · Meal Building Blocks

The Curated Pantry Is The Magic Pantry

If you have been around here for any length of time, you know I often speak about my Magic Pantry (aka: Pantry Magic). The Magic Pantry is a collection of foodstuffs that enable me to create a variety of meals without being tied to a set meal plan. For those of us who like more versatility or variety, this is the perfect starting point.

The magic pantry might take a bit of time to develop but it is an easy process. Last week we talked about developing a shopping list based on menu items for the week. But what if you don’t shop every week? You can tailor your shopping to the amount of menu items you need, so don’t worry.

In my case, as a rule I shop monthly splitting my list between items from my local market and Yelloh. I have a reasonably set list of things I purchase to give me a base to pull recipes for. Every once in a while I will find a special or sale on something that catches my eye or I will find I am in the mood for something a bit out of the ordinary.

As cold weather moves in, I find I really enjoy making casseroles or putting items in my slow cooker (don’t forget those show cooker liners!) So, how does this include my Magic Pantry?

Casseroles are usually a combination of a cream sauce or soup, a starch, a protein and a vegetable or two or three. Now creating the cream sauce is not that difficult but you can use canned cream soups. Look for low sodium versions. I’ve used evaporated milk instead of cream in my sauces and they come out as rich and flavorful as if I used cream or full fat milk.

Some of us have our favorite casseroles but if you are stuck or looking for new recipes Taste of Home has an interesting collection of 60 of their favorite casseroles. Click the link HERE to see their list.

So, thinking about the magic pantry, I will need to have cream soup, rice or pasta, cheese, vegetables, something for a topper…perhaps bread crumbs or fried onions or maybe croutons that I can crush. I can use canned fish or chicken or pull same from the freezer or use ground beef or turkey. You get the idea.

Frankly, I’ve been thinking a lot about tuna casserole lately. I haven’t made one in years, but it seems to be heading to my menu soon!

Another thing I love to have is an alternative to a Make A Mess meal. My Make A Mess meals are those that require a bit more effort than usual. Sometimes they are just what I am in the mood for but other times I need to find an alternative.

My Chicken Parmesan is dead easy! Yelloh has some fabulous Italian style chicken breasts that are a regular on my order. Rao’s Marinara sauce is also a pantry staple. I simply bake up the chicken I need, cook pasta and heat the sauce, top with cheese and I have a Chicken Parmesan that is tasty, easy and economical. I can make some garlic bread to go along with it, too.

That same sauce and pasta could be matched with ground meat for Spaghetti Night or the chicken could be added to a plate with rice pilaf and steamed veggies.

If you would like to check out Yelloh’s latest catalog click on the link HERE. You could get 25% off your first order.

As you begin to develop your list of favorite meals, don’t forget to make notes of the brands you have tried. Quite often I try different brands of sauces, condiments, etc. Some I like, some I’m not a fan of, and every once in a while I find something amazing. This is especially important if you shop in a store that does not always carry nationwide brands.

Food For Thought

Now might be a good time to add a bag of cooking apples to your pantry. You can use them for a pie, a crisp, to make an apple cake or apple sauce. We are heading into the Fall Holidays, so keep this in mind as you contemplate your grocery shopping. Buying in advance those items you know you will use later can save you time and stress later on when prices and quantities shift.

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