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Simply Healthy Dinner Recipes Are A Breeze With A Well-stocked Pantry

By Expert Author: Jeric James

With today's hectic urban lifestyle, working professionals often resort to fast food after a busy day at the office. It's convenient but also unhealthy. Fixing dinner shouldn't have to be a chore. Even if you're no culinary whiz, simple healthy dinner recipes are possible if you have a well-stocked pantry. The idea is to avoid the need to go grocery shopping every time you cook, because it cuts through the food preparation time.

Knowing what to keep on hand makes it easy for me to cook a delicious, nutritious meal every night of the week that doesn't involve burgers, fries, pizza or anything deep-fried. The benefits of cooking my own meal over opting for take-out are fairly obvious – I control the amount of salt, fat, sugar that goes into everything as prepackaged food items contain preservatives and additives that have no business in my food or my body. Eating real food goes a long way in improving my mealtime habits.

Still confused on what to pick at the grocery? Allow me simplify things by sharing food items that could be staples in your home. Adjust it according to your family’s lifestyle and eating habits and you’ll be whipping up a meal in a snap.

Flours – unbleached white, wheat, rice, cake, almond
Sugars – brown, cane or beet, powdered, turbinado or demerara
Dry Pastas – a few different shapes and sizes
Grains – couscous, rice, barley, quinoa, oats, flax, cornmeal
Oils – olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil
Vegetables – onions, potatoes, garlic
Canned/Jarred Tomatoes – sauce, diced, stewed, paste
Spreads – peanut, almond & hazelnut butters, jam, jelly
Natural Sweeteners – honey, maple syrup, agave
Vinegars – balsamic, white, red wine, apple cider, rice wine
Specialty Sauces – hot sauce, Tabasco, oyster sauce, mirin, rice wine, soy sauce
Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, coconut
Dried Fruit – raisins, apricots, dates, cherries, cranberries
Dried or Canned Beans- black, navy, pinto, kidney
Canned fish/seafood - tuna, salmon, clams, sardines, anchovies
Specialty Items – artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives
Herbs and Spices – oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, cumin, peppers and many more
Salts – kosher, sea salt, pickling salt, rock salt
Baking Ingredients – baking powder, baking soda, yeast, cream of tartar, chocolate
Extracts – vanilla, almond, lemon, peppermint
Beverages – coffee, tea, cocoa

You don’t have to buy everything at once. The trick here is to consider the food items you eat regularly. Make a list of the foods you eat at least once a week because chances are you will need the same items when you replenish your stock. Build up your pantry gradually. Remember to also clean out your pantry occasionally and dispose of anything past its expiration period. A well-stocked pantry makes grocery shopping easier because you only need to buy perishable items (meat, vegetables and other fresh ingredients) and not every herb, sauce or condiment needed for a particular recipe you have in mind for dinner.

I cook from time to time so I'm pretty much familiar with the stuff I have in my kitchen. Mom says I make the best buffalo wing sauce while my raspberry vinaigrette dressing recipe is fast becoming a favorite at family gatherings. I've recently experimented with marinades using what I have in my pantry and I'm close to perfecting what I consider to be the best marinade for chicken. Now who says cooking is boring, huh?

I credit my love for the culinary arts in keeping me healthy all these years. I am now conscious of what I eat and even more with the food preparation. To eat healthy, I made healthy choices in what I eat all the time – meals and snacks. Eating a healthy, balanced diet provides me the necessary nutrients I need. These nutrients give me energy and keep my heart beating, my brain active, and my muscles working. And it’s all thanks to my well-stocked pantry.

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