6 Pantry Essentials This Cookbook Author Swears by for Easy Winter Meals

A snow day definitely calls for soup.

You have every intention to leave the house and be productive on your day off—but then Alexa informs you of the current temp and hibernation instinct kicks in.

But if you’re prepared for it, spending the day (or, uh, weekend) inside is perfectly okay. You can do your shopping online, stream a workout from your tablet, and—as long as your kitchen is stocked with the essentials—master every meal like a top chef.

“When it's cold outside I don't want to leave the house, so it's super important to have a kitchen stocked with healthy delicious foods and essentials,” says Jenné Claiborne, the chef behind buzzy blog (and upcoming cookbook) Sweet Potato Soul.

“When I can quickly throw together a hearty winter meal, I'm far less likely to have something like popcorn for dinner.”

Filling your pantry with better-for-you items will help you avoid nutrition pitfalls that come with opting for takeout or scavenging for junk food, says Claiborne. “When I can quickly throw together a hearty winter meal, I'm far less likely to have something like popcorn for dinner.”

The items that Claiborne keeps front-and-center in her winter pantry include Imagine® soups and broths, most importantly because they have options made with organic and whole ingredients. “I eat the Imagine® Creamy Tomato soup and serve it with a salad and toasted sourdough bread,” she says. “It’s the perfect winter meal.”

Keep reading to see the other pantry essentials Claiborne relies on every winter.

Photo: Jenné Claiborne

Imagine® Low-Sodium Organic Vegetable Broth

This is a crucial pantry item for Claiborne because it’s so versatile. It contains no artificial preservatives, and Claiborne employs it for many kinds of uses. “I love using this Imagine® broth to cook my grains, beans, and soups,” she notes. “I even use it to replace oil when I sauté vegetables.”

Photo: Thinkstock/Karisssa


“Farro is one of my favorite grains because it is so filling, chewy, tasty, and easy to make,” shares the healthy chef. She incorporates the ancient grain into soups, uses it as a risotto, and even tosses it into winter salads. Bonus: The complex carb is full of fiber, high in protein, and is a good source of nutrients like vitamin B3, iron, and magnesium.

Photo: Thinkstock/Karisssa

Black Lentils

“These are my favorite type of lentils,” Claiborne says. “When cooked, they hold their shape and firmer texture.” The foodie expert prefers to use them like beans by adding them to veggie burgers, salads, and soups. And they come in handy if you’re cooking under a time crunch: Unlike beans, they don’t require a pre-soak and can be ready in under 20 minutes.

Photo: Stocksy/Canan Czemmel

Sweet Potatoes

Since her website and upcoming cookbook are named after this root vegetable, it’s no surprise that sweet potatoes are Claiborne’s favorite food. “I literally use them for everything,” she admits. “All winter long I'll use them in pancakes, soups, salads, veggie roasts, desserts, and everything in between.”

Photo: Thinkstock/Eising


Claiborne places mushrooms in the top five of her favorite foods. “They're so delicious, full of texture, and nutritious,” she says. The flavorful fungi are good sources of protein, potassium, and iron. “ My favorite ways to eat mushrooms are in a risotto and pasta, or simply roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt.”

Imagine tomato soup
Photo: Pexels

Imagine® Creamy Tomato soup

Imagine tomato soup

“Even though it's important to me to always have a pantry stocked with raw and dry ingredients, I also like to havesome pre-made meals and soups available,” Claiborne says.

Her go-to? Imagine® Creamy Tomato soup, which checks off all her boxes: The vegan soup is packed with organic, fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh-from-the-farm herbs, and Claiborne likes to pair it with a simple mushroom panini. "That combo takes me back to my college days," she says. It’s a hearty, easy-to-make meal that’s perfect for snowy days when the Apple TV is more appealing than the kitchen. 

In partnership with Imagine®

Top photo: Jenné Claiborne


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