The Pantry Principle

Written by Pat's Papers | Tuesday, 8 March 2011 1:07 PM

If you think you’re too busy to cook a homemade meal every night, it’s time to consider the “pantry principle” says the Oregonian. Instead of dutifully copying down and then tracking down every ingredient for a recipe, try this grocery-store strategy: Buy basic building blocks, things like veggies, grains, eggs, and use them to prepare meals from what you have on hand. A can of garbanzo beans and some garlic? You’re a few minutes away from hummus. A drawer full of squash? Ratatouille couldn’t be simpler.

Here are some key ingredients to consider:

Hard-cooked eggs: Like beans, eggs are a cheap, convenient source of protein. Crumble and sprinkle on salads, crostini, roasted vegetables, or over beans.

Cooked frozen grains: Thaw and heat for a simple side dish; make fried rice; thaw and sauté cooked barley or other nutty grain in olive oil, top with a fried egg and salsa verde.

Vegetables: Kale, chard, leeks, cabbage, carrots, celery, fresh Italian parsley or other herb. These versatile winter staples keep well and can be made into simple braises and slaws or used as ingredients in soups and sautéed dishes.

Aged hard cheese: A small amount packs a big punch in pastas, soups and egg dishes.

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