Food is really important in our lives. Being a full time working mum, blogging in my free time, as well as being a mum of a growing, permanently hungry child, and wife to a farmer with a physical job, it means getting food on the table fast is a top priority for me. Food cupboard staples and essentials in my fridge are key tools to help me doing this. As well as my meal planning by variations method of arranging and cooking dinners.
At the moment I’m working from home, so we’ve gone from us all eating in different places 4 days a week, to me cooking 7 evenings a week and still needing to get a substantial hot meal on the table by 5pm, which is also when my working day ends. I think about food a lot (even on holiday I’ll be eating one meal but working out in my mind where we can potentially eat for tea and at what time). I think with babies and young children you need to be really organised when it comes to meal times and food in general. Especially if you work as well.
N’s always been a hungry child, from going from happy to screaming for milk as a newborn (the whole having to wait for freshly made formula to cool wasn’t an option for us), wanting milk every 2 hours. Even during weaning where he was eating well from 5 ½ months, it took until about 10 months old before he started dropping milk feeds. Now he’s well on his way through primary school, into tween years and I’m dreading the hungry teen years.
I need to have meals on the table fast. I don’t mind cooking when I have appreciating people eating it, I’ve planned a new meal and it turns out well. But everyday cooking is boring. Please tell me it’s not just me that finds it boring cooking every day!
Store cupboard staples are the way to go to make cooking life easier.
Fruit is always a handy snack and raisins, grapes and bananas were top of the list when N was a toddler. We always have a few handy snacks in his snack box for when we’re out and about, or if he wants a quick snack at home. They’re usually snack packed up for portability.
To go with berries I’ll often buy mini pancakes from bakery sections in the supermarket. They do basics ranges so can be really cheap, and one of those for a snack with some berries goes down well. They last for ages in the fridge as well, so pretty perfect on the avoiding waste front.
We usually have some breadsticks or cream crackers in the larder, so he’ll sometimes have those for a different snack with some cheese.
Store cupboard essentials for meals
For meals I know there’s certain foods I can always resort to and that I always have in the fridge or larder.
Philadelphia, cream cheese – I love the Phili cook book so if I’ve got it in the fridge we can always have a chicken, salmon or pasta dish ready quickly that all of us will eat. Plus it’s good in sandwiches or in a pastry dish as well as for cheesecake based desserts. It’s another product that lasts for ages in the fridge if it’s unopened.
Pesto – whack it in with the cream cheese on salmon, chicken, pasta or on a pastry tart base. I make a salmon en croute with ready made puff pastry and add the pesto. It’s also my favourite panini filling – with mozzarella or chicken. Really simple but tasty. Again, it lasts for ages in the fridge (and generally a lot longer than the jar says).
Ready made pastry – I never make my own pastry. Life’s too short, especially as we mostly use puff pastry. It’s great for savoury meals, but also use off cuts for jam tarts, custard tarts. I often do an open apple or fruit tart (or galette), and for using up leftover meat from a roast or beef casserole for a pie topping.
Frozen fruit mixes – I always have several packs in the freezer. I did think I’d use them for smoothies or the like, but actually they’re my go to when I need to do a quick pudding…crumble here we come (or pie, compote, ice cream topping).
Chilled tomato and basil pasta sauce. If it’s a variety without cream, it seems to last forever (well, not quite, but a long enough time, even after opening). I use it for pasta, homemade pizza topping, addition to tinned tomato based meals, salmon en croute for a topping inside the pastry, pepperoni chicken, cod, baked eggs…the list is never ending.
The easiest tip I have to making feeding the family easier, is to have enough food made to have leftovers the next day.
Are there food cupboard essentials you turn to when you’re in a hurry or need something reliable? What snacks do you always have at home?