There's a difference between having a well stocked pantry and only being able to eat from it exclusively. When your fridge is bare (aside from a few stray condiments) after returning home from vacation you might find yourself in exactly that position. Here's a few things we always have on hand and how we put them to use:
1. Olives: They can be stored in your pantry or fridge without any worry of going bad, but depending on the olives you choose, you can have a wide range of tastes.
2. Frozen Baguettes: We've mentioned before that they freeze easily and can be popped into the oven for some fresh smells and warm tastes, perfect for pairing with any sort of tapenade your pantry can provide.
3. Pasta: After you've boiled your noodles any combination of pantry staples can be tossed in to create a lovely meal. Try corn, artichoke hearts, olives, even pepperoni!
4. Casserole: If you had time to think ahead, using up left over meats and cheese from your refrigerator (before leaving for vacation) can prepare a quick and easy meal to thaw and reheat upon your return.
5. Popcorn: Growing up Sunday night was often popcorn night. A family tradition passed along through the years, we just couldn't get enough (well actually we could, but you know what we mean). It can be a light snack, full meal or even turned into caramel corn if you're needing a sweet treat.
6. Good Chocolate: When on vacation we often splurge a bit when it comes to indulgent foods. Try stocking your pantry with a few really great bars of chocolate to help curb the desire for sweets or something rich and luxurious.
7. Tuna & Sardines: Try tuna from the vacuum seal pouches and a good sardine in a can. They're shelf stable proteins that can top toast, or be added to pasta.
8. Canned Harvested Foods: One of our favorite things to come home to are the goods we canned up over the past year. Freshly bottled peaches, yes please!
9. Frozen Soup Starter: An easy way to clean out the little leftover bits of celery, onion or carrot that are hanging out in your fridge before you leave is to give them a quick dice and freeze them (you can caramelize them first if you wish). You'll have the perfect soup starter to help feed yourself on beans and other canned goods from your pantry.
10. Beans: Beans and weenies, chili, soup — you name it, beans have your back. Cans are easier (no soaking required) but bagged and dry is fine as well.