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10 Essentials to Keep in Your Pantry for Quick Family Meals

10 Essentials to Keep in Your Pantry for Quick Family Meals

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 essentials ready for quick family meals.

Next time you go to the grocery store, pick up these 10 kitchen pantry essentials, 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.

1. Dried Pasta

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 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 chef of the year.

2. Jarred Tomato Sauce

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 make shortcut chicken parmesan or make a one-pot pasta with ground beef and mushrooms.

3. Canned Beans

Need extra protein in a pinch? Canned beans to the rescue! We love to use them for weeknight 3-Bean Chili, Chuckwagon Chili Mac or Cheesy Cornbread Casserole. Garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) are versatile and equally great for making Falafel Sandwiches or Italian Sub Pasta Salad.

4. Canned or Frozen Vegetables

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.

5. Rice or Other Grains

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. Grains can be used in a main dish like Stuffed Bell Peppers and cooking rice is an easy and versatile option to add to a range of meals.

6. Lite Soy Sauce

Learn to make some of your favorite Asian cuisine at home! Chicken Lo Mein, Saucy Pepper Steak and Shrimp-Fried Rice are three of our go-to recipes.

7. Bread Crumbs

While bread crumbs aren't a meal in themselves, they're a pantry essential useful in a wide variety of dishes. With bread crumbs on hand, you can make parmesan chicken cutlets or Crispy Fried Fish quickly. They are also essential for meatballs, meatloaf, or topping any number of your favorite casseroles.

8. Jarred Salsa

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 this pantry essential. Try a Layered Enchilada Bake, Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken or a Southwest Salad using your next jar!

9. Boxed Stuffing

In most recipes that call for bread crumbs, 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.

10. Italian Dressing

The easiest marinade in the world is a bottle of KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing. Use it for a fast One-Pan Chicken and Potato Bake, Weeknight Fajitas or Quinoa Paella!

Now that you have this list of 10 pantry essentials to keep at home for quick and easy family meals, visit the grocery store to stock up. All of these kitchen pantry essentials will last you a long while.

TACO BELL® and Logo are trademarks owned and licensed by Taco Bell Corp.

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