This Tuesday’s Ten Minute Tip will be in written form rather than audio. Usually when I record my tips, I’m home alone, but because it’s a holiday, I have my son and husband here, and I feel a little foolish recording in front of them. Silly, I know, but true.
This Tuesday’s tip is about always having a meal ready to prepare, regardless of what else is going on in your life. My family has been operating in crisis mode for a couple of weeks now while my youngest daughter is hospitalized. Most of our time is spent with her, but when we get home, all we want is some rest and a good meal. Since I make a practice of keeping a few staples in our pantry, I’ve been able to put a good meal on the table without much fuss.
Before I give you my tips, though, I have to share a story with you about the way it used to be. I can laugh at it now, but at the time, it wasn’t so funny. When my children were younger, I was a stay at home mom. At some point, though, I needed to go back to work, so I got a full time job.
Managing a house, kids, a full time job, and my ADD was more than I could handle, and that point was brought home to me at Christmas time. We always spent Christmas eve at my brother-in-laws house, and then they came to our house for Christmas dinner.
On this particular Christmas eve, as we were saying our goodbyes and heading out the door, my sister-in-law asked what time to be at our house the following day. That was when I realized that I hadn’t been to the grocery store in over a week. I had 10 people for Christmas dinner, and not even milk or eggs in the house, much less a pantry meal. I had to call my sister-in-law and have her bring over leftovers so that we could eat.
Now my pantry meals wouldn’t get you out of a Christmas day dinner disaster, but for a regular weeknight, they’re pretty handy.
Here’s how it works: come up with a few ideas for meals that can be made using things you can keep in the pantry, and then make sure to always have them on hand. If you always keep a few key ingredients in the freezer, too, you can expand this idea even more.
Tuna macaroni salad is a good example, or tuna casserole. Spaghetti is another good one, minus the meat. I always “doctor” my canned sauce with a little garlic, onion, olive oil, and herbs. Add some garlic bread from the freezer and no one will feel deprived.
For more ideas about pantry meals, check out Rachael Ray’s site and her magazine.