Every Mama Bear should have an arsenal of kitchen staples in their fridge, pantry, and on their counter. These items can save the day when you need dinner in a pinch. Keeping a stockpile always gives you options that are fresh, delicious, and handy.
I’ve cataloged the go-to kitchen essentials that keep my bears well-fed, healthy, and happy. These staples truly make snacking and dining a walk in the park because they’re readily available when I need them the most.
Having fresh produce on hand makes throwing dinner together a cinch. Most dinners during the week for Liam and I include a side of tomatoes and fresh fruit. This summer has been the summer of peaches at our house. We’ve enjoyed them as is, drizzled with honey, or served over vanilla bean ice cream. On my weekly grocery store runs, fresh onions, garlic, limes, avocados, and spinach always make the cut. Spinach is ideal for my green smoothies, folded into pasta dishes, or sauted with peppers and onions for tacos.
MEATS, CHEESES, & OTHER PROTEINS
In our house, Liam equates protein with “muscle power”. There’s always a wide array of healthy protein snacks like yogurt smoothies, Babybel cheese, and turkey slices within arm’s reach. The lunch meat and cheese slices also make it easy to whip up a sandwich for a quick lunch option. I always keep Italian sausage and a garlic sausage link on hand for quick dinners like spaghetti or sausage tacos with sauted bell peppers and onions. Hummus is Sean’s go to snack and/or meal, so I always keep a few containers in the fridge. Shredded cheese of all varieties also is a quick add to pastas, tacos, and quesadillas. Atticus loves plain yogurt mixed with baby food for his protein fix.
Eggs prove time and again to be the easiest dinner option that also yields a powerful dose of protein. This week, I’ll grate the sweet potato I have on hand and saute it with garlic, onions, spinach, and mushrooms to make a great hash. Sometimes I also saute ground sausage with this dish or serve the hash with a fried egg on top. The runny yolk makes this dish a crowd pleaser. Another easy option when I have fresh avocado and tomatoes on hand is an open faced fried egg sandwich on whole wheat toast. Nom nom!
CAFFEINE & HYDRATION
Every Mama Bear I know always has a gallon of milk on hand. Liam wants it with practically every meal and snack. For my morning coffee fix, I always have cream and K-Cups on hand. H-E-B’s Decaf Houston Blend has been my favorite for the last year and half. With hints of praline, pecan, and coconut, it’s a smooth and sweet start to the day. Sean and I love Simply juices and sweet tea. I usually tone the sweetness down with equal parts of water and juice. Because hydration is key for a running and nursing mom, I find this to the most enjoyable way to get the fluids in than just drinking plain water.
Frozen pizza and edamame are two of Liam’s absolute favorite foods. At least once during the work week, it’s pizza night. The leftovers are great for lunch or serve as dinner for Liam another night of the week. The leftover edamame stores well in the fridge and reheats easily for a snack at work too. These two are weekly staples that always bring a smile to Liam’s face.
Made from scratch arroz (rice) is amazing when I have the time. In a pinch though, Tilda Mexican style chili and bean rice is a quick substitute. I saute it with a little olive oil and add frozen corn and peas and fresh cilantro.
I always have a wide array of beans on hand. The red kidney beans, for example, pair well with brown rice, garlic, onion, sausage, and spices for an easy red beans and rice dish.
I can never have too many cans of fire roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts on hand. They’re perfect for pastas, ratatouilles, or smothered over chicken breast. Salsa is a staple condiment in our house. Enchiladas, tacos, nachos, and all of my other favorite Mexican dishes are always better with a little heat.
In our active house, carbs are an important part of keeping us fueled. Brown rice, gnocchi, and pasta of any kind work well as a stand alone dish or as side. Another carb essential are tortillas. Lately I’ve been on a Mitad Mitad kick- half flour, half corn. They’re perfect for enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas, which are always fan favorites in my kitchen.
From my kitchen to yours, I hope some of these staples inspire you to create healthy, easy dishes for your family. After all, everything we cook is infinitely better when it’s made with love!