Pantry Perk Up

Do you remember that nursery rhyme about uncooperative Mary? It goes like this:

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.

I don’t know what a cockle shell is and right now my garden is in dire need of a fall cleanup, but my pantry is really looking spiffy since I did my Kitchen Makeover (you can see it on

But back to Mary. It’s no fun being contrary so if your pantry looks gnarly like my garden, let’s get ‘er done! How’s your pantry looking? Do you have 5 cans of tuna scattered about the cupboard instead of all stacked up together. Can you find cereal boxes here, there and everywhere? How about your staples, like flour, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch, etc.? Are they grouped together into a baking center or do you have to go on a pantry scavenger hunt to find them all?

Let’s do a little pantry perk-up, shall we? Set your timer for 15 minutes and start getting your dry goods in logical order. Like goes with like. You’ll want a shelf for the canned goods (and put the same thing all together, too). A big basket to hold your bags of dried beans, a smaller basket to hold envelopes of spice blends, mixes, etc. (look around the house, I bet you have what you need), and if you haven’t done it already, big containers (I like big glass jars) for your flour, sugars, oatmeal, etc. Putting dried goods like flour etc. into containers will keep the bugs out!

Getting your pantry together will help you get your meal planning in order, too. Get rid of the stuff you don’t use (donate it to a food bank if it’s good, usable food) and watch your pantry take shape. I want to challenge you to make a meal out of something in there this week!

Here’s a wonderful easy dinner recipe (from our low carb Menu-Mailer) to get you in the mood for a good pantry routing:

Chicken Nicoise
Serves 4

1 cup dry white wine, or use low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/3 cup frozen pearl onions (or you can use the same amount of chopped onion)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 small red bell pepper, deribbed, deseeded and sliced into strips
4 each olives, use what you like (I prefer Kalamatas)

Heat 1/4 cup of the wine (or chicken broth) to boiling in a skillet. Cook chicken in wine, turning once, until brown. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add garlic, onions, olive oil, Italian seasoning, bell peppers, olives and remaining wine (or broth) to skillet and heat till boiling. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add chicken back to the skillet, reducing heat to medium low. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Per Serving: 330 Calories; 6g Fat; 55g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 137mg Cholesterol; 196mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 0 Grain (Starch); 7 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat.

LC SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve over cauli-rice alongside sautéed green beans.  (To make cauli-rice trim cauliflower and cut into piece small enough to feed through food processor tube.   Process cauliflower till it is grainy and resembles rice.  Steam ‘rice’ on stove top or cook in microwave.  Microwave on high for about 10-12 minutes in microwave safe bowl. Add 3 tablespoons water and stir every 4 minutes while cooking.)

SERVING SUGGESTION: Add some brown rice.

VEGETARIANS: Skip the chicken and opt for a Boca Chikin patty or another veggie patty. Cooking time will be less.

KOSHER: None needed.

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