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Pantry Essentials- 17 Items to Stock Your Pantry +2 Easy Recipes.

For many people, September means back to school and the unofficial start of a ‘new’ year.  We love any opportunity to clean out the pantry and reorganize the kitchen, and there’s no better time than now to try some new, delicious and (really) easy recipes using some of our favorite pantry staples.

Here’s our essential pantry item list, in fact, bring this article with you the next time you go to the market! These fundamentals will make the 6’oclock dinnertime dilemma, obsolete.  Shop for the fresh fruits, veggies and proteins and add them to your pantry staples, and you’ll have everyone longing for a yummy dinner.


  • Panko- think quick crispy chicken or fish, or top zucchini for a little added crunch.
  • Chicken stock- a healthy way to season vegetables, rice, and the perfect base for homemade soup.
  • Canned beans- garbanzo, black and red- add to salads, make burritos and always chili.
  • Couscous- the perfect 5 minute dinner or side.  The add-ins are endless- sautéed onions, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, even raisins.
  • Potatoes- baked potato bar with all the fixin’s- instant happy!
  • Petite diced tomatoes
  • Good jarred sauce- it’s ok, sometimes there’s just not time to make your own…


  • Frozen brown rice- instant side dish, quick stir fry, great for a healthy breakfast too!
  • Frozen peas, shelled edamame and chopped spinach- they have the same nutrients at the “freshies,” and makes an instant meal!
  • Shredded cheese- cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere.  Shredded cheese freezes beautifully for up to 6 months.
  • Cheese tortellini- for our BLT soup (see recipe)
  • Peeled, clean and deveined raw shrimp- defrosts in 2 minutes, dinner in 10, what’s not to love?!


  • Parmesan cheese- shave over a salad, or grate into soup for a big hit of flavor.
  • Dijon mustard- vinaigrette for salad, one-step seasoning for chicken, lamb and beef.
  • Lemons- perfect for salads, veggies and fish.
  • Diced prosciutto- sauté and add to eggs, soup, pizza and veggies.
  • Prepared pizza dough – everyone loves pizza.

Pantry Essentials

BLT Soup- A fun take on the sandwich classic.

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 8 oz. diced prosciutto
  • 8 oz. petite diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz. chicken stock
  • 12 oz. frozen chopped spinach
  • 8 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
  • ¼ C. grated Parmesan

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick soup pot on medium high heat.  When oil sizzles, add diced prosciutto and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, frozen spinach and tortellini and stir until combined.  When tortellini rise to the surface, the soup is ready, this will take about 1-2 minutes.  Ladle soup into bowls, and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

Hearty Couscous- Make as an entrée or a satisfying side dish!

Serve with shrimp, chicken or sausage for a delicious dinner!

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ C. each-finely diced carrot, onion and celery- most stores now carry these pre-diced.
  • ½ C. cherry tomatoes, sliced  in half
  • 1 C. halved and thinly sliced zucchini
  • Salt and pepper-to taste
  • Equal parts couscous and chicken stock
  • 1 C. garbanzo beans
  • ¼ C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional- ¼ C. each-chopped scallions, toasted pine nuts, golden raisins

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick pot over medium high heat.  Add diced vegetables and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and add couscous and chicken stock.  Stir to combine, remove from heat and add garbanzo beans.  Cover and set aside for 5 minutes until liquid has evaporated.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and optional add-ins before serving.