Pantry Essentials | for the love of the south

Those who love to eat have the ability to be the best cooks because they understand how to satisfy their own cravings and are more likely to trust their instincts. If you adore what you are cooking, you will have more ambition in the kitchen. Whenever you create something you love and are excited about, people sense and share that excitement with you. If you go into the kitchen preparing a dish you’re unsure of or doubt, it will most likely come out abysmal, but if you begin with confidence and thinking of dishes you love to eat, masterpieces are already in the works before you even wield a knife. Cook with pure poise and sheer selfishness.

Along with coolness in the kitchen, utilizing your pantry and stocking your freezer will set you up for triumphant meals that you and your loved ones will treasure. Whenever I have afternoons of downtime, I spend them in the kitchen hoarding the pantry and the freezer. It’s the sort of therapy I love, and it makes me feel utterly productive. What I don’t do is make multiple meals at a time and freeze them. I don’t find this practical at all. You will most likely forget about these dishes, they will end up shoved into the abyss of the freezer, and the mystery meals with be tossed away along with the time and money you spent preparing the dishes. What I do do is prepare elements of dishes I use in my everyday cooking. I leave meals like Pot Roast, Roasted Chicken, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Lasagna Bolognese for those lazy Sunday afternoons when I have hours and hours on end to prepare supper.


I will forever keep these essentials in my freezer. Like I said, I don’t freeze entire meals, but I do have basic elements waiting for me in my freezer. A great tip for freezing anything is to make sure you put an expiration date on the container so there is no guessing and no waste. Label everything!

Pizza Dough, we eat pizza at least twice a week in my house!

Homemade Stock (Vegetable or Chicken)

Tomato Soup is a comfort meal; all you have to do is add grilled cheese!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Sandwich Bread freezes great and never goes bad in a small household like ours.

Chicken Legs for Roasted Chicken Legs

– I have a gallon-sized bag of Vegetable Scraps in the freezer for homemade vegetable stock. Whenever the bag is full, I just boil the scraps with water, fresh garlic, onion and spices for 1½ hours, strain it, label it and freeze it!

Sticks of Butter are securely stashed in the freezer especially during the holidays when I do a lot of herb butter rubs and caramels. I never run out!

– I freeze Bacon to ensure it doesn’t go bad before I get a chance to use it all up!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (I live with a cookie monster)

Base of an Ice Cream Maker; you never know when you will have a craving, and I hate waiting 24 hours for it to freeze!


A well-stocked pantry will take you far in the kitchen. I buy my pantry essentials in bulk so I never run out of these ingredients. They are essential to many quick meals.

Rice makes a great side; leftovers are perfect for fried rice and pairs with the gumbo that is securely stashed in the freezer.

Dried Pasta is a lifesaver in the kitchen. I make the perfect Macaroni & Cheese, Pasta with Red Sauce, and Pasta with Pesto with dried pasta from the pantry.

Canned Tomatoes

Local Honey

Potatoes & Onions

Homemade Granola makes for the perfect quick breakfast and the easiest afternoon snack.

Chocolate in my house disappears straight out of the package most of the time.

Vinegars & Oils are essential for quick dressings and they boost the flavor of endless dishes.

Lemon & Garlic

Cornmeal makes for the perfect Griddle Cakes and speedy Cornbread.

Whole Bean Coffee… there is pretty much an endless supply in my pantry. I make Chicory Granita and Pumpkin Spiced Iced Coffee with the beans, along with my morning coffee.

Homemade Vegetable Stock Using Scraps:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped and skin left on

1 garlic bulb, cut in half at the equator

1 gallon-sized freezer bag filled with vegetable scraps

1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

4 quarts of water

In a stockpot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add onion, garlic and scraps to the pot. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the scraps begin to wilt from the heat slightly. Add peppercorns and water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours. Strain and divide between freezer bags. Label, date and stash in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Quick Start Homemade by Southern Living

To give an extra helping hand, I am giving away a copy of Southern Living Quick-Start Homemade, which has even more great tips, tricks and recipes for great weekday suppers! All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know your favorite speedy supper between now and midnight, October 13th. The winner will be chosen randomly and will be contacted via email on October 14th! Limit 1 comment per person, pretty please! Good luck, y’all!



Recently, I’ve had the kitchen to myself. So for an easy and fast dinner I make homemade pizzas with my homemade sauce or Chef John Besh’s tomato soup! Perfect and delicious.

I Like to take left over pinto beans and make it into a pot of yummy chili. Then the kids do not get tired of the pinto beans they have ate all week.

For a super super speedy dinner my husband LOVES quesadilla’s. I just take anything thats in the fridge and drop it into a tortilla warming in the cast iron skillet. Then shred cheese directly onto it (so not extra bowl, cutting board, etc is dirtied) and top with another tortilla. Serve with a greens and vinaigrette. The key is putting together interesting combo from the fridge. Hits have been leftover shredded chicken with jack cheese, BBQ sauce, peanuts and cilantro AND brie leftover shredded brussels spouts, dried cranberries, and fresh figs. SO so fast, and only one pan to clean up.

Veggie-licious Quesadillas! Super easy, quick & nutritious…you can use any of your favorite produce, but my go-to’s are onions, peppers, mushrooms, kale, & black beans 🙂

My favorite quick meal is stir fried rice with whatever is in the fridge – left over chicken, pork, carrots, onions, peas, edamame, etc. Quick and easy to throw together, great as left overs.

Favorite quick meal? Lightly saute garlic and chopped onion in olive oil with tomatoes, salt and pepper. add a little extra olive oil and toss in leftover pasta. Garnish with basil and parmesan!

My son & I like frozen tomato soup (heated of course) 🙂 and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. For desert we like Raspberry sherbert.

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