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Beginners Cooking Tip – Stocking Your Kitchen

If you enjoy cooking, want a healthier meal or simply save a few dollars, then a well-stocked kitchen pantry is your answer. The suggested items are kitchen staples and should be a part of your regular grocery list. Make this a routine and you’ll find making a snack or preparing a meal and more convenient.

In the “frig”…

If you want to enjoy a pasta dish, fancy salad, stew or simple stir fry, the have pre-cooked chicken and meats. They can come already grilled or steamed… frequently in the “prepared foods” section of your favorite market.

You can always find pre-cut vegetables and fruits in the produce section. The pre-cut veggies, particularly cauliflower, broccoli and squash, are perfect for toss in a salad or roasting. Tip for roasting… line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and spread the veggies out… drizzle with olive… sprinkle with your favorite spice and bake for ½ hour @ 375*. The fruits are great for an easy, healthy snack or in a smoothie if you’re so inclined.

Fresh dips and salsas – found in cheese and meat sections of supermarket. They’re a great way to add flavor to raw veggies, pasta and assorted chips.

For a “last minute” fun night… prepared pizza dough. Everyone can prepare their favorite blend of toppings.

From the dairy section…

Based on the taste and health needs of the adults and children… while milk, skim or 1-2% low fat. Plain yogurt to use as is or add your favorite flavoring. Plain yogurt can also be used in salad dressings and as a heathier alternative to sour cream on potatoes and Mexican dishes.

A great way to save time when making your favorites Italian dish or a nacho snack is to put shredded cheeses on your shopping list.

Again, with the easy and quick meal in mind, eggs go on the list. Omelets, egg salad, hard boiled and part of a “chef salad”.

For the Freezer

Fresh is usually best for taste and nutrients, however frozen can be convenient stand-by. All varieties and combinations of fruits and vegetables can be found in the freezer section of your market. They can be a very convenient snack or finger food for babies, young children and adults. Frozen items such as peas and blueberries make convenient finger foods for older babies and toddlers. Frozen poultry, meats and fish can serve as the entrée for all kinds of meals.

Don’t forget the treats… ice cream… frozen yogurt… freeze pops… etc.

For the Pantry

Pasta – any shape or size, so you’re ready to make spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and soups. Consider whole wheat pasta for healthier dishes.

Beans and legumes – these include lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, and white beans. Many recipes call for the dried version but the canned ones work just as well and are far less time consuming.

Breads – including the standard loaf of white..or preferably wheat or multi grain, pita, bagels, and tortillas. Create healthy wraps, sandwiches, “mini” pizzas and more.

Rice – brown rice is the healthier option over white rice.

Dried fruits – these are great healthy snacks alone, as well as good mix-ins for yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and cottage cheese.

Breakfast cereals – dried cereals, oatmeal, wheat germ. Be careful of the usual “kid friendly” box cereals with high sugar content.

Don’t forget…

Assorted can goods, spices and novelty items (chips, cookies,”kids treats”).

My intention was not to create an all-inclusive list as tastes and dietary needs can vary greatly in families but rather some basic guidance to organize your shopping thought process.

Hope you found these suggestions helpful.

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