It’s only September, but chatter has it that winter will be wearing out its welcome with voracity this year. I’ve talked with many gardeners over the past few months who tell me their baskets are less than bushels-ful. The Farmer’s Almanac has the country abuzz with their predictions of an earlier, colder, and longer winter.

Winter Clouds in the desert

Creeping Clouds

Now’s the time to start stocking up on those food items that can get you through any storm. They’re handy when there’s unexpected company. They’re reliable when you can’t get to the store. And most of the items are inexpensive, which allows you to save up now for those Big Feasts later.

Meal planning isn’t just about buying foods you need for a meal. It’s also about creatively using the foods you already have. I’m a big fan of mix-n-match foods that don’t cost a lot. Plus ~ Bonus! ~ most of these staples are multi-functional:

  • Malt-o-Meal and Instant Oatmeals go well in travel tumblers for a warm, on-the-go Breakfast. Mix with a spoon of syrup for more flavor
  • Puddings and gelatins offer a delightfully light texture for a snack or dessert
  • Cream soups are warm and hearty on their own yet also blend well with rice or over meats
  • Dried beans, once prepared, can be served in soups or with meats.
  • A can of drained vegetables tossed with pasta adds color and taste to your main dish
  • Diced canned tomatoes can be a side dish, added to a casserole, or served on toast
Breakfast Bruschetta: canned, diced and seasoned tomatoes on toast

Breakfast Bruschetta

It’s also important to stock your freezer with foods you can easily prepare. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a must-have at Bedford Manor. They can be quickly grilled, fried, baked, slow-cooked. Added to soups. Cut into strips. Placed on rice and pasta. Mixed into your Mac ‘n Cheese. The very versatile chicken breast is definitely worth the cost.

Shredded Chicken tossed into a serving of creamy Mac 'n Cheese

Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese

A few pieces of meat in the slow-cooker topped with a bottle of BBQ sauce, served alongside a helping of vegetables makes a great meal. Leftovers? No problem. Toss the meat into a serving of pasta. Or mix the vegetables into a soup.

A strategically stocked pantry and freezer can help you out of many food worries: When you need a quick fix for company. When your kids and spouse are having a snow day. When the car breaks down and you don’t want to spend any more money for a week. And when you want to save your bucks for the bigger Holiday menus.

Feel free to download my PDF Checklist before your next shopping trip. Really. I made it with you in mind. This list is by no means exhaustive, and can easily be changed to suit your household’s dietary needs and taste buds. You’ll also want to include items you typically keep in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets: milk, butter, eggs, sugar, flour.

Are there other items that are staples in your pantry and freezer? How do you mix up your quick-fix meals?

As always,
~Happy Eating!

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

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