Kitchen staples: how to make dinner in a pinch

We’ve all been there: dinner time arrives, you hesitantly look into the fridge and pantry to see what’s available, and realize in your exhausted state there is nothing to pull together in less than 30 minutes.


If you find yourself repeating this scenario again and again, then you may want to experiment with creating a kitchen staples list. Such a list can help you identify items to always have on hand in order to make a meal in a pinch. The goal is to check the status of your staples prior to any grocery store trips, so you can always keep them stocked.

The key to making this work? Getting comfortable with a little creativity in the kitchen. And the fact that all your meals don’t have to be gourmet or come from a recipe book.

The Example

Last week I found my own dinner options looking slim. A quick search of my kitchen found these recently purchased foods (asparagus and ground beef) and these staples:

Canned, diced tomatoes
Sliced black olives
Whole wheat linguine



So when life hands you lemons….you make pasta with meat sauce and roasted vegetables.




Did I wish I had a bit more tomatoes or sauce in the dish? Sure! But it doesn’t have to mean the meal is a wash.  So if you feel like it’s either a picture-perfect meal or else crackers and cheese, rest assured – a healthy meal lies somewhere in between.

Everyone’s kitchen staples may differ slightly, but here is an example of a kitchen staples list and how they could be used to make quick meals.




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