Amanda Thomas (aka, the Domestic CEO), joins the Clever Cookstr to share her tips for stocking your pantry and throwing together no-fuss weeknight dinners.
Do you sometimes feel like your kitchen and pantry are a mysterious conglomeration of condiments with unknown origins, cans you're afraid to open, and none of the things that you might need to put together a weeknight dinner at the last minute?
Fear not - the Domestic CEO, Amanda Thomas, is here to help. Today, she'll share her tips for keeping your pantry stocked with everyday meal-savers that will bail you out just when you need it.
Clever Cookstr: Does coming up with new weeknight dinners feel like a chore or do you find ways to enjoy it?
Domestic CEO: I have always enjoyed cooking, but I grew up in the Midwest on a meat and potatoes cuisine. It wasn’t until I got married that my husband and I started experimenting with dishes. We started with Italian food, which seemed the least intimidating, then moved on Asian and more recently started tackling Indian foods. We now have many items in our pantry that smell terrible, but taste great (fish sauce!), and tubs and jars of stuff in our fridge that have little to no English on their labels (authentic curry pastes, ginger paste, etc).
Even now, with all the cooking we do, we still have nights when the meal is just barely edible. Cooking new recipes takes practice, and sometimes you are going to fail. That’s why having a box of pasta and a can of tomatoes in the pantry always comes in handy!
Clever Cookstr: What are your strategies for meal planning?
Domestic CEO: I plan out my meals typically a week at a time and try to only go to the grocery store once a week.
Usually I am just cooking for my husband and myself, but I cook larger meals so I can pack up individual serving leftovers so we can eat them for lunch the next day. This saves on the stress of having to pack lunches and the cost of eating out for lunch.
We typically cook 5-6 nights per week and one evening is a “clean out the fridge” night to make sure that nothing gets forgotten and wasted.
Clever Cookstr: What items do you stock up on to make sure that you can always throw together dinner?
Domestic CEO: Rice. We go through a lot of rice, so we buy it in 20-pund bags from the Asian market. I keep both white and basmati on hand at all times, stored in large, gasket-sealed plastic bins. That way it stays fresh and keeps the bugs out.
Pasta – I always try to have a few boxes of pasta on hand. Whether it’s for a planned Italian dinner, or an impromptu “I don’t want to cook tonight” meal, pasta always comes in handy.
Canned tomatoes – Just like the pasta can save us from going out to eat, a few cans of tomatoes can do the same thing. If we want to get adventurous, we sauté any leftover veggies from the fridge, pour a can of tomatoes over it, and then add some Italian seasoning. It’s a very quick meal and it uses up the vegetables that would otherwise get thrown out.
If we're feeling really lazy (and super gluttonous), we make a simple pasta sauce that is 1 large can of tomatoes, 1 onion cut in half (both halves put into the pan), and a half stick of salted butter. It sounds bland, but after it simmers for about 30 minutes, it's a great tomato sauce that literally takes 2 minutes of effort to make.
Canned beans – We typically keep a decent amount of beans on hand at all times. Beans can be added to salads, soups, and even made into a variety of vegetarian main dishes. Beans also have a lot of health benefits, like lowering cholesterol, so using them a couple of times a week not only keeps our budget in check, but also our health.