Off-the-Cuff Cooking: 13 Elements to Carry on Hand

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What I Keep in My Pantry for Off-the-Cuff Cooking | Wit & Delight
Photographs by Sonja Overhiser at A Couple Cooks

Editor’s Be aware: This put up, initially printed in January of 2021, is right here to resolve your last-minute meal woes. Hold these elements readily available and also you’ll by no means marvel what’s for dinner once more.

Right here’s the odd factor about being a cookbook creator and recipe author. For on a regular basis cooking, I hardly ever comply with a recipe. Sure, my husband Alex and I are professional recipe developers however when it comes all the way down to it, nearly all of our meals are fully off the cuff. Actually, that’s our secret to wholesome, plant-forward consuming in the long run. Make just a few recipes per week, then fill in the remaining with impromptu cooking!

After all, cooking on this approach requires a way of confidence within the kitchen. However the extra you study primary constructing blocks and meal ideas, the extra artistic and assured you possibly can change into! So to start out off the yr, right here’s a grasp record of the essential elements we maintain round and some easy recipes as an instance each. Bear in mind: These are simply concepts and examples. Customise them to your tastes, weight loss program, and what you’ve gotten readily available!

Pantry elements (& recipe concepts!)

Let’s begin with the precise pantry, then transfer to the fridge. Listed below are my high picks to maintain readily available:

Canned beans

Beans are filled with plant-based protein and able to eat with little prep! There are such a lot of quick and straightforward meals you can also make with these powerhouses; listed here are some favorites:

Couscous (& different pasta)

Certain, everyone knows pasta is sweet to maintain round for fast meals. However a secret some folks don’t learn about is that this: couscous! It cooks in simply 5 minutes, making it good for simple dinners. Use customary couscous or pearl couscous, which is bigger and ball-shaped. Strive it in:

Farro, quinoa, and rice

Complete grains are clutch to maintain round for simple sides. Some favorites of ours: farro, a chewy grain like barley that cooks in half the time, and quinoa, that fashionable protein-packed fluff. A brand new favourite various to rice: lentil rice, which is manufactured from lentils and cooks in half the time. (Right here are a few options.) Strive them as:


Lentils are one other staple ingredient filled with plant-based protein and fiber. They’re nice as a facet dish or for bowl meals or tacos. We love them in salads or for lunches too! Eat them as:

Canned tuna (actually!)

Does holding tuna readily available sound retro? As a result of if that’s the case, we’re all concerning the Seventies pantry stuffed with canned tuna. Why? It’s protein-packed, tremendous shelf-stable, and makes for filling meals. Strive it in:


Oatmeal powers us most days, and it’s very best for complete grain wholesome breakfasts! It’s nice for snacks too. A few of our favourite methods to eat it off the cuff:

Outdated Bay (secret weapon!)

There’s nothing fairly like Outdated Bay for impromptu seasoning! This basic seafood seasoning mixture of paprika, celery seed, and plenty of secret herbs at all times hits the spot. Seize it on the grocery retailer or make your own.

What I Keep in My Pantry for Off-the-Cuff Cooking | Wit & Delight

Fridge elements (& recipe concepts!)


Skip them at breakfast and save eggs for dinner! Eggs are stuffed with protein and a part of a nutritious diet, sparsely. A few of our favorites are:


Gotta have them for all these tacos! And don’t neglect quesadillas and fast burritos and wraps. More often than not, whipping up a fast quesadilla is masses quicker than getting takeout or quick meals.


Our veggie of selection today is broccoli: It’s filled with vitamins and the proper facet for all kinds of meals. Strive it in a throw-together meal:

Leafy greens: kale or spinach

Throw just a few handfuls of greens into absolutely anything to infuse the good things! Pre-packaged child greens are helpful for fast meals. We throw them in soups, stews, scrambles, stir-fries, bowl meals, and naturally: smoothies.

Tofu or tempeh

You don’t must eat vegan to get pleasure from these tasty proteins. Tofu is a part of a nutritious diet, sparsely. Tempeh is lesser-known however a favourite of ours, because it has a extra strong texture and taste. Strive it in:

Smoked shoyu (secret weapon!)

Lastly, right here’s a secret weapon condiment: smoked soy sauce (aka smoked shoyu)! It’s changing into extra extensively accessible at grocery shops: examine close to the Japanese merchandise. The intensely savory, smoky taste is unimaginable for utilizing in off-the-cuff recipes as a seasoning. Throw it in any of the recipes above.

What I Keep in My Pantry for Off-the-Cuff Cooking | Wit & Delight
Broccoli makes nice impromptu bowl meals.

And that’s it: a little bit rundown of a few of our favorites! Once more, the recipes above are supposed to be guides. Use them to customise your individual expertise primarily based on the elements you’ve gotten readily available.

Inform us: What do you make as “off-the-cuff” recipes? What do you wish to maintain round in your pantry and fridge? Tell us within the feedback beneath!

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