Stocking Your Pantry for Home Cooking: The Basics

fennel seeds
If you’ve ever started dinner only to realize that you’re out of one thing or another, then you’ll know how easy it is to give up on dinner and just head for the nearest eating establishment. I mean, you’re going out anyway, right? A well-stocked pantry is one of the first keys to successful home cooking.

Why Stock Your Pantry?

::As I stated before, having ingredients on hand means you’re less likely to run to the nearest fast food chain, order takeout, pizza or go out for dinner in general. It’s amazing what simply having the necessary ingredients available can do for your mealtime habits.

::A well-stocked pantry makes grocery shopping easier. When you plan a meal, only having to buy the building blocks of the meal (meat, vegetables and other fresh ingredients) and not every herb, sauce or tablespoon-sized ingredient makes it easier and more cost effective. Having those things on hand saves you money at the store because you can stock up on pantry items when they are on sale, and you can also plan your meals around meat and produce sales as well. Plus, not having to buy as much when you walk into the store makes it take less time, and a little extra time is something most of us could use.

::It’s better for your health and the health of your family to cook at home from scratch. As I mentioned recently in my post on Complete Organizing Solutions, having your pantry stocked so that you’re cooking more from home and from scratch is the first step to a healthier you. Prepackaged food items contain preservatives and additives that have no business in your food or your body, and the benefits of a home-cooked meal over a fast food one are fairly obvious: You control the amount of salt, fat, sugar that goes into everything, and you control where it came from. Simply eating real food goes a long way in improving your overall diet.

wheat flour

My Pantry Necessities

Basics:
Flours (unbleached white, wheat, rice, cake, almond)
Sugars (brown, cane or beet, powdered, turbinado or demerara)
Dry Pastas (a few different shapes and sizes)
Grains (couscous, rice, barley, quinoa, oats, flax, cornmeal)
Oils (olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, sesame oil)
Vegetables (onions, potatoes, garlic)
Canned/Jarred Tomatoes (sauce, diced, stewed, paste)
Nut Butter (peanut, almond, hazelnut)
Spreads (jam, jelly)
Natural Sweeteners (honey, maple syrup)
Vinegars (balsamic, white, red wine, apple cider, rice wine)
Specialty Sauces (hot sauce, Tabasco, oyster sauce, mirin, rice wine, soy sauce)
Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, coconut)
Dried Fruit (raisins, apricots, dates, cranberries, cherries)
Dried Beans and Lentils (black, navy, pinto, kidney, red, green)
Specialty Items (artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives)

Herbs and Spices:
Oregano
Basil
Parsley
Rosemary
Dill
Cumin
Bay Leaves
All Spice
Cardamom
Celery Seeds
Ground Mustard
Spice Blends
Beverages (coffee, tea, cocoa)
Pepper (black, white, pink, specialty)
Salts (kosher, sea salt, pickling salt, rock salt)

For Baking:
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Cornstarch
Cream of Tartar
Cocoa Powder
Chocolate Chips or Chunks
Extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, peppermint)


This list is not all-inclusive, obviously, and it may differ based on your family’s likes and dislikes, dietary reasons or other factors. What do you have on hand in your pantry?

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Comments

  1. Love the post. I have an Asian section in my pantry too: Asian ingredients like soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, red chili garlic sauce, rice noodles, etc. These items easily mix in with all the other ingredients. Oh! And always chicken stock. ;-)
    .-= Anna – Penny Sophisticate´s last blog ..Anna’s Bean Soup – No Joke, It’s GOOD =-.

  2. Anna–Where do you get your rice noodles? I love to make pad thai at home but I’m having trouble finding rice noodles! BTW, love the ideas for a stocked pantry. Working on my kitchen right now.

  3. My list of pantry basics is pretty darn close to yours with the exception of cream soups. I try to keep a make-your-own mix on hand to use in their place. I did a post on it several months ago if you’re interested.

    http://3blondesandthelaw.blogspot.com/2009/08/make-your-own-cream-soup-mix.html
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..menu plan monday ~ the restaurant copy cat edition =-.

  4. Usually I just skim through these blogs and only read ones that -jump- out at me and yours did. Thanks for it – it is actually a real good read! Do you have a subcribe area so I can link to it to read again another day? Let me know – thanks.

    Hannah

  5. Hi – thanks for the post. I never know what I will come across when I scroll these blogs. But just wanted to let you know I really liked yours. Keep it up.

    Jaqueline

  6. This is a great post. I don’t have a “pantry” so I never really think of having a well stocked pantry, but I ended up having almost everything on your list ~ as well as the asian ingredients people have mentioned. :) YAY!! I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday 3-15 =-.

  7. hey there, i liked reading your post, i just used the websiteSwap my Seeds, as a way of giving away my unused bagonia seeds. Anyone know what I can sell them for? I have maybe 500 seeds left.

  8. I love that I have most of what is on your list. I’ve always wondered when others think it’s odd that I keep all this stuff on hand. But, I have a husband and son with numerous food allergies, so I cook all the time. Thanks for the good ideas!

  9. Great post. My kitchen cupboard is very close to yours and I am sure many of us in foodieland. I used to try and keep my spice cubby organized into food types like Asian and Italian, but honestly it is not working out that way and I have to go hunting all the time. That’s OK! I like to dig for treasure! I am constantly adding spices to my cubby and in order to not let them go bad I find any excuse to cook! Great info post!

    Thanks!

  10. Earlier this year, I decided that gardening would be a fun and wholesome project for our family. Little did I know that it would lead to a whole new way of life for me.

    It was almost surreal to be seeing the whole experience through the kids’ eyes. Every day when they would get home from school they would ask about the garden, and be ready to water it and tend to it.

    I loved the idea of growing my own herbs and spices, and they grow so fast… I found some spice jars at a garage sale and snatched up about 50 of them for $1.00.

    Now we trim the herbs, dry them, and put them in jars…

    And due to my overgrowing of the fruits and vegetables, we’ve even started canning.

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    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you
    might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site
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