Monday, February 11, 2013

7 Foods to Have on Hand in a Storm

A shopping list is an important thing to have in any weather. It saves you money, because if you stick to your list, you don't go for impulse buys of eight jars of pickles that you'll never use just because they were on sale, but it also saves you time if you know exactly what you want. For us compulsive label readers, grocery shopping is time consuming enough without going in totally blind.

But just before a storm is coming, as many of us were reminded this past weekend, a grocery store- never a particularly fun place to be- suddenly turns into a den of panic that feeds off its own fright. Long lines, aisles gridlocked with shopping carts, it isn't a pretty sight. If you absolutely must find yourself in this situation, you want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Here's a list of all the things you need to sneak through the express checkout lane and move on with your life. I'm going to skip the bottled water and flashlight batteries and get right to the fun stuff.

7) Lentils. If you think you don't like lentils, gamble the $1.99 for a bag and give them another try. If one incarnation doesn't do it for you, there are endless other possibilities. They're pretty good at taking on the flavor of what they're cooked with, so as long as you have your favorite spices on hand, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to find a way to make them delicious. My current favorite is lentil sloppy joes. Plus, they have a shelf life of roughly a century, so they're optimal when you're going into survival mode.

6) Rice. Remember last week when I talked up Lundberg Rice? Put this, or any other grain of your choice, together with some lentils and a different spice or sauce every night and you've got about six non-perishable meals for a dollar each.

5) Onions. I just like onions. They're my go-to vegetable for just about everything. You can use them to add flavor to tomato sauce, salad, home fries, or mix them up with the aforementioned lentils and rice.

4) Unrefined Coconut Oil. Coconut oil gives what you're cooking a subtle hint of summeriness, and who doesn't need that when hunkering down during a blizzard? More importantly, it doesn't need to be refrigerated like butter does, and it can be used for cooking or baking. Two for one.

3) Bread. OK maybe this is an obvious one, but if you're going to be stuck with only one kind of bread for as long as it takes to shovel out the eight foot snowbank that used to be your car, you'd better choose wisely. And you want to do it before you get to the bread aisle, 'cuz you can bet that's going to be a particularly crowded one. You'll want a bread that's versatile enough to work for breakfast as French toast, but also to be a bun on your lentil sloppy joes, and has dunkability if you opt to make soup with your lentils, onions, rice and whatever else is around the house. You've got your bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer to make broth with, right?

2) Eggs. Eggs bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner. You can make up an omelette or French toast, sure, but you can also mix them up with some chopped vegetables for egg fried rice, make egg salad sandwiches, or, of course, use them in baking!

1) Maple Syrup. Again I'm going for versatility here. A must at breakfast time, maple syrup can also be used as a substitute sweetener in other aspects of cooking and baking. Or put the snow to good use and make taffy.

What else helped you get through the storm? What do wish you had had that you'll make sure to grab next time?

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