oliveoilIt’s a daily dilemma for traveling moms: How can I make healthy family meals with the time and energy I have left at the end of the day? Dieticians say a well-stocked pantry is the key to success. If you have the right ingredients on hand, it will be less of a challenge to make healthy  meals your family will love within an hour of walking in the door.
 
“Having a well-stocked pantry is money in your pocket,” says Lucy Cole, registered dietician. “And learning how to put together quick meals on the spot saves you time, energy and a lot of stress during the week.”
 
You’ll always have a nutritious meal within reach if you keep these basics on hand:
 
·         Quick-cooking grains, such as whole wheat couscous, whole wheat pasta, bulgur and rolled oats
·         Heart-healthy oils, such as olive oil and safflower oil, to use in moderation for sautéing, roasting and in homemade vinaigrette
·         Jarred marinara sauce, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste
·         Canned or dried lentils, chickpeas and cannellini (or Northern), black, and kidney beans
·         Fun “add-ins,” such as roasted red peppers, water chestnuts, and pineapple tidbits in their own juice
·         Baking staples: all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, corn meal, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and cane sugar
·         Whole-grain refrigerator biscuits, a great convenience food to use for individual quiches, pizzas and sandwiches
·         Chicken, beef and vegetable broth, preferably low-sodium
·         Vinegar. Balsamic and red wine vinegar are good basics for making vinaigrette and perking up soups and vegetables. For a change, be adventurous and try specialty varieties, such as rice wine or pomegranate red wine
·         Dijon mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce and Tabasco
·         Frozen vegetables, fruit and berries. (Cole likes frozen vegetables over canned because they retain more nutritional quality, tend to be lower in sodium, and can be portioned out to fit the meal’s needs.)
·         Frozen protein, especially lower-fat options, such as chicken, pork chops and fish
·         High-fiber cereals
·         Potatoes (Russet and sweet), onions, garlic, celery and carrots
·         Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage