stocking the kitchen: pantry

1 Mar

I am very fortunate to have awesome in-laws. Brette’s parents and two brothers are terrific and I love that they are my family. I’m even more fortunate that Brette’s brother married an awesome woman. Those boys have impeccable taste in women. It is so much fun to have a fellow “outlaw” around.

This was already two years ago. Boy, would I love to be in FL right now.

Melissa has recently taken on a change in her eating habits. She’s limiting her processed foods and sugar and adding more produce, nuts and grains. We’ve been facebook chatting a lot about different foods, recipe ideas, and grocery shopping. She asked me what my staple foods are. Meaning, what foods do I always have on hand. This is a great question. A well stocked kitchen is key for those nights where a trip to the grocery store just isn’t going to happen, and you’d rather not order a pizza.  I always have staples on hand for those types of nights. Brette would probably argue that our kitchen is to well stocked. (I’m not sure if that’s possible. I mean, what if I’m stuck in the house during a blizzard for 12 days?)

So, I thought I’d share with you some of the things I always have on hand. Not just in the pantry, but in my fridge and freezer as well. This is going to be a series of posts over the next couple of weeks on stocking your kitchen.

Today we’ll be focusing on the pantry. My lovely super organized pantry! Yes, it still actually looks like this. Go me. Here’s what I keep in it.

  • bulk grains – I always have a variety; brown rice, whole wheat couscous, quinoa, millet, polenta and bulgur are currently in stock. Buying them in bulk is so much cheaper. I store them in mason jars.
  • lentils and beans – I have both canned and dried beans, but I definitely use the canned ones more. I love lentils and typically buy the french green variety and red lentils. Again, I buy them in bulk. Beans and lentils are a great protein source and you can do a lot with them.
  • canned tomatoes – I can my own in the summer, but I also like having a few smaller cans of the fire-roasted variety on hand for soups, chilis and stews. I also make sure to have tomato paste and sauce. I use paste in a lot of my soups and sauces. And one must have sauce on hand for homemade pizza!
  • pasta – I typically have a few varieties of pasta (mostly whole wheat). This is almost always Brette’s go-to if I’m gone.
  • vinegars and oils – I’m a bit of a vinegar junky, but I love using different ones with olive oil for salad dressings. I don’t purchase ready-made dressing anymore because it’s expensive, full of unprouncables, and just not as good. As for oils, I always have extra virgin olive oil, canola oil (better for high heat cooking), coconut oil, and likely some type of dipping oil that made it’s way into my cart.
  • spices – I use quite a few different spices and find they add a lot to dishes. My most used are cumin, oregano, curry powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, coriander and red pepper flakes.
  • nuts and seeds – I almost always have some mixed nuts on hand in case we entertain or just for a quick snack. I also typically have walnuts, almonds and sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds jazz up a salad pretty quickly. The walnuts are a must for Brette’s favorite granola.
  • oatmeal supplies – yes, this deserves it’s own category. I eat oatmeal almost every day, plus I go through a ton of oats in aforementioned granola. I buy both the regular rolled oats and thin cut oats (for microwave situations). Again, buy in bulk. Oats are freaky cheap. In addition, I have canned pumpkin (for pumpkin oats of course), cinnamon, chia seeds and cocoa nibs.
  • baking supplies – I don’t bake as much as I’d like  (cuz I have no ‘off’ button on baked goods), but I do keep all the essentials on hand – a variety of flours (all-purpose, cake, whole wheat pastry flour and regular whole wheat), sugars (regular, powdered and brown), baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, cocoa powder, and various baking chocolates.
  • dried fruit – again, this gets used in granola, but it also can add some fun to salads or mix with nuts for a quick snack. I almost always have cranberries, raisins and cherries.
  • the other category – coconut milk (curries, soups, etc.), and panko breadcrumbs (I know much prefer these over regular)


What do you stock your pantry with? Do you always have certain things handy for those last minute meals?


5 Responses to “stocking the kitchen: pantry”

  1. Mellissa March 1, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Oats, Peanut Butter, Nuts, Soup, Pasta, Quinoa, tons of tea and at least one kind of cracker.

  2. Trout Caviar March 1, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Jen, I’m very impressed with your super-organized pantry, and the fact that you actually know what’s in it! Go you, indeed. We always have polenta, dried beans, a few kinds of rice, dried mushrooms, extra condiments for Chinese cooking. And then, I have this little problem with jams, jellies, all kind of preserves–I can’t resist them, but I obviously don’t eat nearly as much of them as I think I do, so my pantry is sort of a museum of preserves, both home-canned and bought at farmers’ markets, etc. What I need to do is go on an all-toast diet for a couple of months….

    Cheers~ Brett

  3. Melissa Hjelle March 1, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    LOVE this! I love my in-laws and love you as well! :) Everyone hopes for a kick-ass sister-in-law and I was blessed with one for sure :).

    Going on a big shopping trip tonight actually… can’t wait! Then I get to organize my pantry which I am excited to do, but I suppose that happens when it’s brand new. Ha. THANKS for all the help.

    Much appreciation from that gal who ate cereal and toast for every meal… ;).

  4. Kristel Poole March 1, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Ever tried to cook at someone else’s house and realized that positively NONE of the things you consider staples are there? That’s happened to me more than a couple times and I’ve been asked about my staples as well. :)

    I’ll probably post about this soon, but my staples mostly include…
    Beans (particularly black beans, but also others)
    Quinoa, cous cous, barley, whole wheat pasta
    Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce, etc
    Nuts (usually at least sunflower seeds, almonds and mixed nuts for ice cream)
    Truvia and cane sugar
    Various rices
    Quinoa flour, wheat flour, cornmeal and panko flakes
    Various Japanese and Thai staples like wasabi powder, mirin, fish sauce, hon-dashi, straw mushrooms, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, etc.)

  5. cheryl March 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Staples: Penzy spices; especially cinnamon, fennel, curry, red pepper flakes which I use in almost everything. Coffee, butter, nuts of all types, parchment paper, milk, fruit, carrots, celery, onions, sour dough bread, vanilla, all tomato products, tuna and miracle whip.

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