Pantry Must-Haves

It's always easier to function when you're prepared, isn't it? We're launching a series called "The FunnySpoon Five" which will include favorite recipes, products, kitchen gadgets, etc. First, we want to help you get prepared ... and stocked up! Take note of these five items every pantry should include and stock up next time you're at the grocery. You'll be happy you did!!

1 - Dried Pasta. Pasta is simple to make. It doesn't matter what shape or color a recipe calls for you can (almost) always substitute in your favorite. We love the Barilla PLUS pasta because it's a multi-grain pasta that's naturally rich in protein, fiber and omega-3s. And tastes just like the pasta we all grew up on (only better for you!). Your family will never know the difference and you can feel even happier about serving a second helping of the beloved Mac & Cheese!

2 - Canned Tomatoes. They are perfect for sauces, soups, stews, casseroles. You name it and a good can of tomatoes can probably add a little zing to your dish. We like to keep a couple of varieties on hand - whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes and paste. That should cover your bases when you're in a jam and need to whip up dinner. One of our personal faves is the Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes - a little heat can transform any boring Tuesday night meal!

3 - Rice. It's the perfect complement to a nice steak, chicken or piece of fish. It’s a key ingredient in many casseroles. It’s perfect for kids. AND you can dress it up just about any way imaginable: Mexican, Asian, Indian or plain old American white rice! We love the Success Boil-in-Bag rice for its simplicity and wide variety of uses. We also love the Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice for the convenience (90 seconds? Music to our ears when we're busy!).

4 - Chicken, beef or vegetable stock. You can add stock to any meal flavor – meat, poultry, pasta, sauces, casseroles, mashed potatoes. Again, stock really helps add flavor and alter the consistency of a dish. Give it a whirl. We always keep a can of Swanson's Chicken Stock and a can of Swanson's Vegetable Stock on hand. It's simple to throw together a quick soup. And perfect when you've got a hectic evening and everyone needs to eat at a different time.

5 - Canned Tuna. As long as you like fish, this is great to have on hand. Salads, sandwiches, patties, pastas, casseroles. Dinner in minutes! We love the Bumblebee Chunk White Albacore Tuna best. It’s high-protein, low-calorie when you get the type that's packed in water. Save those extra calories for chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes!

Up next ... The FunnySpoon Five: Freezer Necessities!

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