Pantry Perk-Up

Do you remember that nursery rhyme about uncooperative Mary? It goes like this:

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.

I don’t know what a cockle shell is and right now my garden is in need of a cleanup, but my pantry is also looking a little bleak. Let’s not be contrary and really get things cooking, shall we? As we get ready for this next season, we need to get down to brass tacks and start cleaning house… and the pantry for that matter!

How’s your pantry looking? Do you have 5 cans of tuna scattered about the cupboard instead of all stacked up together? Can you find cereal boxes here, there, and everywhere? How about your staples, like flour, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch, etc.? Are they grouped together into a baking center or do you have to go on a pantry scavenger hunt to find them all?

Let’s do a little pantry perk-up, shall we? Set your timer for 15 minutes and start getting your dry goods in logical order. Like goes with like. You’ll want a shelf for the canned goods (and put the same things all together, too). A big basket to hold your bags of dried beans, a smaller basket to hold envelopes of spice blends, mixes, etc. (look around the house, I bet you have what you need), and if you haven’t done it already, big containers (I like big glass jars) for your flour, sugars, oatmeal, etc. Putting dried goods like flour etc. into containers will keep the bugs out!

Getting your pantry together will help you get your meal planning in order, too. Don’t forget to declutter your pantry if necessary. Get rid of the stuff you don’t use (donate it to a food bank if it’s good, usable food) and watch your pantry take shape. I want to challenge you to make a meal out of something in there this week!

Here’s a wonderful easy dinner recipe (from one of our low-carb menus) to get you in the mood for a good pantry routing:

Chicken Nicoise

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Servings 4 servings


  • 1 cup dry white wine or use low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1/3 cup frozen pearl onions or you can use the same amount of chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 small red bell pepper deribbed, deseeded and sliced into strips
  • 4 olives per person - use what you like (I prefer Kalamatas)


  • Heat 1/4 cup of the wine (or chicken broth) to boiling in a skillet. Cook chicken in wine, turning once, until brown. Remove chicken and keep warm.
  • Add garlic, onions, olive oil, Italian seasoning, bell peppers, olives and remaining wine (or broth) to skillet and heat till boiling. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken back to the skillet, reducing heat to medium low. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.


Per Serving: 212 Calories; 5g Fat; 27g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 66mg Cholesterol; 117mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat. Points: 4
LC SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve over cauli-rice alongside sauteed green beans. (To make cauli-rice trim cauliflower and cut into piece small enough to feed through food processor tube. Process cauliflower till it is grainy and resembles rice. Steam ‘rice’, and fluff with a fork.)
SERVING SUGGESTION: Add some brown rice instead of Calui-Rice.
VEGETARIANS: Skip the chicken and opt for a Boca Chikin patty or another veggie patty. Cooking time will be less.
KOSHER: None needed.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Now that your pantry is all perked up, let’s make a meal plan and shopping list and get it stocked up for your week!

2 Responses

  1. And metal or glass containers keep out the rodents, too! Though at least things are or will be shortly warming up and they MIGHT go outside. But no sense having a pantry buffet for them.
    Plastic bags don’t keep them out, though cardboard seems to do so. But don’t trust it – we’ve found chewed on TP and Paper towels.

  2. Thanks great idea. Love the mason jar brings back precious memories of mom during canning time every summer.
    God Bless
    Continue to educate and inform we really need it to become and maintain health.

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