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Sandra Lee: Success Starts in the Pantry

Food Network host Sandra Lee says it doesn't have to be hard to feed your family and save money, too.



THE PERFECT PANTRY Eating well and staying within a budget is difficult. Food Network host Sandra Lee says it doesn’t have to be hard to feed your family and save money, too. In today’s fast-paced environment, more families than ever are forced to feed the family fast – with expensive take out, or with a home-cooked meal that takes hours to shop for and prepare. Sandra’s recipes are created to save time. The secret is her pantry list. Stock your shelves. “When you pack your cupboards with a variety of convenience foods and pantry staples, dinner will be a snap every night,” Sandra says. Keep things like olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts in the fridge. Add them to salads and omelets for extra flavor. In the pantry, keep pasta, rice, couscous, marinara, broth and salad dressings. Basil pesto is one item every pantry should have. Stir it into pasta, salads, and sauces. It’s also a great spread for crusty bread. Some other items are bread crumbs, jarred sauces and balsamic vinegar. Items to keep in the freezer include meatballs, frozen vegetables, onions and mashed potatoes. Sandra has five perfect pantry shortcuts: Stock your pantry well. Simply add a protein and fresh vegetable to pantry staples and create a wholesome meal in minutes. Choose double duty foods. Olives, pickles, pearl onions, pineapples, cherries and peaches serve as a flavor enhancer as well as food garnish. Think small. Buy good quality herbs and spices in the smallest containers. Date and alphabetize them on a rack inside the door. Discard after six months. Get milk. Evaporated milk has 60% less water. Swap it for regular milk to make a dish richer. Powdered milk is thrifty for cooking. Group like with like. Store flour, sugar and shortening with sweet spices in one area; savory spices, sauces and marinades in another. Stack food on risers in clear airtight containers so you won’t waste time searching for ingredients. Whatever the occasion, the building blocks for a wonderful meal are right on your own shelves. “Family dinners are a wonderful time to celebrate triumphs, share disappointments, laugh together pass on values, instill good eating habits and manners and strengthen conversation skills,” Sandra says. You can turn any dish into a full-course meal by adding some quick side dishes and desserts. Use bagged salad mix, canned or frozen vegetables. Stir in butter, basil, parsley or thyme. The deli case at the supermarket has delicious side options like coleslaw, pasta, bean and potato salads. Make a different side dish every night by trying things like stuffing mixes, quick-cooking rice, refrigerated pastas or frozen French fries. SEMI-HOMEMADE Sandra is an internationally acclaimed home and style expert. Her Emmy-nominated television show, Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee, airs on the Food Network. She has written 14 books. Her recipes have revolutionized the way people think about creating food from scratch. With her trademark 70/30 philosophy, she combines 70% ready-made products with 30% fresh and creative touches. She allows anyone to take 100% of the credit for something that looks, feels and tastes as if it were made completely from scratch. As a guest on The 700 Club, Sandra prepared Pork Marsala, Citrus Snapper with Orange Relish Sauce, Vegetable with Lemon Sauce and Pears with Chantilly Cream. She has made the recipes for these dishes available to you, used with permission from her cookbook, Fast-Fix Family Favorites: Semi-Homemade Healthy Holiday Meals.


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