Pantry Cooking Doesn’t Need to Be Boring

Man looks bored with his dinner

“We have food at home” is the most boring sentence on the planet. It’s so lame that it’s the subject of a viral meme. It is the response of the health-conscious, budget-conscious parent to the child who wants fast food. And, let’s be honest: it’s the inner adult voice that keeps us on track with health and budget goals when we’d rather take a break from cooking. I don’t know about you, but under the current guidelines to go food shopping no more than once a week, telling myself “we have food at home” is hard. It’s exhausting. One thing cooking from the pantry doesn’t need to be, however, is boring.

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Scraps & Stock

Chicken stock cooking in a pot

Stock is one of my favorite things to make. For one thing, you take something that was destined for either the trash or the compost and you get more food out of it before you toss it. For another, you save money. For a third, you reduce your trash from cartons or bouillon wrappers. And finally, you can control the final product for both flavor and nutrition. If you have the freezer space, I highly recommend it.

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The Best Packed Lunch

Ginger Quinoa Salad

Whether you’re “packing a lunch” as you work from home, feeding kids at home, or are part of the essential workforce (thank you!) that needs to eat lunch outside of your home, many of us are needing to rely less on restaurants and cafeterias and more on home cooking for an extra meal each day. What’s a better go-to option?

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Flat, Cheap, and Easy Breads

Tortillas

Flatbreads are almost universally yummier when they’re fresh. Shaping them tends to take a little extra effort because you’re shaping individual portions (which helps with the speed of cooking). Shaping is also an excellent task to give to young cooks, and you can learn a ton about bread texture from the exercise. Here are a few more familiar flatbreads for you to play with.

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Quickbreads to Reduce Food Waste

Banana Bread

Banana bread has been having a moment in the sun. Bananas do not have a long shelf-life for fresh storage, but most home cooks are well aware that the browner the banana, the sweeter the banana bread. If you stocked up on bananas because they were available and couldn’t eat them before they went a bit soft, banana bread is a natural choice. It is not, however, your only option for dealing with aging bananas. Also, bananas are not the only food that quickbreads are good at using up.

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The Sourdough Sometimes Rises

Preparing pizza dough in kitchen

I am starting to lose track of the number of people who have come to me for help troubleshooting their preliminary adventures into the world of sourdough. This is not because I am an expert on sourdough, but because I am one of the few people in my social circle that has been wrestling with the challenge of producing good sourdough as an infrequent home baker for more than a decade now. Which is to say, I’ve turned out enough leaden lumps to have learned some lessons along the way.

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