Monday, August 22, 2016

Simple Summer Meals: The Pantry

A list of simple summer meal ideas is valuable.

But if all I have is some tomatoes and green beans, my meal options are limited.

Far too often I get to four o'clock and start flipping through my meal ideas. I'll make a quiche; oops, no eggs. How about stir-fry? No rice. I can put together some sandwiches. No, I don't have bread or rolls.

For me, the key to simple meals is a well-stocked pantry. And I find that more difficult in the summer than winter.

I'm not sure why. I tend to be at the grocery store far more often in the summer. I might want a watermelon for a picnic or stop in for some more jar flats. Maybe I'm going to pick up peaches and make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way past or maybe I'm shopping for a camping trip. It would seem that more frequent stops at the store would result in a better stocked pantry, but somehow it doesn't work that way for me.

I think it all has to do with planning. When I make a quick stop at the store, I pick up whatever is my pressing need or the items that happened to make it to my grocery list (if I remembered to pick up my list on the way out the door.) When I am at the store more rarely, I do a better job at preparing for the shopping trip before leaving the house.

In the winter I tend to go on a big shopping trip about once a month. I use my master shopping list to go through the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room to find out what I need to add to my shopping list. Those few minutes of preparation are given back many times over when I reach for a box on the shelf, find it nearly empty, and realize I picked up a new box the last time I was at the store.

This is clearly a case of not always doing what I know I should do. I know that nothing wastes time like an extra shopping trip because of lack of planning the last time I was at the store. I know that it is more fun to cook when I have a well-stocked pantry. I just need to slow down enough to prepare before my quick stop at the store.

My challenge for you...decide on some simple meals that your family loves and figure out what ingredients those meals require. Commit to having those ingredients in your pantry or freezer at all times. For me that means items like rice, eggs, rolls, and tortillas. Your list may be completely different. Whatever it takes for you to feel like you have quick options on hand to put together a meal for your family.

In the next post I'll share some shortcuts that I take in the summer, but in the meantime I'd love to hear your hints on keeping a well-stocked pantry in the summer craziness.


  1. Menu planning!!!! I rotate menus for the seasons, so I have a two week summer, fall, winter, and spring menu. As the season starts winding down, I take out the next season's menus and tweak, check the pantry, swap out if I have found a new recipe, etc. Of course, there is always room for impromptu get togethers, excellent deals at the grocery store, bumper crops from the garden, and the occasional budget mess up like an unexpected bill, etc. but I do make sure my staples stay filled, which was a blessing for me this week in the grocery department since I only had half of my weekly grocery budget to shop with. So, this week, baked chicken with potatoes and green beans, chicken and sausage gumbo, cheesy chicken over rice, and BBQ chicken are on the menu.... see the recurring theme here LOL? But seriously, I was so thankful for the stocked pantry that I had or I would have been in some serious trouble this week.

  2. I follow a blog The Prudent Homemaker, she has some excellent lists and plans for shopping and keeping your pantry stocked. It is a continuous, on going job, but one well worth the time and effort. Summers are harder with children. Good Luck, I enjoy your blog, and your children are beautiful.

  3. I love the comment by Southern Ladye about her seasonal menus! I need to do that!
    As for a well stocked pantry in summer time? My year round method is to add it to my grocery list as soon as I take out the last mustard bottle, or mayo jar; or when I empty the last bag of sugar (or any bulk food item) into my airtight container. I keep my shopping list on my phone and the phone is on my "desk-counter" in the kitchen. When I run out the door I just grab my phone and keys. All that with very possibly 5 children (10 yrs and younger) in I'm not sure about the "running" part but you get the picture! I surely am enjoying your posts about menu plans and simple meals!

  4. Oh,my. I'd like to say I do well all the time with my normal menu planning and list making, but during the crazy busy canning season, I tend to let it fall to the way side. We end up surviving on whatever we can scrounge up many times. :) The rest of the year, though, I am pretty meticulous about creating a menu. I create my grocery list as I add each meal to the menu. I agree a well-stocked pantry and freezer make cooking so much easier and enjoyable. I look forward to your future posts!

  5. By June it is just too hot here to be running around shopping. Just traveling time round trip for groceries is 1.75-2 hours so I don't shop often. I do one final huge shopping trip in May. I keep a running shopping list year-round. Basically as soon as I open something it goes on the list. If I am in the city, near a store, I know what I need. Generally it is just replenishment of non-freezable perishables or craving foods. Once things cool down, when there is no risk of me melting in a parking lot that is 120ยบ, I do another big shopping trip.

  6. Your daughter is an absolute doll, and she's really grown a lot! Thank you for including photos of yourself and your beautiful family. It's a wonderful part of your wonderful blog.


  7. I agree that a well stocked pantry is important. Even if it only contains rice, bread, potatoes and other such staples.

  8. I am the same way! I am most definitely at the store more often in the summer time. The last two weeks we have really tried to stick to easy menu planning and so far have done well!
    This summer, we have eaten a lot of bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches since we grew a lot of tomatoes this year. I know for our family we really have to keep it simple. With five children homeschooling and two little ones who need mommy A LOT, I have to have simple meal planning!

  9. Now that my children are older and can help cook I am contemplating making out a weekly meal schedule. Usually we cook as we go but I AM SO TIRED of running to town when I realize we can't cook a certain dish because we are out of an ingredient. I hope to stock the pantry and get a meal plan made up, especially now that school has started.


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