6 Essential Pantry Ingredients and 3 Surprising Ways to Use Them

One mom shares her six pantry must-haves, plus her favorite recipes for putting those goods to work.

By: Foodlets

As the mom of four kids under age 6, I’ve found the secret to stocking a useful pantry: Every item needs to be versatile. From breakfast to lunch and snacks through dinner, my favorite pantry items can be used over and over again in totally different ways.

Old-Fashioned (Whole) Oats: I buy the generic store brand. While we make our share of oatmeal in the morning — three minutes in the microwave, then drenched in whole milk and sprinkled with chia seeds and dried fruit — there’s so much more!

Raisins: Sure, they’re great as a snack straight up, but raisins are so good in so many other kid-friendly ways, like these:

Honey: Consider honey for everything from a drizzle on top of plain yogurt to start the day to dinner’s secret ingredient. It is stocked in my pantry always.

Dinner: Apple Honey Drumsticks from Food Network Magazine

Potatoes: Whether they’re russets, Yukon golds or babies, potatoes can become almost anything, anytime of day.

Breakfast: Giada De Laurentiis’ Salami, Bacon and Spinach Hash

Brunch or Dinner: Ina Garten's Potato Latkes

Quinoa: The beauty of this seed is how fast it cooks, not to mention how that built-in pop of protein ensures a hearty dinner, even if you forgot to thaw the chicken. It’s an excellent base for baby food and works in tons of other family favorites:

Breakfast or snack: DIY Fruit Bars with Quinoa

Dinner: Guy Fieri’s Turkey-and-Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Marinara Sauce: Yes, marinara sauce is typically limited to dinner, but, boy, are the options wide open from there. A few of our kids' favorites:

The Pioneer Woman’s Easy Calzones

Charity Curley Mathews blogs at Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. Like Foodlets on Facebook and you’ll never miss a post.

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