As we spring clean our bodies and homes this season, let’s add the pantry to that list.
Stuff that has been in the cupboards for over a few years needs to go. For the stuff that you’re keeping, find out about additional culinary or medicinal uses that could make them even more useful.
Summer is recommended as the best time to change your diet. As we spend more time outdoors – sweating and sometimes overindulging in certain cases – the risk of health issues like allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, skin sensitivities and dehydration increases. Even though it’s still a few weeks away, it’s great to be prepared.
No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen for endless hours in the height of summer, but with the right few staples handy, you’ll have more time for the outdoors and those impressive impromptu meals.
Here is our list of nutrient-dense and wholesome foods that you need to have in your pantry.
Our favourite pantry item. This time of the year brings a huge variety of fresh produce; local, in season and not bad on the budget, so make sure you indulge. Summer is the official smoothie season as well, so get those blenders and juicers out and try a variety of fruits and veggies. Other ideas include plant-based bowls (hot and cold), cold soups (try the Spanish–style Gazpacho), salads, oven-roasted veggies and veggie scraps to make chips for a snack, as well as home-made lemonade. Don’t forget to order your organic veggie boxes from us weekly if you’re in the Joburg area! Click here for more.
Herbs and spices
If you choose the right herbs and spices your meals will not need a lot of ingredients to taste amazing. Keeping a range of herbs and spices in your pantry guarantees deliciously seasoned food that is still packed with nutrients and is good for your health. Make herb and fruit flavoured water a standard beverage in your kitchen, flavour your salads and oven-roasted dishes using herbs and spices like thyme or cinnamon, fennel with fish and make your own pesto with fresh basil. Read: 5 Fab Herbs and How to Use Them.
Oils and vinegars
For less time-consuming cooking, oils and vinegar are your best pantry staple. Keep plant oils for cooking and adding flavour to certain dishes, experiment with various types of vinegar and try apple cider vinegar-water first thing in the morning. Nothing beats a homemade salad dressing with plain old cold-pressed olive oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste.
We’ll say it again: no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen for hours in the height of the summer! Stock up on pantry items like nut butters, mustard, honey and fruit preserves to deliver a delicious platter of snacks. Nuts, grains and seeds – besides looking pretty in glass jars – make nutritious add-ons to salads, snacks, cereals and smoothies. Oats soaked overnight will not need to be cooked, just add your favourite fruits, honey and seeds, and you’re good to go. Couscous is a great all-rounder but beware of the “keto-flu” with the couscous, if you are that way inclined.
Other basics like canned beans and grains (which can be cooked and used over a period of time in various dishes when stored accordingly) are also good pantry essentials.
Integrating all food groups into your diet is very important, but everything in moderation. Make sure your pantry is summer-ready and your body will thank you for it. Remember to visit local markets for your produce and support local organic farmers. Also, remember that eating out-of-season foods comes with the risk of preservatives and chemicals that are used to keep the food fresh. Eat clean, keep hydrated, throw in fun physical activities and enjoy what you are doing and eating.