What’s For Dinner? A List of Staples to Keep on Hand.

Life is complicated enough.

If you’re like me, you balance errands and work with carpools and after school activities. And then, there’s housework and laundry (laundry has its own category because it never, ever, ever ends), sleepovers, and the inevitable, “By the way Mom I need a snack for sixty kids by tomorrow.”

And, let’s face it, after a full day, and a full week of full days, and then a full weekend of tournaments, and lessons, and birthday parties, when asked the dreaded question “So what’s for dinner?” you may find yourself in good company with those of us who already have a well developed tic in our right eye and a barely audible whimper that escapes each time we exhale.

I’m all about avoidable stress.

With that in mind, I’ve received a request to put together a food staples list to have stocked at all times to make whipping up dinner or snacks a bit easier. These are the items I try to have on hand to cut down on last minute trips to the grocery store or the mind-bending exercise of figuring out how to make a gluten free dinner out of mustard.

If you want to amp up your planning just a wee and cut down on your frustration   a lot, try planning out a menu for the week and then you will know what grocery items to include in your regular weekly shopping. If you sign up to follow my blog (see it to the right up there?) you’ll get the newest recipes in your inbox, like magic, along with a list of items you will need.

Pantry Items to Keep Stocked:

  • Rices (try grabbing several from this list – Sushi, Jasmine, Basmati, Brown, Plain White)
  • Pastas – there are so many varieties of gluten free pasta available that the biggest choice in picking is simply based on texture. My favorite pasta is the Tinkyada brand. (Penne, Spaghetti, Macaroni, Spirals, etc.)
  • Basic Spices (Cinnamon, Ginger, Italian Spice Blend, Poultry Seasoning, Thyme, Sage, Nutmeg, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ground Cloves, & Parsley)
  • Vanilla (I have a recipe if you would like to make your own)
  • Oils (Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, and Vegetable Oil)
  • Pam Spray (or Alternate Non-Stick Spray, but remember to check for gluten as some sprays are made for baking and contain that evil wheat flour)
  • Variety of Baking Chips (Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Chunks, Peanut Butter, etc.) – Check the ingredients for hidden gluten.
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Dry Active Yeast
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda
  • Table Salt and Cracked Pepper
  • Raisins
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar (most are safe because they are blended with cornstarch but check just in case the one you pick up first decides to be sneaky)
  • Superfine Rice Flours (brown, white) – try Vitacost for low cost rice flours and starches
  • Starches (Tapioca, Corn, Potato) – again, Vitacost right now is my favorite for price, texture, and taste plus it’s non-GMO- here’s a link if you would like to check it out http://www.vitacost.com
  • Xanthan or Guar Gum – it looks like this –  http://www.bobsredmill.com/xanthan-gum.html
  • Cornmeal
  • Vinegars (Rice, Red Wine, Apple Cider, Balsamic) NOT MALT VINEGAR (this is made from barley)
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (hey now, tastes like soy sauce) or Gluten Free Tamari Sauce
  • Tomato Sauce and Diced Tomatoes
  • Pizza Sauce (My Favorite Brand is Muir Glen)
  • Beef and Chicken Broth or My Personal Favorite Better Than Bouillon brand (always check ingredients, especially on beef broth)
  • Peanut Butter or other Nut Butters
  • Canned Beans (Pinto & Black)
  • Jams or Preserves (Apricot, Blueberry)
  • Potatoes

Refrigerated Items:

  • Butter
  • Cream Cheese
  • Milk and Cream (or Half and Half)
  • Shredded Cheeses – or Buy Block Cheese and Shred it to Keep Handy)
  • Bacon
  • Plain Yogurt (I Use the Full Fat Traditional Plain Greek Yogurt)
  • Eggs (more than you think you will need – they will keep for 5 weeks)
  • Fruit and Vegetables: Apples, Lemons, Oranges, Bananas, Celery, Iceberg Lettuce, Carrots, Yellow Onions, Bell Peppers, Garlic, and then whatever is in season (see the link below for a chart of produce by season)

http://www.cuesa.org/eat-seasonally/charts/vegetables

Tip: Wash ALL of your fruits and vegetables when you arrive home before putting them away. If you do this, you are more likely to use them.  Don’t ummphf.  When you are tired or running behind, you are less likely to pull out those fresh ingredients if you know you have to wash them first.

Freezer Items:

  • Gluten Free Hamburger Buns (personally I prefer Udi brand but there are many from which to choose)
  • Gluten Free Bread (this is all about preference in taste and texture as everyone is a bit different)
  • Gluten Free Frozen Pizza Crusts
  • Vegetables (Green Beans, Pearl Onions, Peas, Mixed Veggies, Broccoli Florets, Spinach)

Protein Items:

  • Ground Beef
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Whole Fryer Chicken
  • Stew Meat or Pot Roast
  • Pork Chops or a Pork Loin
  • Fish and Tofu (if your family won’t eye roll, wretch, or feign a seizure)
Blue lightsaber

May the force be with you and the gluten out of you.

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