It’s 6 PM and it hits you — you have no idea what’s for dinner. Maybe you have young kids calling to be fed or your own stomach is grumbling for something — fast!
Save yourself an extra trip to the store and the cash you would spend on ordering last-minute delivery. Here we’ll walk you through how to keep your pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with nutritious staples so that you can whip up a meal or snack with very little time or effort!
Prep Your Pantry
By intentionally shopping for a few basics, you can be sure to have staples available for when life inevitably picks up speed.
The pantry and freezer can become your best friend in longer-term planning and last-minute meals. Hunkering down for a snow storm (or pandemic) doesn’t need to be the only reason to stock up!
Stocking Your Pantry
Start with whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats that are shelf-stable and can make for a quick addition to any meal. Supplement with whole wheat flours for easy baked goods along with nuts and seeds like Manitoba Milling Co Smooth Whole Milled Flaxseed that mix easily into a variety of dishes.
There are plenty of protein sources that keep well over time from dried lentils, to canned beans, or even frozen fish and chicken. Find what works best for you and aim to keep a few on hand for last-minute meals.
Choosing Fruits and Vegetables
There are plenty of ways to eat fruits and veggies without rushing out to the store every other day. If you don’t have fresh produce on hand, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are picked and packed at their peak ripeness so they retain excellent nutrition value.
For a complete list, find our recommended pantry, fridge, and freezer staples here!
Set Your Week Up for Success
Your kitchen is stocked — now what?
The basic concept of meal prepping involves simply planning ahead or prepping a few easy meal staples that you can use throughout the week.
If you’re just getting started, start small! Pick one time of day that you would benefit the most from having food prepared ahead of time — breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks.
Cook a Few Food Groups
Pick a time (possibly at the beginning of the week) to prepare a few main foods and repurpose them throughout the rest of the week. For example, you can cook a batch of brown rice and roast some chicken and vegetables in the oven and these three staples can serve as the base to many of your meals for the week.
Build Unique Meals from Your Prep
You can eat the food as-is, or you can use them alongside spices and other staples in your pantry and fridge to make burrito bowls one night, quesadillas the next, and fried rice the following. By carving out a little time, you set your week up for success by having something on hand in case life gets busy.
We have plenty of ideas to help you use your pantry staples to create delicious meals and snacks for your family. You can check out a full list here!
Make the Most of Leftovers
Whether you are cooking for one or a family of six, you don’t have to be worried about wasting any food.
If you didn’t eat all the food you prepped, you can freeze the leftovers in a sealed bag or reusable container (within 3-4 days of cooking) and you’re already helping your future self! Once your food is frozen, be sure to follow these food safety guidelines when reheating leftovers.
If you want double the payoff for a similar amount of prep, consider doubling the batch of whatever you are cooking so you can put some in the freezer for later!
For more tips on how to create a weekly meal plan for your family, check out this post!
Prepping meals for yourself or your family doesn’t have to be a hassle! By keeping a few staples on hand, taking a little time to prep, and making the most of your freezer, you can enjoy quick and nutritious meals — no matter what life throws at you!