Category Archives: Better Pantry

build your own salad

Build Your Own Salad

Are you tired of trying to make sure your family eats enough veggies? Salads can be a fun, tasty, and budget-friendly way to add more vegetables into your family’s meals. The great part about salads is that you can choose your family’s favorite foods. This may include leftovers from last night’s dinner, or items you find in your #Better Pantry. 

Step 1: Choose a Base

The first step is to choose the base of your salad. For a green salad, romaine lettuce, spring greens, or spinach make a perfect base. For a heartier salad, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, potatoes, or other grains also make a great base. Choose 2 cups for greens and 1 cup of grains per person.

Step 2: Choose a Couple Vegetables

Add about 1 cup of vegetables per person. Choose different veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, or cucumbers. This is where you can personalize your salad so choose veggies that your family will enjoy. Another good idea is to choose veggies that are in season. Seasonal produce can offer better taste, nutrition, and price. Make sure to check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce as well!

Step 3: Choose a Protein

Add a protein food to help turn your side salad into the main dish. Protein options include grilled chicken, black beans, or hard boiled eggs. Making a salad is a great way to use leftover meat from last night’s dinner, or you can just grab a can of beans or canned tuna from your #BetterPantry.

Step 4: Add Additional Toppings

This is where you can get creative and make it to your tastes. Additional toppings may include reduced-fat shredded cheese, fresh or dried fruit, or crunchy nuts or seeds. This is also where your family’s favorites can really come into play. Get your kids in the kitchen and have them help choose the toppings.

Step 5: Choose a Low-Fat Dressing

Finish your salad with low-fat dressing, but be sure to check the ingredients label for added sugar. You can also make an easy, simple dressing using ingredients from your #BetterPantry. Combining 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper taste makes a great and easy vinaigrette that can be used for many different salads. Just store in an air-tight jar in the fridge and shake it up before using. Another easy vinaigrette recipe can be found here.

Follow these simple steps to you build your own #BetterPantry salad.

build your own salad

sandwich wrap

Personalized Wraps Using Your Better Pantry

In today’s busy world, it can be hard to make quick, low-cost meals. When you use foods you already have in your pantry that save time and money. Wraps are a great meal to eat at home or on the go. Mix and match your ingredients and follow these steps to create tasty, budget-friendly meals for you and your family!

Pick your wrap. You can choose from flour, corn, or wheat tortillas or other options like pita or a large leaf of lettuce. Whole wheat grain is a better choice than white wraps and are high in fiber.

Pick a protein. Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, and fish are a great way to get the protein you need to power through your day. Other lean protein options include tofu, beans, pork, and beef. When choosing protein options choose those with less salt.

Add cheese. Cheese has calcium that keeps bones and teeth strong. It can be shredded or sliced. Cheese adds flavor to your wrap. Whether it is cheddar, swiss, or any cheese you like, you can choose reduced-fat options to keep the wrap lower in saturated fat while having great taste!

Add the veggies. Vegetables come in all flavors and colors. Choosing a variety of colorful veggies can help you make a tasty wrap that is packed with vitamins and minerals. Peppers give your wrap extra kick and spice. While veggies such as carrots, spinach, or cucumbers give it a crunch without adding too much extra flavor. Adding tomatoes or other juicy veggies give each bite extra moisture. Add flavors and colors to your wrap to pack it with taste and nutrients.

Add the sauce. Whether it’s your favorite salad dressing, condiment, or anything in between, adding a sauce gives your wrap flavor and helps hold it all together. Some common sauces you may have in your pantry are low-fat ranch dressing, hot sauce, Sriracha sauce, or vinaigrettes.

Better Pantry build your own sandwich wrap

pasta recipe

Build Your Own Pasta Dish

Recipes can be hard to follow and take a lot of time. Recipes leave you with ingredients that are hard to use again, too. Keep staple ingredients on hand and build a #BetterPantry that will save you time and money. Remembering just a few simple tips will help you make quick and tasty meals. For example, pasta dishes can be a quick, healthy and budget-friendly way to make a dinner that the whole family will love.  

Step 1: Use your favorite whole wheat pasta shapes to make dinner more exciting! Elbows, spaghetti, penne and bowties all taste great and are fun for kids to eat!

Step 2: Pick a protein. Stick to lean proteins such as ground turkey, chicken or lean beef. For a vegetarian or vegan option use tofu, edamame or beans. Vegetarian proteins also add extra fiber to your meal!

Step 3: Add color, flavor and nutrients to your pasta with vegetables. Peppers, onions, spinach, kale, broccoli and carrots are all great options. Having frozen or low-sodium canned vegetables can be helpful in building your #BetterPantry.

