This is Part 4 in an ongoing series about menu planning. If you’ve missed anything, please click HERE to go to the beginning.
Hey y’all! Did anyone try the Freezer Inventory this weekend? I know, exciting stuff right? šŸ˜‰ It will be the first time you save money! Promise. 
Sorry this post is a little late. I’ve been under the weather since the weekend and it kind of kicked my butt. Feeling better now and ready to move on with our series. Thanks for being patient and I hope all the moms out there had a great Mother’s Day weekend!
OK, on to the next step in our series: building a great pantry. 
If you remember, in my “how to” menu plan post, I mentioned that I check my pantry and cabinets for available side dishes, but I also keep my essential cooking items in there too. These items are important for me to have on hand at all times and ensure that I can whip up something fantastic, even at the last minute. 
Here are the things I find to be essential to being a great home cook:
A few of my pantry staples
Staple food items – 
Bouillon cubes (chicken, beef, vegetable) – these are great to make broth and add flavor to dishes; we add one to our rice cooker when we make rice
Bread crumbs (seasoned and plain)
Dried beans (variety)
Tomato sauce, paste, and canned diced
Pasta (variety) including egg noodles
Cous Cous
Evaporated and Condensed Milk – I buy these around the holidays when they are on sale and I have coupons
Condensed cream soups (mushroom, chicken, celery) – great for making sauces
Wondra flour – a Southern staple – flour made specifically for making sauces and gravies – no lumps!
Canned Tuna
Jarred spaghetti sauce – I almost never use it plain. I like to jazz it up with seasonings.
BBQ Sauce
Oil ā€“ Canola, Olive, and Crisco
Vinegar ā€“ Distilled white and Apple Cider (Oil and vinegar are perfect for making homemade salad dressing. I almost never buy salad dressing anymore!)
Peanut Butter
Popcorn (not the microwaveable kind – the mark up on microwave popcorn is insane and isn’t actually faster, hubby timed it – we’ve done ours on the stove since)
Gravy & Sauce Packets (I use McCormick that I buy on sale around Thanksgiving and Christmas):
                Gravies ā€“ brown, turkey, pork, chicken
                Sauces/seasonings ā€“ Taco and spaghetti
Preprocessed Foods ā€“ Mac nā€™ cheese, and Stove Top
A few of my baking staples
Baking Staples – 
Sugar ā€“ brown, light brown, confectioners/powdered, regular granulated, superfine and Splenda
Baking powder
Baking soda
Chocolate chips (Again, I buy these at the holidays during sales. They keep a long time.)
Vanilla and peppermint extract
Baking mixes ā€“ cookie, brownie, cake (plus frosting)
Now for this week’s menu. It’s a short menu week for us because we have my friend Jill’s wedding this weekend. 

Week 3 Menu –

Monday 5/14
Swedish meatballs (I get mine from Ikea – yes really), mashed potatoes and veggie

Tuesday 5/15
Breakfast for Dinner – Pancakes and Bacon

Wednesday 5/16
Lemon Pepper Tilapia and Sides – I basically just sprinkle the fish with Lemon Pepper Seasoning and cook in a skillet.

Thursday 5/17
Pioneer Woman Chicken Fried Steak

Friday 5/18
Pork Chops , Rice, Vegetable – Place pork chops on a clean plate, sprinkle with adobo and place adobo side down in a hot pan, then douse with Worchestershire sauce and sprinkle the side facing up with more adobo. Flip and add extra Worchestershire as needed to coat.

Saturday 5/19
Jill’s Rehearsal Dinner

Sunday 5/20
Jill’s Wedding

So, have you tried making a plan yet? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below.


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