10-minute Pantry Meal - of Awesome!

The things one can do with a fully stocked pantry of awesome.

Seriously guys, it's amazing!

I got back from a multi-hour errand trip with my roommate and was STARVING. I'd defrosted some ground beef to use, not really sure what it was going to turn into, but planning on something today anyway.

Since I was starving, it had to be fast. With my dietary restrictions, fast isn't always easy to make if I want it to taste amazing as well. I eat mostly whole foods, and a minimal amount of processed food when necessary. Usually that means cutting veggies and preparing stuff before cooking. That wasn't going to work today - I needed food NOW!!!

So, I put the beef on to brown. And then went in the pantry. [Note: best not to do this unless you're sure you can find something in the pantry pretty quickly. Otherwise you'll end up with burned meat and nothing to do with it!]

First: I saw pasta. Sweet! Pasta's fast! I put on a pot of water to boil.

Hmm, still need something to do with the browning meat...back to the pantry I go! Of course, my problem is that I can't use tomatoes or cheese - which are generally the two things you'd use to cook with beef and pasta, right? Hmmm...

Second: I spied my peach salsa (tomato-less! yes!). I wonder what cooked ground beef and peach salsa over pasta would taste like? My thoughts: delicious. And, even better, I don't have to worry about choosing spices because the salsa is fully spiced already! Score!

And thus, I came up with a simple yet delicious 10-minute pantry meal:

1 lb ground beef
3/4 qt of peach salsa (or whatever salsa you have around)
pasta, cooked (your choice)

Brown the beef, and when it's just about done, mix in the salsa and keep on the heat until the beef is done and the salsa's nice and warm. Pour over pasta. Eat.

Simple, easy, and my belly is one happy camper! Yay!

[Notes on filling a pantry:

Obviously not everyone has the enormous space for a pantry that I do. But some of the staples that I suggest having around for easy meals are:

1. Canned beans. Multiple varieties: black, kidney, great northern (or some other white bean), etc. I have a secret love affair with black beans, so I have more cans of those kind than any other.
2. Dry beans/grains. Multiple varieties: black, kidney, white, lentils. Brown rice, barley, groats, rolled oats, millet, quinoa, wild rice.
3. Canned veggies. We keep corn in our pantry.
4. Canned tuna or salmon. Always have a can on hand. You'd be amazed at how refreshing it can be to see the can of tuna and know your meal is minutes away!
5. Pasta. At least two varieties. One short (like bow-tie or penne) and one long (like fettuccini or angel hair - or spaghetti, but my personal preference bars spaghetti from my shelves).
6. Salsas and sauces. My roommate has a couple of jars of tomato sauce on hand all of the time. He also has a number of curry sauces. And we have plenty of tomato-less, dairy-less sauces for me.
7. Fruit sauce/syrup. It goes well on any meat. Blueberry syrup on meatloaf or meatballs. Peach preserves or apple sauce on pork chops. Cherry chutney on pork chops or ham. The list goes on and on!
8. Fresh garlic and onions. And potatoes. All of these make meals pretty quickly because they're easy to cook.
9. Then all of the normal staples: flour/sugar/baking supplies, condiments of whatever variety you prefer, spices, oils.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you should have in your pantry, but merely a small list of what I find especially helpful in my pantry. When I need a meal quick, I have but to grab from the shelf, and off I go!]

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