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Perfect pantry list for quick and easy meals

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone just gave you a pantry list of staples that would make dinner an easy-to-fix endeavor? Good news, Sandra Lee, star of Semi-Homemade Cooking on the Food Network and author of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals not only shares her basic pantry list for delectable family-friendly dishes, but also her perfect pantry shortcuts that will save you time – and money – in the kitchen.

Woman Putting Away Groceries

Perfect Pantry Shortcuts

Whether you make your meals from scratch or use convenient ready-made foods from your local supermarket, keeping your kitchen stocked with the basics can make your cooking time more productive and enjoyable.

1. Stock your pantry well

Add a protein (meat or soy substitute) and/or fresh vegetables to pantry staples (see list on page 2) and you can create a delicious, wholesome meal in mere minutes.

2. Choose double-duty foods

Olives, pickles, pearl onions, pineapples, cherries and peaches can serve as flavor enhancers as well as food and cocktail garnishes.

3. Think small

Buy good-quality herbs and spices in the smallest containers possible. Date them and alphabetize on inside-the-door racks. Herbs and spices start to lose their flavor after six months – are you really going to use that jumbo container of dried thyme in six months? Same goes for olive oil and other oils – only buy in quantities that you can use in a few months.

4. Get milk

Evaporated milk has 60 percent less water. Swap it for regular milk to make a dish richer and creamier. Powdered milk is thrifty for cooking – and it works exactly the same in recipes.

5. Group like items with like items

Store flour, sugar and shortening with sweet spices in one area, while storing savory spices, sauces and marinades in another. Stack food on risers and in clear, airtight containers so you won’t waste time searching for ingredients.

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