I’ve always been able to make a dinner out of seemingly disparate ingredients. You know those nights. It’s been one too many days since your last trip to the grocery store or you got home just a little too late to really think dinner all the way through but you don’t have an emergency box of gluten-free macaroni and cheese on the shelf and you can’t bear the thought of takeout.
It’s all about keeping some building blocks in the pantry that can be combined or added to a dish to round out a meal.
I know canned beans are not as good as soaked and cooked beans, but really, I am willing to lose a little bit of texture for the time savings benefit of beans from a can. You can use them in soups and chilli. Bean salad happens to be one of my specialties for weekday lunches. I always have black and garbanzos in the pantry and depending on the season (or what’s on sale) I might add pinto or cannellini beans to my inventory.
A can or box of diced tomatoes might be one of the handiest ingredients I keep on hand. These can easily be turned into pasta sauce or added to a Tikka Masala. They can be part of a soup or added to rice in place of some of the water. They are a great way to bulk up a veggie soup without having to do any additional chopping and slicing.
Stock adds flavor not only to soups but to grains such as rice, quinoa, millet and sorghum. It can be used to deglaze a pan when you are sautéing or added to boneless skinless chicken breasts when you bake them. I buy it in boxes rather than cans so that it can be resealed and stored – and if I can find it, some brands make smaller packages that just have one cup of stock which is great when you aren’t feeding a whole family.
I don’t use coconut milk as often as the other items on the list, but I like to keep a can or two on hand for curries, smoothies and for whipping up a little dairy-free whipped cream when I am in need of a dessert.