Photo credit: Incase
As summer fades and the colder months approach, it’s the perfect time to address the catastrophe that is the kitchen pantry. If your house is like mine, the pantry has great potential but often falls short of the food stockpile that I’d like it to be. I too often forget to reload the staples that I use throughout the week and end up with nothing but stale cookies, dry pasta, and a few cans of mandarin oranges on the shelves. During the summer when fresh produce is readily available, the pantry is forgotten in favor of the fridge. But a well stocked pantry in the colder months will make meal prep so much easier and will help you avoid the grocery store crush that inevitably happens before each winter storm.
Here are some essentials to keep on those pantry shelves:
Beans - a few different varieties to keep things interesting. I prefer kidney, black, garbanzo, and white.
Tomatoes - diced and whole. I prefer canned tomatoes without spices. They’re more versatile, and you can always add spices later.
Chicken broth - the low sodium variety
Pasta sauce - again, a few different varieties. Don't forget a cream-based sauce like Alfredo or vodka.
Olives - black and green. Get some kalamata if you’re feeling fancy.
Tuna and salmon
Fruits and vegetables (bonus if you canned them yourself!)
Pasta - all shapes and sizes
Rice - brown, long grain white, Arborio
Oats - the old-fashioned kind for baking and for breakfast
Couscous - I prefer Israeli couscous because it’s larger and more hearty
Flour - all purpose as well as one or two specialty varieties
Panko - these breadcrumbs are so much more hearty and flavorful than the regular variety
Oils - olive, peanut, coconut, canola
Vinegar - white, balsamic, apple cider
Herbs - thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill
Spices - chili powder, cinnamon, curry, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander, allspice
A few pantry tips:
- Always rotate your pantry goods when restocking. