And lots of recipes to go along with!
Heading to the grocery store this weekend to stock up for a couple of weeks? Like many people, I’m making sure our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer are extra stocked with essentials to decrease the number of trips to the store we need to make. While we aren’t stockpiling for months and months, I just want to decrease our exposure to other people, keeping ourselves and others as safe as possible during this time of unknown.
Of course, I could have bought a bunch of pre-packaged meals for us to rely on, but it’s also important to us to keep our immune systems healthy and eat as much fresh food as possible. I was very deliberate in our grocery store list when I went yesterday, and wanted to share the things I found most important. Make sure you have these items on your list – plus I’ve provided recipes that go along with them!
Rice – so versatile and long lasting! This can be a main component of so many dishes including my Thai Chicken Peanut Rice Bowls, Crock Pot Chicken Rice Soup, and One Skillet Teriyaki Chicken and Rice. I have many more recipes with rice, however I chose these recipes to highlight because they also use many long lasting ingredients that are on this list!
Beans – dried or canned! If you have an Instant Pot, buying dried can be cheaper and they can be cooked much faster than on the stove top. Use beans like pinto beans in my Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Chili, or garbanzo beans in Falafel Bowls.
Grains – these are all a personal preference, but most grains last a very long time in the pantry. We love quinoa, farro, and wheatberries because they are so versatile and take on any flavor you introduce to them! This BBQ Chicken Quinoa Casserole is one of our favorites.
Lentils – lentils are a great source of fiber and protein and last months in your pantry. I love making my Butternut Squash and Lentil Coconut Curry, which is full of nutrients and turmeric for boosting your immune system and anti-inflammation, and other long lasting items like peppers, butternut squash, garlic, coconut milk, broth, and spices, and this Instant Pot Lentil Chili which is super easy and filling!
Potatoes – these last for weeks when stored in a cool (but not the refrigerator!), dry, dark place, and are so versatile. Use them as a main dish with Loaded Baked Potatoes, or a side dish such as my Parmesan Roasted Potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes – just like potatoes, can last quite awhile when stored properly. Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potato Burgers, and Sweet Potato Cauliflower Tacos are all great ways to eat sweet potatoes!
Onions – Slow Cooker French Onion Soup, which has very few ingredients, many of which are shelf stable, or Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, which is like french onion soup in grilled cheese form!
Winter Squash – like potatoes, can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. Try my Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole, made with other pantry items like black beans, enchilada sauce, and tortillas!
Dried Fruit and Nuts – Cranberries, figs, and mango are our favorite dried fruits and can be added to granola, trail mix, or eaten plain! We go for honey roasted peanuts, cashews, and pistachios when it comes to nuts.
Cereal, Oatmeal, Granola – all breakfast staples in our house!
Carrots – Carrots will last up to 2 weeks in your refrigerator, when stored uncut and in a bag in your vegetable drawer. Use in the healthy and comforting Carrot Leek Soup or whip up a batch of Carrot Pear Muffins.
Cabbage – Use it sauteed as a side, or as the main star like in my Cabbage Roll Soup, which has a lot of other shelf-stable items like diced tomatoes and broth, and carrots which last a long time in the refrigerator.
Yogurt – It’s best to use within 1 week after opening, however will remain safe to eat for up to 2 weeks.
Fruits with Long Shelf Lives – apples, pears, and citrus will last the longest when stored properly in the refrigerator, and pomegranates are also known to last 10-14 days stored correctly. I also stocked up on very green bananas which will hopefully last us through week 2. That said, I still bought fruit like grapes, strawberries, and blueberries because they typically last 5-7 days and then we can start eating the longer-lasting fruit for the second week.
Milk – I stocked up on both cows milk for the kids and refrigerated almond milk for myself for cereal, and then some shelf stable almond milk just in case.
Eggs – According to the USDA, eggs can last 3-5 weeks in your refrigerator. They are a great source of protein and we love them for breakfast in Migas, hard boiled for a snack.
Meat – Buy a few packages of meat that you frequently cook with and have a stock in the freezer. For us, this means chicken breasts, ground beef, and pork shoulder. You can pull out the chicken for my Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup, or make Braised Pork Ragu with the pork shoulder, both of which are made with a number of other shelf stable/long lasting vegetables!
Frozen Vegetables – I regularly buy frozen mixed veggies for the boys lunches, but bought a few extra bags to make serving vegetables to all of us easier. They can be used in soups or added to things like ramen, mac and cheese, or any kind of pasta.
Frozen Fruit – Stock up for making smoothies, baking, or just having another option for fruit like berries. Frozen raspberries work great in my Orange Raspberry Muffins.
Frozen Convenience Foods – Under times of stress not everyone wants to cook, and I get that! Stock up on frozen foods that will make your life easier. For us, this is frozen pizza, sweet potato fries, tater tots, and Frozen Mandarin Chicken (from TJ’s!)
Other Random Items We Bought – refrigerated tortellini, peanut butter, jelly, some canned fruits, mac and cheese, Spaghetti-O’s, and avocados (to freeze!)
How to Make Produce Last Longer
Asparagus and Broccoli – Treat them like fresh flowers and store them standing up in a glass with about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
Fruit – Make sure fruit is stored dry and, ideally, with enough space to “breath.” I find bananas last longer when not around other produce, and the same goes for avocados. This is because of the gases fruit releases which causes other fruits to ripen more quickly.
Herbs – Store fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and parsley like you would asparagus – in a mason jar with some water, and covered in a plastic bag. You can also chop and freeze fresh herbs to make them last even longer. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and mint work best for this.
Lettuce – Not necessarily known for keeping well, but if you store it correctly, it will definitely last longer than you think. For greens, wash with water and then dry in a salad spinner. Keep them in the refrigerator wrapped in paper towels to absorb any excess moisture, which is the culprit for lettuce going bad quickly. This also works with romaine lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard!
Okay, and that’s it! I hope you stay safe and healthy over the next couple of months! And let me know in the comments if I missed something that you bought or are buying, that you find to be super helpful.