As the chief chef here at Cozy and Sage (as well beauty editor, editorialist, and custodian), I have come to appreciate the security of knowing I can toss a nutritious and satisfying meal together quickly and easily with what I have around the house (ahem: office).
I try never to run low on these items:
1. Canned Black Beans
While any kind of canned bean would be a good choice here, I find black beans to be most tasty and versatile (although I do love kidney beans, as well). Beans are high in fiber and protein, and can pair well with both carbohydrates and vegetables. The canned versions are also marvelously easy to use, though if you want to be super budget conscious and have the time, soaking, cooking, and freezing dried beans can be an economical meal prep solution.
2. Canned Diced Tomatoes
There may be nothing more multifaceted in my cupboard than canned diced tomatoes. Unassuming and delicious, they lend themselves to all kinds of recipes, such as pasta sauces, soups, various Mexican-inspired dishes, and even as an additive to a slow cook pot roast. They also come in many varieties now; I prefer the fire roasted for most dishes, but I also like having an unseasoned variety on hand for pasta especially.
3. Dried Spaghetti (high fiber)
It’s hard to beat a traditional spaghetti meal for ease and satiety. I always get the Barilla white fiber version, as it contains some extra fiber but doesn’t alter the taste too much. Almost any kind of sauce (homemade or canned) will do. Paired with some garlic bread and a salad, this great meal comes together quickly and beautifully.
We love Mexican food here at the home (office?) of Cozy and Sage—so much so we have to actively make sure we are always stocked with salsa. Offered with chips as an afternoon snack or poured over eggs for breakfast, salsa is one of those items improving almost any dish. (If in a real pinch, it can even substitute for canned diced tomatoes—see above—in many cases.)
5. Bouillon cubes
If I were a little more motivated and had a bit more time, I would definitely attempt to make my own broth. As things currently stand, having a small stash of bouillon cubes will have to do. While this isn’t something I use all of the time, it is one of those items I sorely miss when I need it and find the box empty. For me, bouillon cubes are a must for soups and stews, and a nice thing to have for the occasional broth soup (for times when you have a cold or just want something warm and salty).
Rice is another all-arounder lending its talents to numerous types of cuisine. I love rice in all its forms: jasmine, brown, long grain . . . however I can get it. Combine with any kind of protein and a veggie, and dinner is served! When I have the time and inclination, I will sometimes cook up a large batch of rice and portion some out to be frozen for later use. This can make future meals even quicker to prepare!
7. Frozen Veggies (in Steamer Bags)
One of the greatest food-related inventions of the last century (in my humble opinion) is the steamer bag. A variety of vegetables can be taken from the freezer and popped into the microwave for a nutritious dinner addition in a matter of mere minutes. For a parent who is constantly attempting to make sure there is a vegetable involved in every dinner, these bags are a boon!
So simple and so nutritious, eggs can add an easy and satisfying protein to a meal at a moment’s notice. They are usually necessary to have on hand for various recipes, plus they can become the main dish in a pinch! Frittatas, quiches, and scrambles can make for great meals and are generally simple to prepare. They are incredible, and they are edible. Just sayin’.
9. Shredded Cheese
I usually don’t prefer to get pre-cut or pre-shredded items due to the increased cost. This is one exception I do make, however, just because it can lend itself to so many dishes in a hurry. I try to buy the largest bag I can; it lasts a long time in the refrigerator and the larger size usually proves a better value. This ingredient is useful for nachos, grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, and as a topping on a variety of meals.
While things can be a bit hectic around our home office, I am comforted by the fact I can almost always whip up a nutritious and tasty (if simple) meal with what I already have on hand. As long I stay stocked up, I have very little need to make any emergency runs to the store, which as a very busy person is something I value highly!
What are your kitchen staples?
Thanks for the read; stay cozy!