Winter hit the Midwest hard over the head during the past week.  Hopefully you had plenty of leftovers to eat while you were snowed in. A stocked pantry can keep you well fed if you don’t make it out for the bread, milk and eggs before a big winter storm. Essential items that don’t need refrigeration and have a long shelf life are going to be good bets. You’ll even see sections in cookbooks dedicated to pantry meals with recipes requiring only ingredients from your shelves.

Here’s a pantry checklist to brave any storm that will leave you snowed in.

  • Various stocks – Chicken stock, beef stock or vegetable stock can be used for soups and stews. You can also use them to add flavor to rice or a pan sauce.
  • Beans – Beans are a workhorse ingredient used to fill out recipes. They’re a great substitute for meat when you’re snowed in, provide protein, and contain nutrients making them a healthy choice for recipes. Pantry soups get a big boost in flavor and body from beans. If you lose power, many people even like to eat Randall Beans straight out of the jar.
  • Dried pasta – Boxes of dried pasta in various shapes can be used to add body to a soup or in a casserole. If you have left over pasta, try it in a fritatta or baked pasta dish.
  • Jarred sauces – Jarred marinara sauce is a handy ingredient. Instead of preparing the usual pasta and sauce, try stirring it into a soup or layering it with cheeses for a dip.
  • Olive Oils – Olive oil is a great flavor builder in recipes and is healthier than butter and shortening. To make oils more interesting, flavor them with dried herbs or cloves of garlic.

Being prepared with pantry staples can keep meals interesting when you’re unable to make it to the grocery store. You’ll have more time to spend with your family playing in the snow instead of scratching your head trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Pair them with baking standards like flour, sugar and spices can go a long way in creating quality meals with a short list of ingredients.