Now is as good a time as any to get organised in your kitchen. Having a well-stocked pantry with essentials like tinned, meal solutions and non-perishable food makes cooking a lot easier when you return home from a busy day.
Herbs, spices, and canned food from your pantry can take a meal to a new destination. Give your chicken breasts a Moroccan spin by adding a can of chickpeas to the broth or spice up your beef with a Mediterranean flair using Italian herbs.
This is why it is always a good idea to stay prepared by stocking up on foods and ingredients that pack a nutritional punch as well as flavour. To help you along, we’ve put together a list of basic nutrient-dense, long-lasting foods to add to your shopping list. Read on for more!
Pantry Staples that Make Perfect Sense
These items will go a long way, won’t leave you out of pocket, and have a long shelf-life, so it makes perfect sense to stock up on the following pantry staples.
Anyone who’s ever strayed into the wild rice and quinoa arena knows just how satisfying and versatile wholegrains (especially ancient grains) can be. Quick cooking and packed with protein, grains like quinoa make an excellent base for salads and healthy ‘Buddha’ bowls. Other versatile and nutritious grains you could try include farro, millet, barley, bulgur and brown rice.
Top Tip: To get creative with wholegrains try this delicious recipe: Tuna Quinoa Fish Cakes. Tuna is a lean protein ideal for a satisfying lunch!
Beef, vegetable, and chicken stocks are essential pantry staples. Stocks are great when used as a base for hearty soups and stews. Stock also adds a wonderful punch of flavour to cooked grains or rice. For a delightful winter meal try this Lentil, Pancetta and Spinach Soup made with a Knorr vegetable stock pot.
Oats are a great nutritious, tummy-filling breakfast option. Enjoy your oats topped with a spoonful of nut butter and diced fruit for a delicious low-GI, breakfast treat. Although oats are typically eaten as porridge, they can also be used in a variety of baked goods, such as cakes, cookies, and bread.
• Dried Fruit
Dried fruit may not contain the moisture that fresh fruit does but they do provide plenty of nutrients! Dried fruit pairs well with porridge or with plain yoghurt, but it is also delicious in certain stews and especially with lamb. For proof of this try our Spicy Lamb and Apricot Sosaties recipe at your next braai and impress your friends with this creative use of dried fruits.
Perishables that Last Longer than Others
While cooped up indoors, make sure not to deprive yourself of fresh produce. To do this, it might be worth noting which perishable items last longer than others.
• Oranges and Lemons
Citrus fruit is a must-have on everybody’s grocery lists. Because citrus is so rich in Vitamin C, oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can play an essential role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Citrus fruit lasts well in a fruit bowl or basket and will keep even longer if refrigerated. For an incredible salad that blends the zesty flavour of orange with the subtle taste of salmon try this recipe: BBQ Salmon with Orange and Quinoa Salad.
• Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
These all-stars of versatility can last about two weeks when stored at room temperature. If your potatoes start to sprout, plant them in a big pot and in a few months, you’ll have your own home-grown baby spuds!
• Red Cabbage
Affordable and loaded with goodness, red cabbage can last about a week when refrigerated. Enjoy yours in wraps, salads, or braised. If you want to celebrate red cabbage there is no better recipe than this one: Red-Cabbage Steaks with Creamy Cheese Sauce - you’re welcome!
When refrigerated and stowed in their cartons, eggs can last for at least 3-5 weeks.
Unpeeled carrots can last as long as two weeks when stored in your fridge. Use carrots in nourishing soups and stews, and to add to fresh, crunchy coleslaw.
If you plan on baking, you’ll need to grab this essential ingredient. And, by the way, butter can last as long as two months in the fridge.
Top Tip: Did you know you can freeze butter and defrost it when you need it? There’s a life hack for you right there!
Essential Canned Goods
Canned foods are great to have on hand just in case you have to stay indoors for longer than expected. Ensuring you always have tinned veggies, fruits, pulses, and proteins in the cupboard is a great way to make sure that you're still able to consume essential vitamins and minerals and maintain a balanced diet.
Additionally, tinned food adds great taste to dishes! A can of tomato and onions provides a delicious flavour to a bolognaise or a beef stew. A tin of mushroom soup can become a creamy sauce for a chicken schnitzel. And a can of kidney beans is perfect for a vegetarian taco.
Canned veggies like beetroot, corn, carrots, peas, and green beans are great additions to a variety of meals.
Top Tip: The key when buying tinned vegetables is to look for low-sodium options.
Look for canned fruit with no added sugar (or low in sugar). Go for a variety – try pears, peaches, pineapples, apples, and apricots.
• Beans, Lentils and Chickpeas
Pulses are an excellent source of plant-based protein and essential tummy fillers. They’re also delicious in soups, stews, curries and wraps. For a warm chickpea recipe that might just become a firm favourite in your home try this Spicy Chickpea Chana Masala.
Tinned tuna, anchovies, pilchards and sardines are excellent sources of high-quality protein and Omega-3 fatty acids. Canned fish can be enjoyed in pasta sauces and bakes, or in sandwiches for lunch.
Now that you’re armed with all your long-lasting essentials, make sure you keep this list handy the next time you head to the store. The truth is that a more organised pantry with the right pantry staples, tinned foods and non-perishables makes for a better home cook and in turn, more delicious meals!
Looking for more naturally tasty, Knorr recipes to try at home? We’ve got a few you’ll love: