Pantry Essentials

We all have days when we are lacking that inspiration in regard to what meals you are going to prepare, and you just don't know where to start!

That is why having these six pantry essentials in your house is so important. Last-minute dinner ideas and thrown-together snacks for unexpected guests can come together easily when you have simple, foundational ingredients on hand. The below six are my favourites, and I use them ALL the time!

Lemons
A lemon can add flavour to almost any dish! Fresh lemon juice is fantastic for flavouring chicken or fish, while some lemon zest can add depth to marinades, salads or grains. Lemon is a source of vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system too!

Canned Items
Canned items such as tuna, tomatoes, beans and chickpeas, are easy ways to add protein, make sauces and add flavour to a dish.

Vegetable / Chicken / Beef stock
Keep portions of frozen stock, or purchase organic cartons of chicken, vegetable, and beef stock. These can be used as bases for soups, stews and curries or even simply to add subtle flavour to quinoa or rice. With the veggies and protein you have in your fridge, you can throw together a meal in no time.

Quinoa
Quinoa can be used for so many different snacks and meals. Add it to salads, use it instead of rice or pasta, make them into burger patties or make some quinoa porridge, especially in this colder weather.
As well as being super versatile, quinoa is also packed with goodness. It is gluten-free and has a great amount of protein, carbohydrates and fibre.

Oil + Vinegar
The perfect combination not only for salad dressings but also to add some tang to your meals. Be cautious though, as oils aren't always as they seem and you need to be careful with the oils you use for cooking, especially when using a high temperature. I like to use olive oil for low temp cooking and salad dressings, coconut oil for higher temp cooking and avocado oil for salad dressings.

Spices
Having a range of different spices on hand can add so much flavour to your dish without the added sugars of many store-bought sauces. By simply changing up the spices that you use, you can create a completely different dish. For example - combining cumin, cinnamon, coriander and salt is more middle eastern inspired, whereas, smoked paprika, chilli powder, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder and salt is more Mexican based. Generally, if your spices are stored well in an air-tight container they have a shelf life of up to 1 year.

With these key ingredients, you will have no trouble putting together a quick, delicious and nutritious meal even on those days when you 'can't be bothered'!

vitalassurance

Keren is the founder of Vital Assurance, and hopes to bring to you her passion for healthy eating and living.

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