Saying goodbye to easy-breezy summer days means saying hello to packed fall schedules—when school, work, and sport commitments take priority over creative menu planning. After all, those last minute trips to the grocery store to grab Hungarian spice or brine-packed green peppercorns are certainly harder to pull off this time of year. 

So what’s a busy home chef to do? 

Stock up on pantry basics. Not just pantry—but fridge and freezer too. Simple things that keep well and can be tossed together for a last-minute meal or snack. 

What are pantry staples? Thanks to Cooking Light Magazine, we found a comprehensive list of such staples, including a handful of recipes that’ll keep your kitchen hummin’—in spite of busy weeks ahead!

 

Pantry Staples

Red or white wine

Rice, white and brown

Pasta

Onions and garlic

Canned beans

Canned broth

Jarred marinara sauce

Canned tomatoes

Canned tuna

Balsamic vinegar

Olive oil

Honey

Taco Seasoning

Cooking Spray

Salt, pepper, and spices

Chocolate chips

Sugar, white and brown

 

Refrigerator Staples

Fresh herbs of choice

Bagged mixed greens

Parmesan

Salsa

Butter

Hummus

Pesto

Eggs

Dijon mustard

Carrots

Lemons (or limes)

Freezer Staples

Mixed berries

Peas

Tortillas

Bread

Bread crumbs

Piecrusts

Shrimp

Chicken breasts

Ground beef/turkey

Bacon

 

Now, let’s pull from our list of staples and cook somethin’ up!

-SHRIMP GLAZE-

  • Shrimp (1 ½ lbs., peeled and deveined)
  • Garlic cloves (2, minced)
  • Honey (2 tablespoons)
  • Lemon juice (¼ cup)
  • Dijon mustard (3 tablespoons)

Preparation: Combine all ingredients except shrimp, and stir with a whisk. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Brush one side of shrimp with glaze. Grill for one to two minutes. Turn shrimp, brush with glaze, and cook two minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Pair with steamed brown rice—which should be right there in your pantry!

-SOUTHWESTERN CHICKEN AND WHITE BEAN SOUP-

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (see next recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning (such as Old El Paso)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup green salsa
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation: Combine chicken and taco seasoning; toss well to coat. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken; sauté 2 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Add broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Place beans in a small bowl; mash until only a few whole beans remain. Add beans and salsa to pan, stirring well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thick. Serve with sour cream and cilantro, if desired. 

-SAUTEED CHICKEN BREASTS-

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and done. Serve over pasta tossed with pesto—ingredients in your pantry! 

-GLUTEN-FREE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES-

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation: Preheat oven to 375°. Place salt and egg white in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until white is frothy. Add peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips, stirring to combine.

Divide dough into 20 equal portions (about 1 tablespoon each); arrange dough 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the top of each cookie with a fork; press the top of each cookie again to form a crisscross pattern, and flatten to a 2-inch diameter. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

On a single sheet pan, divide cookies into 5 rows of 4. Pressing the cookies flat helps them bake quickly and get lovely crisp edges; otherwise they’ll be too round and undercooked.

Bon Appétit!

 

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