Take meal planning off your to-do list and choose from a week’s worth of easy and healthy pantry meals your whole family will enjoy.
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A lot has changed in our world recently, and I know I’m not alone in struggling with these changes. My family is in week four of social distancing, working from home, and distance learning (aka homeschooling). Needless to say this is not an easy time.
I can’t adequately describe the constant state of anxiety, uncertainty, and overwhelm I am in as I try to navigate this new normal of being a mom, teacher, housekeeper, cook, and business owner.
While I’m totally burnt out from spending more than half my time in the kitchen prepping and cleaning up from 21 meals a week, that time is also a source of comfort for me. It’s a routine I can count on, it makes me feel productive, and it makes my heart full when we’re enjoying so many more family meals together than we previously did.
Finding Comfort In Meal Planning
It should come as no surprise to you that meal planning is what’s keeping me sane. After all, I wrote a meal planning guide for goodness sakes! But meal planning during these unprecedented times is a little different than usual. Leaving your house to get groceries on a weekly basis can be anxiety provoking. And if you do make it to the supermarket, who knows what you’ll even find – so many shelves are bare from weeks of panic leading up to now.
One of my top meal planning tips has always been to have your home stocked with pantry staples and refrigerator and freezer basics, and this is more important now than ever before. Hopefully your shelves are already filled with bags of whole grains, pasta (including bean-based), jars and cans of tomato sauce, boxed broth, flour, nut butter, dried herbs and spices, canned fish, and canned and dried pulses – dry beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.
Pantry Staples for Healthy Meals
If you have some of the items I mention here, along with some basic refrigerator and freezer staples like milk, cheese, eggs, fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit, and whole grains, you’re in good shape to make your family a week of healthy pantry meals.
Since it may be tough right now to get fresh poultry, beef, and fish, and if you didn’t already have some stored in your freezer, canned pulses are particularly helpful to have on hand while stuck at home. They’re essential for times like these, when cost, shelf life, nutrition, and ease of use are all so important.
Pulses: A Key Pantry Ingredient
In addition to being a low-cost option (which is helpful given the current economic climate), pulses pack a plant-based punch of protein and fiber – two nutrients to ensure your family stays full and healthy. I’m sure I’m not alone in having kids who want snacks all day, so anything that can keep them from asking for something to eat every 30 minutes helps!
Pulses are also super versatile, which is why many of my meals these past few weeks have been filled with them. From soups and stews, taco fillings, and pasta dishes all the way to baked goods, there are endless ways to use pulses in the kitchen. Recipe calls for kidney beans but all you have are black beans? Swap ‘em. Have one pound of beef in the freezer, but want to make enough burgers for leftovers? Add a can of pureed beans to make the meat go further. The possibilities are endless!
In the below plan for healthy pantry meals I’ve included some of my favorite pulse-filled recipes, but if you’re looking for more, be sure to check out this roundup of 50+ Nutritious and Delicious Pulse Recipes I previously shared a few years ago.
5 Days of Healthy Pantry Meals
Below are five breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that you can mix and match over the course of a week. Many of these recipes make enough for leftovers, so make sure you plan your days with leftovers in mind or freeze some for another week.
For more pulse-related recipes and cooking tips, be sure to check out pulses.org/nap.
What are some of your family’s favorite healthy pantry meals?