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.
My Pantry Necessities
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:
Beverages (coffee, tea, cocoa)
Pepper (black, white, pink, specialty)
Salts (kosher, sea salt, pickling salt, rock salt)
Cream of Tartar
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?