Thursday, 06 May 2010 01:11

Stocking Your Pantry for Quick Meals

PantryI have created a list of food items that I keep on hand in my pantry, refrigerator, freezer, etc.  I did this for a friend of mine about a year ago when she asked me what I eat to stay healthy.  She also asked me how I always seem to have to have the ability to have a dinner ready in a pinch – even if I didn’t just step out of the grocery store.

While these may not be staples in your house, this list can give you a good idea of what you can try to keep on hand so you can make flavorful, homemade recipes ALL the time.  The key here is to stay relatively stocked up, make things you can freeze (like the turkey chili, spaghetti sauce, and even the turkey burger patties – recipes in “Pantry Meals” article), and have plenty of variety to keep things interesting, available and yummy!

Pantry Items


Brown Rice
Whole Wheat Pasta - your choice
Low Sodium Chicken Broth
Canned Diced Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Sauce
Canned Tomato Paste
Seasoned Breadcrumbs
Reduced or Low Fat Refried Beans
Kosher Salt
Canellini Beans
Red Kidney Beans
Enchilada Sauce
Fresh Ground Pepper

Oils for cooking:

Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Sesame Oil

Condiments for cooking:

Low Sodium Soy Sauce
Hoisen Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Rice Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Cooking Spray (Pam)
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Garlic Salt
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Red Pepper Flakes

Baking Items:

Whole Wheat Flour
All Purpose Flour
White Sugar
Brown Sugar
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Table Salt
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder


Dried Mango
Tortilla Chips – Baked are better, but I get the real tortilla chips
Lightly Salted Dry Roasted Almonds
Reduced Fat Microwave Popcorn

Refrigerator Items


I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray
Butter or Spread
Almond Butter
Sugar Free or Low Sugar Strawberry Jam
Jarred Jalapeños
Jarred Roasted Red Peppers
Wheat Germ
Low Fat or Fat Free Dressing


Reduced Fat Milk
Sugar Free Coffee Creamer
Medium Cheddar Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Low Fat Yogurt


Corn Tortillas
Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
Whole Wheat Bread
Sourdough – optional
Whole Wheat Buns


Green Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers
Romaine Lettuce
Jarred Jalapeños
Green Onion
Yellow Onion


Anything Seasonal

Freezer Items


Bag of FROZEN Mixed Veggies
Bag of FROZEN Berries
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (if you get these at Costco – one breast for 2 people – pound it!)
Halibut – when on sale
Ground Turkey (portioned out in ½ pound increments)
Sirloin – trimmed of excess fat and portioned out

Friday, 12 March 2010 01:01

Using a Menu Planner

Weekly Menu Planner by Menu planners: A terrific tool to help you save time and money.

They help you remember which items to buy at the grocery store and which coupons to bring with you.  For many families, groceries are one of the largest monthly expenses.   Creating a weekly menu can help you save on your monthly budget because you are less likely to rely on last minute and more expensive options like eating out or delivery.   You are also less likely to buy on impulse once at the store.

The kind of weekly menu planner that you decide to keep can be as simple as a writing your planned meals on your grocery list, using an online menu planner that will save your grocery lists from week to week, or you can try one of our free templates [Word format - PDF format].   Remember to check back often for new templates!

Friday, 29 January 2010 01:05

Should I Keep It or Toss It?

Shredding paperThe start of the year is a great time to get rid of the paper clutter around the house.

Perhaps you want to be able to see the office floor again or simply not have piles of paper that come back week after week. When I do get around to purging paper around the home, I find myself sometimes wondering which records to keep or toss.

There are some documents that you want to permanently keep in a safe place - birth/death certificates, marriage license, deed to your house, and Wills. Documents like investment statements, bank statements and even tax returns do not need to be kept permanently. Credit card statements can be tossed once you have verified the changes. The guidelines below from Good Housekeeping can help you determine which records to keep and how long to keep them.

Once you have determined which documents to toss, remember to shred! A personal story… parents were the victims of identity theft. Resolving the incident involved countless hours dedicated to writing letters, filing reports with credit bureaus and making many many phone calls.

Unfortunately, identity theft is on the rise, affecting almost 10 million victims in 2008 (a 22% increase from 2007). It’s a situation that you do not want to find yourself in and that you can help avoid. To reduce your risk of becoming an identity theft victim make sure that you always shred all documents containing your social security, financial information, birthdates or passwords.

Yes, even those letters that come in the mail informing you you’ve been preapproved for such and such offer (especially if it’s for a credit card) should go in the shredder. Local office supply stores carry good quality paper shredders or you can bring your confidential waste paper to free shred events across the country. Click here to find a local event near you!