Best Essentials to Always Stock In Your Pantry

According to Mr. Chi City, keeping your refrigerator stocked will get you many women. Well according to me, keeping your pantry stocked will keep you from starving on nights when you are lazy, tired, or too darn cheap to go buy something.

If you constantly travel for work, pleasure, or are just busy, keeping your pantry stocked might just save you from eating whatever that chicken looking thing covered in mold in your fridge might be, even if you are pretty sure that it has only been there for five-ish days. Here are the recommended items you can always have available for sustenance in a flash. Many of the things listed last weeks, even months and are pretty darn easy to work with.

Essentials

Olive oil, coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter)

Unless you are cooking meat, which can cook in its own fat, you should always put at least a tablespoon of oil into the pan before cooking anything (unless a recipe or technique specifically says otherwise). Ghee is my favorite because unlike butter, it never burns.

Flour

A rue is a typical base for most sauces and is equal parts water, flour, and butter. Flour is also required for almost every baking recipe and is also integral to frying. Fun fact: flour can also be thrown on a popcorn fire (when a bag of popcorn lights up in your microwave) to extinguish it quickly without having to unplug any appliances. Keep sealed in an air tight ziplock bag.

Canned Goods

Canned Soup

What is easier than heating up a can of soup? Soup is delicious, easy, and cheap. A meal by itself, soup can also be used to add flavor to rice, grains, and meat. In an emergency scenario, also a lifesaver.

Beans

Chock full of protein, canned beans can be used to make chili, are a great addition to salads, can be served as a side dish, and can be stored in the pantry for years.

Chickpeas aka Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans can be used in salads or to make amazing hummus! Just add olive oil, tahini, lemon, paprika, and blend until smooth.

Or you can make “leblebi” a Turkish delicacy by roasting the chickpeas and covering them with seasoning. Corum, the city I lived in in Turkey is famous for leblebi and have hundreds of different flavors.

Seasonings and Sauce Ingredients

Soy Sauce

One of the most basic recipes or what I like to call an easy weeknight dinner is the stir-fry. You can literally take any vegetables and protein that you have, chop it up, and throw it all into a pan with some soy sauce for 15-20 minutes and BAM! You are done. Throw it on some rice, noodles, or just in a bowl by itself and you’ve got yourself a meal. Fun fact: soy sauce does not have to be refrigerated.

Pasta Sauce

Who doesn’t love spaghetti? Especially on a weeknight when you invite your friends over for dinner and realize you have nothing in the house to make. Boil the water, cook the pasta, add the sauce, PRESTO! Spaghetti alla Pantry for the whole group. Add some chopped onion and ground beef to the sauce and you’ve made Pasta Bolognese.

Onion and garlic

These two pantry staples are the key to every one of your meals being a success. They just make everything taste better. One of my favorite things to whip up is an omelet. I chop up an onion and throw it in a pan with some olive oil. I cook it until it is soft and translucent and I add in some sliced mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, basically whatever I have available, throw in some eggs, and boom, I’ve got myself an omelet. You know what goes well with omelets?

Hot Sauce

Everything tastes better with hot sauce. My favorite is the chili garlic sauce that they sell in Asian markets. Sriracha, Tapatillo, and Chalula are some of my other favorites. Put hot sauce on your stir-fry and omelets to make them an unforgettable experience for guests. Just make sure you have water on hand in case they can’t take the heat.

But you know what they say: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.

Fillers and Fibers

Grains

Whether you eat carbs or not, it is always a good idea to have some emergency grains and legumes in your house. Your options are limitless: white rice, brown rice, farrow, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, bread, noodles, etc. These pantry staples are great for nights when you don’t have a plan, but don’t want to spend $12 on gross “cheap” Mexican food. Grains and legumes fill you up and soak up the yummy sauce from your stir-fry, win-win. If your bored with Italian style pasta, hit up your local Asian market and grab some authentic Asian noodles for a changeup.

Proteins

Canned meat or fish

A can of tuna has come to my rescue more than once. I’m sure you’ve been there. You get home after a long day of work and you are starving. You don’t want to cook, you want as little cleanup as possible and you want to eat something more than a piece of toast. Tuna is great because all you have to do is open the can, pour it into a bowl, add some mayonnaise and some onion if you are feeling fancy, and throw it in between two pieces of bread. Hell, I’ve been known to eat it with a fork, straight out of the bowl.

