You need to keep a few things on hand to whip up dinner on those nights you work late or work in the yard all day and just can’t face the idea of takeout or a restaurant. Bear in mind that I don’t like frozen meals at all and don’t keep any in the freezer for emergencies. But I usually have the ingredients to whip up a mean grilled cheese sandwich, golden brown with butter and oozing with melted cheese, or a plate of cheesy scrambled eggs with a side of buttered toast.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will get you started:
In the pantry, you can start with a few canned goods like tomatoes, tomato paste and beans. Add dried pasta of various shapes, olive oil, rice, tuna, spices and dried herbs. I also have my pantry stocked with flour, sugar and the necessary ingredients for baking (see Stocking a Baker’s Pantry).
In the fridge you might want to keep various cheeses, chopped garlic, your favorite condiments and sauces, eggs, milk, plain yogurt, buttermilk and butter. You might also want to have apples, carrots, your favorite citrus fruit and more perishable ingredients like lettuce, celery and other produce. While they should never see the inside of a fridge, you could also keep potatoes, onions or shallots, fresh garlic, sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes on hand. Of course, you need to tailor your purchases to what you and your family like and what is in season.
If you really want to be prepared, stock your freezer with a few chicken breasts, either bone-in or boneless, frozen fish filets, a package or two of lean ground beef and some frozen veggies. Again, tailor these to what you and your family would eat.