Pantry Essentials


Pantry Essentials – by Kim VanderWerf

7 Days of Meals

Breakfast- breakfast in our house usually consists of juice, fruit and PBJ sandwich for my husband (because that’s what he ate growing up) and a banana, prunes, orange sections, toast and tea for me. We have in the past made smoothies as well as had cold cereal but both are very rarely eaten in our home. Juice is always freshly squeezed, and fruit is nearly always bananas, strawberries in season,  and anything else I can find in the organic frozen fruit section (blueberries, melon, pineapple, cherries).

Lunch- lunch for my husband during the work week is a lunch meat sandwich, applesauce, and a Clif bar. Lunch on the weekends is any leftover in the freezer from during the week- (sloppy joes, pizza, casserole or stir-fry usually). Lunch for me during the work week is a salad with chicken, Luna Bar and an apple. Lunch for me on the weekends is a PBJ sandwich both days with celery, carrot or cucumber spears.

Dinner- as you can see it’s fairly low-key until dinner time. The biggest challenge for breakfast and lunch meals is to be able to buy all of it- organic.

I have a rotating fall/winter menu, just like I have a rotating spring/summer menu. Which means that for two weeks (not in a row) every month in the winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb, March) we eat the same meals each day and then on the other two (also not in a row) we eat entirely different meals. So for meals that include vegetables, we would eat squash, potatoes, beets and carrots in the fall and winter. In the spring as things grow and are harvested we begin to include rhubarb, asparagus, spring onions, beans and so on into our meals. We buy all of our fruits and vegetables from our local cooperative. We buy our meat from a local supplier of grass-fed beef and our milk and eggs from a local organic farm.

Monday- homemade lasagna, small salad, garlic toast

Tuesday- homemade roasted chicken- the sides change out for example sometimes I make mashed potato, otherwise homemade stuffing or brown rice. Vegetables- there is always two- brussels sprout, cauliflower, broccoli, squash or beets.

Wednesday- Spinach and kale salad with homemade chicken soup

Thursday- homemade sloppy joes and home fries

Friday- homemade beef and broccoli, homemade cabbage slaw

Saturday- homemade pizza- my husband and my favorite pizza is always pepperoni. The recipe for my homemade crust is here; the gluten free pizza crust is here.

Sunday- roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and two veggies. I usually make homemade rolls to go with this meal. The recipe for my rolls is here.

Preparation is really the key to being able to make good homemade meals while balancing a very busy schedule. I do a lot of the prep work, when I can, the day before sometimes two days before. Whatever is left over is frozen for quick meals on busy weekends. I start making dinner after work, so about 5:45 pm, and can get most meals made and on the table by 6:30 pm. I usually bake the chicken the night before and then serve it warmed in gravy the next night for dinner. The lasagna is also prepared and ready to go by the time I get home so that all I need to do is pop it into the oven. I rely heavily on tried and true recipes I found through Food Network years ago. I am a faithful follower of Ina Garten, Paula Deen, Tyler Florence, Emeril Lagasse,  and Nigella Lawson. I’ve purchased most of their cookbooks and they are time-worn, food stained and dearly loved. We spend about $650.00 a month on food and household goods. In my next post, I will share some of the ways we save money and also stay organized and on task shopping.