The Ideal Pantry

An ideal pantry should be well organized, enabling you to easily choose a lean protein, a fiber source, and flavorful ingredients in a matter of two minutes to put together a delicious, complete meal. The first step in setting up an efficient pantry is taking a trip to the grocery store, farmer's market, and so on. You may refer to the information in Chapter 17 to ensure your list is nutritionally complete. If your shopping list is balanced, your shopping cart will be balanced, and your pantry will be balanced.

Be prepared for those days of last-minute ordeals that can cause your routine or plan to go astray. Make sure to have a variety of frozen vegetables, cans of beans, quick-cooking grains such as couscous, and frozen entrées such as Kashi, Lean Cuisine, and Amy's Organic on hand. Then, if necessary, preparing a meal in minutes becomes relatively easy. You could simply heat an entire frozen bag of vegetables and a frozen entrée to have a complete meal ready in minutes. Keep other proteins available such as frozen shrimp, individual chicken breasts, turkey burgers, chicken sausages, fish fillets, and marinated tofu.

Each pantry should contain whole grains such as quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, millet, bulgur, brown rice, whole-grain breads, cereals, and whole-wheat pasta. Because foods come packaged in a variety of ways it is often difficult to accurately define the correct portion. You may want to create a snack basket with snack baggies filled with the appropriate portions of oat bran pretzels, nuts, soy crisps, and so on.

Be sure to keep measuring cups handy to scoop cereals and other grains. It's always a great idea to use measuring cups as serving utensils, so you know how much you're eating. Proteins can be measured with a small kitchen scale to monitor portion sizes. Personal preferences can create chaos in pantries if communication is not practiced. If there are specific nutritional needs or preferences among household members, be sure there are designated areas for these specific food choices.

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