6 Pantry Staples for Quick Nutritious Meals

It goes without saying that cooking will look different during these unusual times. With all that is uncertain, having a stocked pantry can come in handy. Here are some shelf stable foods that are great for putting together easy meals in 20 minutes or less.

Canned beans. They are a great source of protein, and can be used in many ways. Since they cook so quickly, you can use them to make quesadillas in minutes. Just add beans, cheese and a veggie to a warm tortilla. You can also mash beans with some breadcrumbs and an egg for an easy bean burger, or combine beans with canned tomato sauce, onion, spices and cheese for chili.

Lentils. Full of fiber and protein, lentils often come dried. To prepare a big batch, rinse them, add them to a pot over medium-high high heat with water or stock, bring to a boil, then simmer until tender for 20 minutes. For an easy meal, toss them in a bowl with a grain and vegetables.
Whole grains. Brown rice, quinoa, barley, farro or whole wheat pasta, all help to make a complete meal. Try microwaveable rice mixes or cook a big batch at the beginning of the week to reheat as needed. Whole grains make a great side dish, and add a hearty element to soups.

Canned tomatoes. A great source of vitamins A and C that can add flavor to any dish. From pasta to chili or fillings for quesadillas, these shelf-stable fruits save a lot of time in the kitchen.

Tortillas. They last longer than bread and blend well with several other pantry staples. For a simple dinner, try a wrap with scrambled eggs, cheese and vegetables. Tortillas can also serve as a thin pizza crust.

Chicken broth. Combine some of your pantry tortillas with chicken and spices for a simple tortilla soup. Or use any noodles you have with frozen veggies and chicken to create a simple noodle soup. Another option is to add lentils, canned tomatoes and any other vegetables you have for a nourishing lentil soup.
Spinach and Black Bean Quesadillas
Servings: 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen spinach, cooked and drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
8 (8 inch) tortillas
8 oz. shredded Mexican blend cheese or Monterey Jack
4 green onions (both white and green parts), chopped
Sour cream
1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir well to evenly distribute the oil. Cook until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the cooked spinach and black beans and cook for 5 minutes. Add the fajita seasoning and mix well.
3. Lay 1 tortilla on a skillet over medium heat. Add shredded cheese, then the spinach and black bean mixture.
4. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and another sprinkle of shredded cheese and lay the top tortilla on top of the cheese.
5. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook a few minutes more, until browned.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas, then cut the quesadillas into slices.
Serving Size: 1 quesadilla

Nutrition Information per Serving: 613 calories, 25 grams total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 70 grams carbohydrate, 15 grams fiber, 28 grams protein, 609 milligrams sodium, 1112 milligrams potassium, 20 grams sugar
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