Getting dinner on the table on weeknights is a race against the clock. Trying to corral the kids to do their homework, not letting the pasta water boil over, and feeding the dog feels like conducting a symphony orchestra sometimes. But there are ways you can help yourself when things feel frantic, starting with a kitchen that is stocked with pantry staples ready for quick family meals.
Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up these 10 pantry staples, and we promise it will make meal planning and dinnertime decisions much easier. You can whip up easy and fast weeknight recipes without thinking twice if you have these pantry essentials in your back pocket.
If you really have no time, pasta with butter is always a kid-friendly favorite, but you can bulk it up with shredded chicken and vegetables (like canned or frozen corn and peas — and we have more ideas for those below!) or toss any shape of pasta with a quality jarred sauce. Smaller pasta like orzo can be turned into a simple soup, and you can also go the extra mile and make a quick homemade Alfredo Sauce in only 20 minutes. Another fun meal-planning idea? Turn a KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese dinner into a heartier meal like this hearty Taco Bake Casserole and become mom of the year.
In addition to the most basic pasta and sauce or quick spaghetti and meatballs, jarred CLASSICO tomato sauce can be used to poach eggs for breakfast-for-dinner shakshuka. You can also do shortcut chicken parmesan with frozen chicken patties in a pinch, or make a one-pot pasta with ground beef and mushrooms.
We know the freezer isn’t technically your pantry, but some vegetables are better purchased frozen, like peas and broccoli. Others, like corn or green beans, are totally fine in the can. Sneak vegetables into pasta (like broccoli into a box of KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese), or use them in a chicken pot pie.
There are so many kinds of rice and other grains to experiment with and keep on rotation. Try Colorful Quinoa Salad, or use rice for a Foil-Packet Southwest Chicken Dinner. They can easily be used in a main dish like Stuffed Bell Peppers or as a side for roast pork chops.
In most recipes that call for breadcrumbs, you can try using STOVE TOP Stuffing as a flavorful shortcut. Country Hamburger Steak comes together in just 35 minutes, STOVE TOP Easy Chicken Bake will become your new go-to meal, and you can even use it in Slow-Cooker Saucy Meatballs.
Need extra protein in a pinch? Beans to the rescue! We love to use them for weeknight 3-Bean Chili, Fiesta Chili Mac, or Cornbread Casserole with Cheese. Garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) are even more versatile, equally great for making Falafel Sandwiches as Italian Sub Pasta Salad.
You can use a jar of TACO BELL® Salsa for impromptu taco nights and afterschool snacks with a bag of chips, but don’t be afraid to get a little more creative with it. Try a Layered Enchilada Bake, Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken, or a Southwest Salad using your next jar!
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