You’ve been there: it’s dinner time and you have no idea what you’re going to make. Maybe your meal plan didn’t work out, you forgot to pick up crucial ingredients at the grocery store, or you didn’t plan a dang thing for dinner….and now you’ve got a hungry mob staring at you.
It happens to the best of us. BUT, there are a handful of groceries you should always have in your kitchen to make last-minute meals no big deal. Plus, it helps keep grocery costs down by allowing you to shop in your kitchen every couple of weeks. If you’re drawing a blank on what to do with them, I’ve linked some of the foods to different Pinterest boards with quick and easy recipe ideas. While you’re there, please take a minute to follow me and stay up-to-date on my latest Pins.
11 Foods to Always Keep in Your Kitchen
Bag of frozen chicken thighs/breasts
Whether you prefer breasts or thighs, always keep a bag of frozen chicken in your freezer. Even if you don’t have time to defrost it, there are lots of ways you can easily cook frozen chicken. It comes in SO handy when you’re trying to put together a last minute meal.
Microwavable steamable veggies
Need a side to go with that chicken? Keep a few bags of microwavable, steamable veggies on hands for easy side dishes. They’re only $1-$2 and take just minutes to prepare.
You never know what you’ll need cheese for. In our house, it evvvvverything (We’re clearly not a Paleo family.) Pizzas, baked potatoes, casseroles, burritos, tacos…a little cheese goes a long way.
As long as you have eggs, you’ll never have to ask yourself “What are we going to do for breakfast?” Plus, boiled eggs make great snacks.
You can buy a 5-10 pound bag of potatoes for next to nothing, and it seems like they last forever. Potatoes make great side dishes (I’m looking at you mashed and baked potatoes!), but you can also bust out a couple of major courses with them as well. Stuffed baked potatoes and breakfast hash make delicious meals, and they’re also a great way to use leftover meat.
This one seems kind of random since onions don’t seem like a food you’d need in a pinch. But they’re a great way to add flavor to something you’re trying to whip up at the last minute. Oven roasted, grilled, or sauteed onions are a great addition to burgers, tacos, or even pizza.
Alwwwways keep a couple of boxes of pasta in your pantry. Any kind will do, but I like to make sure I always have at least 1 box of spaghetti (which usually lasts us 2 meals). There are so many meals you can make with pasta as the main ingredient! Throw some of that frozen chicken in the mix, and you’re sure to whip up something tasty!
As long as your have these in your pantry, you can make any recipe that calls for chicken or beef broth in a pinch.
Crushed tomatoes/Tomato paste
Since we’re talking about pasta, you can easily make your own spaghetti sauce using a can of crushed tomatoes or even tomato paste. Add a few herbs and spices, and it’s just as good as anything you’d buy in a jar. You can also doctor it up for a pizza sauce, or any other red sauce that a recipe requires.
I put these two together because they just….go together. Seriously, if you keep a bag of beans and rice on hand, you’ll never go hungry. The possibilities for meals are literally endless. Check out this tip for eating last-minute rice even easier!
Always have tortillas in your house: corn, flour, whatever. Corn tortillas have a shelf life longer than Twinkies (don’t quote me on that), and you can freeze flour tortillas until you’re ready to use them. With tortillas, you can make breakfast tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more….even using the ingredients that were previously mentioned. When in doubt, throw it in a tortilla.