Staples in your pantry

Have you ever opened your pantry 30 minutes before dinner was supposed to be ready, only to find that you were out of everything? Well, maybe not everything, but sliced almonds, cake icing and a bag of potato chips just wouldn’t cut it for a rounded meal. Staples, such as dried fruit, pasta and canned tomatoes are essential to every pantry. Without these base foods, we, as cooks, are at a loss when it comes time for dinner.

What's on hand in your arsenal of food?

If you went over and looked in your pantry, what would you find? Do the same thing with your refrigerator and freezer. Now take a look in the cabinet that you keep all the junk food stashed in – ok, close that cabinet, it won’t help any with what we are about to do.

Chances are, if you are the average home, you probably have some basic ingredients that are kept well stocked in case there is a rushed day. You know the ingredients that you can pull out at a moment’s notice and whip something together that will nutritiously satisfy your family for a night while you make sure to actually take out the pot roast so it can defrost this time.

The next time you are stuck trying to pull together a last minute dinner, stop for a second and think about the ingredients you are using. Could you add in another vegetable or try braising instead of pan-frying to change the entire taste and texture of your emergency meal?

The tongue has about 10,000 taste buds; you would be surprised how quick it becomes accustomed to flavors and textures. Shortly after that, boredom sets in and the tongue awaits something new to experience. In order to keep your tongue on its toes, figuratively speaking of course, it is always a great idea to change things up. This change can be as easy as working a new ingredient into a well-known dish.

Some of the world’s greatest dishes came from experimenting with certain foods. Take, for instance, the waffle cone or the potato chip. Both of these classics were invented by mistake. People playing around and experimenting with the ingredients they already had on hand turned out with a new product that was completely unique. Both of these are now huge successes around the world. Let’s take a look at what you may have in your pantry or fridge and see what new ideas can be formulated.

Pasta is a food that most people have in their arsenal of common foods. Next time you fix pasta, try adding in some raisins and olives for the sweet and salty feel of a slightly Mediterranean dish.

Run out of milk? That’s ok, just use yogurt to replace the liquid content in your cereal. Incorporate some bakers chocolate into your next batch of chili and deep fry the pickles in some flour before topping your next burger, for a different kind of crunch. There are many different ways to spice up your arsenal of food; it just takes a little creativity to keep out the mundane.

Step into the kitchen; pick up your pan and oven mitt and start adding in new ingredients. Don’t be afraid to try something completely out of the ordinary, after all, there are always the frozen pizzas as a quick and easy back up to a meal gone awry. Just stay away from the junk food cabinet unless you plan on a Twinkie Cheesecake – although regular potato chips make a great coating for fried chicken.