Food Prep 101 – What Do We Do Now …

April 2, 2020

In this time of uncertainty there are many things that are out of our control. However, we do have some control over providing healthy meals for ourselves and the ones we love, and taking the time to enjoy them around the table together.

During stressful or troubling times, I focus my attention on good food assembly and prep as I prepare meals. I try to take my time preparing meals that will nourish our bodies and raise our spirits.

So, I’m sharing a comprehensive list of pantry supplies that can help you to be able to pull together just about any recipe.

– McLean Executive Chef Karen Pelletier


  • Pasta: all types
  • Potatoes: all types
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Beans: all types
  • Quinoa and /or other grains
  • Chicken stock, beef stock, vegetable stock
  • Soups
  • Jarred or canned tomato sauce
  • Canned diced, crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Canned tuna
  • Oils (olive oil, coconut, vegetable etc)
  • Nut butters
  • Herbs and spices: Chili powder, Lemon pepper seasoning, Cumin, Paprika, Hot chili pepper flakes, oregano, Italian seasoning, powdered ginger, just to name a few
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Dijon mustard
  • Vinegar (red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bread: all types (store some in freezer also)
  • If you like to bake: flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate chip morsels. (fun tasks for kids to bake with you- have a cook off challenge)


We all know fresh fruits and vegetables are not long lasting. You will have to use them within the week, but I still urge you to keep buying and eating fresh fruits and vegetables during this time. Especially your greens!

  • Fresh vegetables; I am stocked with carrots, cucumbers, celery, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers
  • Fresh fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, lemons and limes, whatever you can get
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Protein: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, fish, deli meat


  • Frozen vegetables: green beans, peas, carrots, corn just to name a few
  • Frozen fruits
  • Toaster waffles
  • Frozen rice packs
  • Frozen pizza
  • Frozen readymade meals
  • Frozen cookie dough balls



  • Chili
  • Tomato Soup with grilled cheese
  • Stir fry
  • Pasta with beans and tomatoes
  • Orzo Pasta with Tuna; this works with any type of pasta
  • Easy weeknight or one pot pasta
  • Homemade macaroni and cheese
  • Super Simple Lo Mein
  • Fried Rice
  • A Frittata!
  • Cilantro Lime Rice
  • Skillet Beans and Rice
  • Pasta e fagioli
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Beef and Barley Stew
  • Potato and Leek Soup
  • Four Cheese Risotto
  • White Cheddar Broccoli Rice Casserole
  • Weeknight Pasta with Turkey and Spinach
  • Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta
  • Italian Pasta Bake
  • Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Skillet Lasagna
  • Orecchiette with Corn and Spinach
  • Tortellini Recipe

Enjoy experimenting with new recipes using a variety of ingredients. Be sure to organize your list and plan your meals before you venture out to the market to reduce the time spent there and to cut down on the number of trips you’ll need to take.  Wash your hands and all ingredients thoroughly, according to guidelines the CDC has published.

Involve your family in the process to lessen the stress and include them in your efforts.

Be well. Eat well. And let’s work together to take care of ourselves and each other.

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