Monday, December 6, 2010

A Well Stocked Pantry is the Key to a Happy Home Cook

Inspiration in the cupboards...

A well stocked pantry is the backbone of any successful home cook. On a busy weekday or weekend shop we tend to focus on the fresh food and neglect our pantries. We buy meat, milk, cheese and eggs but a really great cook is only as good as what they can take out the pantry and work their magic on. Organized pantries have the ability to inspire creativity.

Dried Fruit

At a glace couscous, nuts and dried fruit can be made into an amazing salad, no shopping required. You can find a dozen meals lurking in a tin of tuna. A jar of marmalade or preserves can easily be turned into syrup for pancakes or transformed into a dressing for salad. A truly well stocked pantry goes well beyond pasta, bread crumbs and canned tomatoes. Good quality chocolate, mustard, vanilla, capers, sun dried tomatoes, quinoa, canned beans, honey etc. are all key elements required to take something simple to the next level.

You can easily spend a fortune on take out and rotisserie chickens because when you get home from work at 6:45 and you would like to eat dinner before breakfast it can be discouraging when you don't have a plan. Coming home at 6:45 to a well stocked pantry can mean dinner is no more than 15 or 20 minutes away. Cooking dinner from the pantry is a great way to get your creative juices flowing and take you mind off the stresses of the day. Have a glass of wine and tuck into the pantry. Make a salad from the canned beans, create a delicious glaze on the fly for a piece of grilled chicken, boil some pasta and make a sauce from sun dried tomatoes and some fixings from the fridge.

I know it sounds a bit radical to think you can make dinner without a plan but it's true and if your pantry is well stocked you sort of do have a plan - you just need to put it all together. Keep a list in your pantry - I use a note pad that is sitting on the top shelf, as I think of things I need or run out of I add it to the list. I take the list with me when I am shopping and try to add a new item or two every couple of weeks just to keep life interesting. Apparently we aren't quite done with the winter - the forecast is for snow again this week. We can't change the weather or the state of the economy so might as well change the way we think about dinner. Stock up your pantry and have some fun, life is short so you might as well enjoy dinner.

A Well Stocked Pantry is the Key to a Happy Home Cook

Angie Quaale is the owner of Well Seasoned gourmet food store and cooking school in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. Well Seasoned is the area's premier destination for all things gourmet. Angie has a diverse background in the food industry and is a well known local foodie. She is a board member of Les Dames D'Esscoffier and has a regular food column called "Food for Thought" in the Langley Times. She often appears on TV, radio and in print where she shares her vast knowledge as a well seasoned foodie.

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