The Well-Stocked PantryMay 19, 2022
Have you ever gone to plan out meals for the week, and the pantry is full of strange one-off ingredients? These can be from recipes that were made once or impulse purchases that looked interesting at the time -- but what they have in common is that we often forget about them and they go to waste.
So what should we keep in the pantry to maximize our ability to meal plan and cater to our cooking needs? Let's chat about some of the best staples to keep on hand.
1) Grains can be an excellent base for many recipes and are always very filling. These also come in handy when you're serving a crowd. The most nutritionally dense grains are a bag of brown rice, quinoa, oats, and bulgur. These will give you an assortment to choose from. The hands down favorite grain pasta is great to keep on hand for occasional meals and can be bought in a varieties like whole-grain or gluten-free (brown rice).
2) An array of frozen or canned/jarred goods. Tomatoes, beans, beets, pumpkin, peas, roasted red peppers in water, greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots -- the list goes on. Look at the label and make sure there’s no to minimal sodium. Whatever you and your household enjoys, keep a few stored away in the pantry or freezer. You never know when you'll need it. Frozen or shelf-stable vegetables are a good way to keep costs down while enjoying produce during cooler months. Anything you'd add to a delicious vegetable soup can be stored in the pantry/freezer, and you have a quick meal always on deck.
3) Condiments and seasonings. One of the more time-consuming and expensive pantry shelves to stock is the one that holds everything that makes a recipe pop. Seasonings, spices, vinegars, nut butter, and sauces (like soy sauce, salsa, mustard, hot sauce, etc). It can take time to figure out what flavor profiles you most enjoy and what you use most often, but as you continue to cook, this collection will become unique to you.
4) Snacks and extras. These are going to be things that may be considered snacks or drinks. Top picks are dried fruits and nuts, popcorn and crackers (I'm loving Trader Joe's rice crackers right now), cocoa powder, loose tea, and anything else that you might crave in a pinch.
When it comes to keeping a stocked pantry, knowing what you have at any given time is essential. If you want an extensive plant-based pantry list, here’s mine. You can laminate it and used it for years with a dry erase marker. It really helps me have what I need on hand for meal prep. Once you check off what you need, you can snap a pic with your phone to bring to the store.
It may take a bit to find a system that allows for keeping a stocked pantry, but after you've enjoyed the ease of this method, you will never go back to haphazard grocery runs.
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