Indie Eatery Shannon and AJ Thompson

Shannon Thompson opened Indie Eatery with her husband, AJ, in 2018.

While doing their part to maintain social distance, home cooks everywhere are honing their skills in the kitchen. Feast consulted with some of St. Louis' finest chefs and business owners for their best advice on how to make easy, wholesome meals using simple pantry staples. Find out how to make the most of your groceries in this Q&A series, which outlines some pro tips for creating nutritious and comforting from-scratch meals, snacks and more.

Shannon Thompson co-owns Indie Eatery – a casual St. Peters, Missouri, brunch eatery that debuted in October 2018 – with her husband, AJ Thompson. Soon, the couple will embark on their next venture by launching a new line of products.

“We are over the moon and proud of our soon-to-be released wellness line of proprietary products we use at Indie Eatery called Fyo͞ozd (fused),” she says. “It’s a line of plant-powered superfood mixes for smoothies, natural herbal tea blends and certified vegan infused simple syrups.”

What are some essential health-forward ingredients you like to always keep on hand? It's a must that I always have lemons and fresh ginger on deck as well as superfood powders like spirulina, maca root, moringa, turmeric, chia seeds and gogi berries.  

How do you like to use these ingredients to add a nutritious element to your food and drinks at home? For me, the best way to incorporate them is in the freshest/tastiest capacity possible – meaning, not as a fully incorporated element but as a finishing element.  

For example, lemon and ginger. I live for a quick egg noodle stir-fry with dark sweet soy sauce, bean sprouts, purple cabbage and cilantro. Once cooked, add a generous portion of young, thinly sliced ginger, zest of the lemon and a little squeeze for the juice! It's the most refreshing, vibrant and simple dish that you can whip up with all of the immune-boosting properties that you need on a daily! 

As far as the superfoods that I love, you can easily get creative with smoothies and tisanes, mix and match and see what your taste buds enjoy most. Then repeat!

What are some time-saving tips you can share on how to optimize your time in the kitchen? Prep has always been my friend. Some things can be done the day prior to you cooking your chosen meal. Make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand – there is nothing more frustrating and time-consuming than having to run back out to the grocery store, especially now.  

Also, don't be afraid to get creative. Creativity can actually save you time! If you plan on following a recipe, just know that it's okay to tweak it. Most times, you'll find that a recipe doesn't have to be followed to the letter.  

What advice can you offer home cooks on how to make a perfect meal to start the day? For the most part, I like to keep my first meal of the day simple and light – something that makes for easy cleanup! I want to enjoy each moment of my day and not be stuck in the kitchen with a counter full of dishes to wash. 

One of my favorite breakfast options is oatmeal with pickled berries in vanilla bean brine and wheat toast sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and a smear of Kerrygold butter, toasted in the oven on broil. It's filling, but light and healthy!

What is a convenient, comforting meal you like to make with pantry staples? An easy, convenient comforting meal for me seems to always fall in the noodles or pasta arena. I always have a variety of pasta noodles in the pantry, so a quick boil to al dente, and then add some olive oil and finely chopped garlic, fresh black pepper, kosher salt, freshly grated Parmesan and basil if you have some. Toss, plate and eat!