Are cupcakes, cookies, and chips the only things in your pantry? (It’s that cupboard in your kitchen where you’re supposed to keep food.) Your pantry is a valuable tool in cooking and eating at home. A well-stocked cupboard makes your life much easier, and allows you to spend less time thinking about what you’re going to eat, and more time eating it.
Before you stock up, ask yourself a few questions. What kind of food do you cook most often? Is there some food you’d like to try? How much space do you have? Answer those few questions, and then move on to building up your capacity.
Spices are the first thing most people think of when they hear “pantry.” Obviously, you need salt and pepper. Your other choices will go back to the questions above. If you make a lot of Italian food (you are making your own sauce, right?) you’ll need basil, oregano, and parsley. Want to try Indian or Jamaican? You’ll need some curry powder. Are you the adventurous type who likes to try new things? Check out the spices in the bulk section of your local store. Get just what you need for a new recipe, without spending a ton of money. Ethnic stores are also a great place to get inexpensive spices.
Grains can bulk up pretty much any meal, stretching a half pound of hamburger and some random veggies to an awesome risotto for six people. They’re also delicious. Make a big batch at the beginning of the week, and your weeknight meals will come together with ease.
A lot of canned goods are pretty gross. I recommend frozen veggies over canned. They have more nutrition, and less sodium. That being said, canned beans and tomatoes make life much easier, and meals much faster. Canned fish is also a potential lifesaver.
Some long lasting produce shouldn’t go in your refrigerator. Potatoes and onions are great to have on hand. Apples and oranges also keep for a long time on the counter. Keeping them out where they’re visible will help you eat more fruit.
Stuff that’s not technically pantry stuff that you should maybe have all the time
Keep frozen veggies around so you never have an excuse not to eat them. A bag of mixed veggies added to spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, or ramen improves its nutritional profile and makes it go farther.
Frozen fruits are picked when they’re ripe, and are great for smoothies and cooked stuff. When it’s hot, you can just eat them out of the bag. Yum.
Basic Pantry List
|Oregano||Fancy grains (farro, millet, etc.)||Anchovies (Try them in salads)||Whole garlic cloves|
|Garlic powder||Dried fruit|
What do you keep in your pantry? Leave a comment below!