When it’s cold and rainy outside, we don’t always feel like cooking. But instead of the temptation of getting takeout, why not stock your pantry properly? This way, you can throw out expired food items and stock staples that will make your cooking easier.

Before you start, it’s out with the old and in with the new. See this first step as ‘spring-cleaning’ for your pantry. Discard old expired spices and sauce packets and make sure that there are no weevils in your flour or grain buckets. If there are food items you don’t plan on using (non-perishable, of course), you can always donate it to your local food bank.

The Top Must-Have Food Items

Canned foods are perfect for wintery dishes. Canned tomato for pasta bakes, canned beans for chilis, and even lentils (perfect for vegetarians). Another must-have item is canned tuna – perfect for a quick weeknight casserole, tuna pasta, or tuna melts!

You should also stock up on frozen vegetables, like peas, corn, and carrots. In this way, you don’t need to worry about spoiled vegetables, and you will always have something on hand. It’s convenient to add diced frozen veg to a casserole, pasta, or stew. Not only does it look colorful, but you boost the nutrition too! Use your freezer to store other foods like meat, sliced bread, and even cheese. Grate cheese before freezing it, which will make it easier to use.

It goes without saying that you should stock a wide variety of grains and pasta. What would winter meals be without a decent amount of carbohydrates? Use these carbs to stretch casseroles – it makes for a super-satisfying meal!

Keep a few staple sauces in your refrigerator. BBQ sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce is sometimes all you need to take your dinner to the next level.

A final tip is to always keep a pack of chopped bacon in your freezer. Whenever you need something smoky and meaty for your dish, simply add bacon!

What’s your favorite food for winter?