Nut Butters

The ingredient that can be added to anything! While some people elect to keep their nut butters in the fridge, there are a few brands that have no added sugar that you can leave in the pantry after opening. Nut butters can be cooked into sauce (peanut sauce), added to smoothies, or even eaten by the spoonful. Personally, I enjoy crunchy peanut butter mixed into my plain greek yogurt.

 

Last Minute Meal From Only Your Pantry

One of my favorite dishes to eat in Turkey was “Etli Nohut” or Meat and Chickpea Stew. This is a very easy recipe to make that tastes delicious. And, you can make the whole thing from items in your pantry! Although the traditional recipe calls for meat, I prefer to make it without. You can also make it vegetarian by swapping out the beef or chicken broth for veggie broth or water. This dish serves 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 dried red pepper/green pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Instructions:

  • In a medium pot, sauté chopped onion in olive oil over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until translucent.
  • Then add in the peppers and tomato paste.
  • Stir. Add one cup of beef or chicken broth and the salt.
  • Simmer for five minutes.
  • Then add the chickpeas and simmer for 10 more minutes over a low heat.
  • Serve with rice.

Kuzu-Etli-Nohut-Tarifi

Photo Credit: resimlitarifleri.com

Taking Your Life Back: Living Your Dreams and Not Your 9-5

Do you ever feel like your life revolves around your full-time job? You wake up, get dressed, go to work, go home, go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again. Every minute of your waking life either sucks because you hate your job, sucks because you are wishing you were somewhere else, or sucks because even after 3 years in the “working world” you are still getting paid in experience. #broke.

i don't have a future 2 broke girls gif

Breaking the cycle is not an easy thing to do. Sometimes even getting my ass to the gym is tough because I would rather sleep, cook dinner, or watch mindless TV until I forget that I’m wasting my life waiting for the future.

“Waiting” is the operative term here

A lot of the time we tend to think about the future and how we will be rich, successful, and well traveled. But, that doesn’t just happen and sitting around doing nothing. “Waiting” for success isn’t going to propel you there.

The only way to get there is to make it happen yourself (unless you have rich parents, a famous friend, or you marry Prince Harry, who in fact is currently taken #nogo).

Take it from someone who knows, it’s hard to have high expectations for life and then see them crumble down around you when you realize that working a full-time job for a year means nothing to anyone, but you and another year just begins as soon as the first one ends. No one cares that you worked for a year because life is long and you will probably have to work for the next 40 years of your life.
high school graduate high school senior gifStop sitting around waiting for life to happen to you and make life happen for yourself. Don’t let your 40-hour or more work week define you. Take your life back! Do something that you care about that will make you happy. Here are some suggestions:

Start a business

You don’t have to invest a lot of money into your new business. It just takes an idea and a few hours of research. If following your dreams means becoming an entrepreneur, then do it! Its easier now than ever to start a business and there are tons of resources online. Get a group of your friends together to be on your team. Some people want to change their life, but don’t have big ideas of becoming an entrepreneur. Use their skills to your advantage and give them important tasks for your business. Starting a blog and/or website is easy to. Follow some awesome tutorials and you can have your own site for free in 30 minutes or less!

Volunteer

Maybe it’s messed up, but people always feel better when they see someone in a worse situation than themselves. Yes, you can sit on your butt and cry about how your boss doesn’t respect you, your mom likes your brother more, and how you will be single and broke forever.

Then, when you are done drinking and crying, which we all know can take hours and multiple glasses of wine, get up, move on, and help someone else. There are people out there who don’t have homes, health insurance, the ability to walk, move, or speak and there are many children all over the world, even in your backyard, starving everyday because they don’t have enough money or resources to get food. Help them and help yourself be less self absorbed. You might even make a few friends or meet a hottie at a volunteer activity. Studies show that people who are interested in the same things are more likely to stay together longer.

Broad City comedy central

Get on indeed.com, craigslist, whatever floats your boat and find a new job, a supplemental job, or even a couple side gigs.

Making some extra cash never hurt anyone and you can even meet new people and make connections while doing it. I’ve also learned that figuring out what you don’t want to do helps you narrow down the options for what you do want to do.

Remember, you are the driving force of your own life. If you sit around and do nothing, chances are that nothing will happen. Take a leap! Start a project, and begin loving your life. Each moment counts and we are only allotted so many.

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