Easy Tips to Help You Prepare Home Cooked Meals and Avoid Drive Through Windows – Part 3

Every home needs a well-stocked kitchen. This is a life saver when time gets away from you. With just a few essential ingredients on hand, I can always throw together a nutritious meal quickly. If I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store, I especially appreciate a well-stocked kitchen so I avoid picking up the phone to call take-out or heading to a drive through window.

Does this mean I never order take out or pick up fast food? Absolutely not! However, I do avoid it most of the time and the way I am able to do that is by keeping must-have staples on hand.

Here is a story for you: This past weekend, my husband and I went out of town for Memorial Day. The day we headed home, we should have made it back by 3:00 p.m. which would have given us plenty of time to stop by the grocery store and pick up items for dinner and the rest of the week. However, due to road closures and heavy holiday traffic, we didn’t pull into our driveway till 7:30 p.m. That night, I put in an emergency call for pizza delivery and we ate it gratefully. The next day, I was very busy at work and had to stay later than usual. I still wasn’t able to go to the grocery store but because I had certain kitchen items on hand, I was able to whip up a healthy dinner in less than 30 minutes rather than order in again… so thankful for my kitchen staples!

Here are the items I always keep on hand in my kitchen:

Pantry and Spice Cabinet Staples

  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce/Tamari Sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spices: oregano, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, basil, parsley and any other spices you would like on hand
  • Canned fish: tuna, sardines and salmon
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Brown rice and other grains like quinoa
  • Whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Refrigerator Staples

  • Butter
  • Milk (cow’s, nut, soy or rice)
  • Eggs
  • Salsa
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Dijon mustard
  • Chopped green peppers in an air-tight container
  • Lemons
  • Corn tortillas

Freezer Staples

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Stir fry vegetables
  • Bread
  • Shrimp

From this base set of items, I can create meals such as stir fry, rice and beans, egg dishes, tacos, and more! I have shared a lot of quick and easy meals that can be created from this list in past blog posts. Here are some new ones I hope you enjoy!

Tuna Pasta Recipe by: Randi Munns

  • 1 pound whole wheat, brown rice, or quinoa pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus juice from 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cans drained tuna
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Prepare pasta according to package. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan and add garlic. Sauté 2 -3 minutes. Add tuna and stir until just heated through. Add cooked pasta, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper to taste and red pepper flakes. Toss until coated. Serve sprinkled with extra parmesan cheese, and olive oil if pasta seems too dry. Serves 4.

Black Bean & Egg Tacos Recipe by: Randi Munns

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
  • ½ can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6 eggs – 4 – 6 corn tortillas
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped or 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Salsa

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté onions, green pepper and jalapeño until onions are translucent, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the black beans and heat through for 1 minute. Whisk eggs in a bowl and add to pan. Stir constantly and cook until scrambled. Stir in cilantro and salt and pepper to taste and set aside. To heat tortillas, heat a separate skillet on medium high heat. Warm tortillas 1 minute on each side or longer if you want them crispy. Spoon egg mixture into tortilla and top with salsa. Serves 2 – 3.

Shrimp Scampi with Broccoli Adapted recipe by: Randi Munns Original recipe by: Allrecipes.com

  • ½ cup of butter
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 pounds shrimp, fresh or frozen and thawed, shelled and deveined

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. When the butter melts completely, remove from heat. Arrange shrimp in a shallow baking dish. Pour the butter mixture over the shrimp. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque. Serve as is or over a healthy pasta or brown rice. Prepare frozen broccoli to accompany the scampi. Serves 4 – 6.

Beans and Greens over Brown Rice Recipe by: Randi Munns

  • 16 ounce package of frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ onion thinly sliced
  • 15 ounce can of pinto, red kidney or great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 2 cups precooked brown rice

Prepare spinach according to package. While spinach is cooking, heat butter in a large skillet and add onion. Sauté until onion is translucent. Stir in the cooked spinach, beans and vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until everything is heated through. Serve with or over heated brown rice. Serves 4.

What are some of your pantry staples? Do you have any throw together meals from these essential items? I would love for you to share your comments below or visit me on Facebook.

I hope you enjoyed this series: Easy Tips to Help You Prepare Home Cooked Meals and Avoid Drive Through Windows!!!

Health and blessings!


Randi's passion is to teach people the importance of getting into the kitchen to cook! When people get into the kitchen to cook, they can control their health and their waistline. She uses fresh ingredients and traditional foods in her cooking like butter.  She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils (natural solutions for your health).

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