10 Fridge and Pantry Essentials to Help You Get Dinner on the Table in 10 Minutes

Food In Jars

How often have you opened the fridge and proclaimed that oft-stated phrase: “There’s nothing to eat!” Well, no more. While we can’t promise to help you make something from nothing, we can help you make something from very little: keep our ten fridge and pantry essentials on-hand, and dinner will come together quickly, easily, and deliciously.

1. Jarred Tomatoes

Canned or jarred tomatoes are a lifeline: added to beans or lentils, they make the base for a hearty veggie stew; sautéed with onions and garlic, they make a fantastic sauce for pasta or rice. Choose organic San Marzano tomatoes in glass jars whenever possible; they’ll have the most flavor and will be devoid of toxins like BPA.

Try them in this easy Middle Eastern shakshuka.

2. Frozen Vegetables

High-quality frozen vegetables are just as good for you as fresh, and they make up the base if a host of great meals. Keep bags of organic peas, green beans, and broccoli in your freezer at all times. Defrost them quickly in a low oven or microwave, and roast them or stir them into pasta for a delicious meal rich in flavors and colors.

Try them in this roasted vegetable salad with tahini dressing.

3. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk immediately adds flavor and texture to even the simplest of ingredients: pulses, frozen veggies, or leftover protein can quickly be converted into a Thai-style curry or soup with just a few extra seasonings you probably already have in the spice cupboard. Choose a version that’s devoid of carrageenan and canned in a BPA-free can, and drizzle away.

Try it in this vegetarian dal with turmeric.

4. Nut Butter

Nut butter is rich in both protein and flavor, making it a no-brainer for super-easy meals. Spread on your favorite toast and top with apple slices for a delicious open-faced tartine, or add to a coconut milk-based curry for a bit more richness and body.

Try it in this paleo veggie coconut curry.

5. Homemade Sauerkraut

Fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi can dress up a simple salad (or hodgepodge of leftovers) easily! We love this vivid version made with beet and red cabbage. Spoon it onto a sandwich or salad to make it seem like a special occasion meal with almost no effort.

Try it in this parsnip and sauerkraut leftovers bowl.

6. Jarred Beans

Chickpeas, white beans, black beans, red beans – the sky’s the limit when you have a jar of legumes or pulses at your disposal. They make an excellent base for a hearty meal salad, but they can also be whirled into a homemade dip for crackers or crudités.

Try them in this jumbo white bean and kale stew.

7. Dijon Mustard

The French always keep mustard on-hand, and it’s not hard to see why: raid the freezer for sausage, chicken, or steak, and serve it simply with a dollop good-quality mustard for a meal that will transport you to France in moments.

Try it alongside this croque monsieur panini.

8. Eggs

If you have eggs on-hand, you’re halfway to dinner! Fry or scramble them or use them as the base for an omelette or crustless quiche into which you stir whatever odds and ends are bouncing about in your crisper drawer.

Try them in this rainbow chard omelet.

9. Cooking Fat (of your choice)

Olive oil, grass-fed ghee, coconut oil, beef tallow… your choice of healthy cooking fat should have a permanent place in your pantry (and take the place of canola oil once and for all).

Try it as the base for simple but filling fried eggs with wild greens.

10. Cider Vinegar

Mild cider vinegar is the perfect base for a simple vinaigrette, which can dress up any assortment of greens and raw veggies in moments.

Try it in this simple cider vinaigrette.

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Emily Monaco
Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.