Step 4: Finish off your pasta dish with a sauce that will add flavor and bring everything together. For warm pasta dishes, tomato-based sauces taste great and are low in fat. For cold pasta dishes, try using your favorite salad dressings.

Add extra flavor to your pasta by mixing in and topping with parmesan cheese, nuts or fresh herbs and spices.

Building your #BetterPantry can help you make tasty dishes that are quick and easy! Pasta dishes are fun to build out of a few simple ingredients that you already have. They also make great leftovers, so don’t be afraid to make extra for the week. Now that you know the secret to creating a meal that everyone will love, you will never have to stress about dinner after a busy day!

pasta recipe

making omelets

Egg-cellent Omelets


Omelets are a tasty, budget-friendly, and easy meal your entire family will enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Use ingredients you have on hand from your fridge and pantry to make a meal that matches your family’s taste preferences. Simply pair with fresh fruit, and you have a balanced breakfast, lunch, or dinner to serve your family in less than 10 minutes! #BetterPantry

Steps:

Eggs:

Only two eggs from your refrigerator are needed for each omelet! All you have to do is add about 1 tablespoon of water to the eggs and use a whisk or fork to beat the eggs together.

Protein (optional):

Eggs are a great source of protein, but adding more protein is a great way to fill you and your children up. You can add a ¼ cup of leftover meat from your dinner the night before, such as chicken, or you can add canned beans that are already in your pantry!

Veggies:

You can use any vegetables that you already have on hand, and match your family’s taste preferences. About 1 cup of whichever cooked vegetables your family likes is a perfect amount to add in for each omelet!

Cheese (optional):

A sprinkle or two of shredded cheese of your choice!

Now that you understand the many different ingredients that can go into an omelet, check out some of our omelet recipes! You can completely follow these recipes or use ingredients that are already in your pantry or refrigerator!

Veggie-packed omelet

2 eggs

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

1 Tbsp water

1 handful or ¼ cup of onion, chopped and sauteed in olive oil

1 handful or ¼ cup of red pepper, chopped and sauteed in olive oil

1 handful or ¼ cup of frozen spinach and sauteed in olive oil

1 handful or ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese

Southwest omelet

2 eggs

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

1 Tbsp water

1 handful or ½ cup canned tomatoes, diced

1 handful or ½ cup canned corn

1 handful or ¼ cup jack cheese

Do you make omelets for your family? What is your favorite omelet recipe? What is your child’s favorite omelet? Let us know in the comments!

Find more resources at:

http://blogs.ext.vt.edu/eatsmart-movemore/

breakfast casserole recipes

Build Your Own Breakfast Casserole

It is easy to prepare a healthy breakfast for your whole family! Breakfast can be simple and budget friendly by combining four food types to build your own casserole! Add protein, veggies, cheese, and your family’s favorite herbs and spices to eggs to make a tasty casserole. Casseroles can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator or freezer to make your mornings simpler. Using leftover meats from dinner and frozen veggies also helps to keep both time and costs down.

Start with your proteins: Start with a base of around 8 eggs. Eggs are budget-friendly and a great source of protein. Then, use lean proteins like chicken breast, ground turkey, turkey bacon, low-fat beef, or beans. This is a great opportunity to use leftover meats from dinner the night before.

Moving onto veggies: Use what vegetables you already have on hand. Spinach, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms all add color, flavor, and nutrients to the dish. Switch between fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables to fit your pantry and preferences.

Add cheeses: Try reduced-fat cheeses to keep it healthier. Mozzarella, cheddar, and feta are all great additions.

Choose herbs and spices: Pick flavors you know your family enjoys! Basil, garlic, thyme, and a little salt and pepper go a long way in making your casserole tasty.

It is so easy to make a casserole tailored to your family’s taste buds! Get the kids involved in helping choose ingredients and making the dish. Kids are more likely to eat food that they have helped to make. Our casserole featured eggs, turkey bacon, peppers, broccoli, cheddar cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Our other casserole featured eggs, leftover chicken, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and garlic. Refrigerate your casserole after it cools for up to 5 days. Or freeze and microwave until heated for a quick and easy meal for next week. A great tip is to freeze it in individual portions or make smaller portions using a muffin tin. Mornings can be hectic, but breakfast does not have to be stressful anymore. For other simple breakfast ideas head to:  http://blogs.ext.vt.edu/eatsmart-movemore/2017/02/09/quick-and-easy-breakfast-ideas/