A freshly made flatbread pepperoni pizza sprinkled with arugula.
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Bare Pantry To Full Place: Using Staples

We’ve all been there. After a long day when it’s time to go to the kitchen and find something easy to make for dinner, what’s there to make? Nothing. You might keep opening and closing the fridge hoping that a pizza will appear – yeah, we’ve been there! Well, we’re here to tell you that when you’re in a pinch it’s the perfect time to get creative and think outside the box. Pairing the staple items that you have in your kitchen to prepare a meal at home can actually be much easier (and more fun) than you think!

Finding your base

First things first, take a quick inventory of the pantry and the fridge. Once you’ve done your inventory, look for your bases, something that you can mix a bunch of ingredients in to. These could be items like rice, bread or pasta. You’re likely to have one of these things in your pantry if it’s something you eat often. Or, maybe you have frozen pizza dough in the freezer that you haven’t used up yet – this could be the perfect base for a “kitchen sink” pizza. When we think back at all of our childhood memories, there are certainly plenty of times that our parents were whipping things together out of necessity and we didn’t even know it. And it probably tasted great.

Get creative with toppings

Now that you’ve determined your base, it’s time to find toppings. Do you have frozen vegetables that you can toss onto your pizza or in to your pasta? Or, a can of shredded chicken that you haven’t used yet? Chances are, there are a few great topping ideas lurking in the kitchen that you just haven’t been in a pinch to get creative with. Even if you’re missing one or two ingredients, substitutions can always be made. A quick internet search can help you make the necessary swaps. Don’t have milk? You can dilute a little coffee creamer for the same results.

When we think back at all of our childhood memories, there are certainly plenty of times that our parents were whipping things together out of necessity and we didn’t even know it.

Mix it all together

Now that you’ve found your base and determined your toppings, the last step is to mix it all together. If you’re going the pizza route, drizzle a little olive oil or pesto on top, sprinkle the cheese and pop it in the oven. If you’re making a pasta dish, toss it in butter, season with garlic, salt and pepper. It’s all beginning to come together and you’re becoming the master of your kitchen. 

Don’t be discouraged if at first glance, you have a bare pantry. Sometimes, it’s easy to pick up frozen pizzas or order takeout – there’s no shame there. But when you have the opportunity to think outside the box and throw a few of your favorite things together, in a way that you wouldn’t normally, you begin to find the joy of cooking. You might even surprise yourself. Some of the best meals are made by accident or when all you needed was a little kick of creativity.