As I lamented yesterday, grocery shopping is not the pleasant, aisle-to-aisle meander it once was during my pre-mother-of-two life. It’s harried, loud and generally pretty gross. (Yesterday my toddler refused to ride in the grocery cart and squirted an entire packet of applesauce onto her leggings. Lovely.) Keeping my pantry locked and loaded has cut down dramatically on grocery trips, as has having a refrigerator stocked with these imminently versatile items:
- Peeled Whole Garlic Cloves. Purchasing pre-peeled garlic cloves always seemed so lazy to me, but now that I’m looking to shave as many minutes off kitchen prep time as possible, it’s proven a pleasant efficiency. Jarred minced garlic still gives me the creeps, but I imagine it will start to sound pretty compelling if I ever decide to have more children…
- “The Art of Chipotle” Chipotle Paste. Many recipes call for canned chipotles in adobo sauce, the amount needed inevitably being a tiny fraction of the entire can. Watching the remainder of that can go bad in my refrigerator always annoys me, but I also don’t have the spare time to puree and freeze leftover chipotles, either. The jarred chipotle paste made by The Art of Chipotle eliminates both the waste and the effort, and ensures that you always have this versatile condiment on hand. In addition to using chipotle paste in soups, marinades and sauces, Priss & Vinegar recommends whisking it into ketchup to dress spiced turkey burgers or for dipping game day pigs-in-a-blanket. To note: most kids will HATE this stuff.
- Pre-Washed Organic Spinach. I will admit to occasionally neglecting salad greens and vegetables intended for side dishes in the crisper. (As mentioned above, this kind of food waste drives me bananas.) Purchasing a multi-tasker like pre-washed organic spinach dramatically increases the chances it will actually get eaten, whether as the base for a greek salad, a simple sauté with lemon and garlic, wilted into pasta or atop a breakfast crostino with my favorite soft-scrambled eggs. Kale may be trendy, but spinach is a tried-and-true classic.
- Straus Organic Plain Yogurt. A pint of plain yogurt can become a loaf of quickbread, a tandoori marinade, dip for crudités, a fruit smoothie, or a breakfast parfait. Forget flavored yogurts that are packed full of sugar and other processed crap; instead, stir chopped fresh fruit or a spoonful of good-quality jam into a bowl of plain yogurt (my favorite being Straus Organic Plain Yogurt which is sooooo rich and lovely).
- Swanton Berry Farm Strawberry Jam. Speaking of jam, once I’ve blown through my home-canned jars, I turn to Swanton Berry Farm for their unbelievably perfect strawberry jam. This is the kind of jam I aspire to when I cook my own at home. It makes a dreamy parfait with yogurt and granola as well as a PB&J (err, sunbutter) that will be the envy of every kid at the school lunch table.
- Quesadilla Fixings. Quesadillas are literally the least offensive food on the planet, which is why I make them on the regular for my own finicky little eater. Good basics like organic pre-grated monterey jack cheese (block cheese is for people with free time) and pliable tortillas (Priss & Vinegar likes the La Tortilla Factory Handmade Style tortillas) can be combined for a classic ‘dilla, or supplemented with leftover proteins, whole beans, cooked vegetables, fresh spinach or jarred jalapeños to make a quick meal both kids and grown-ups can get on board with.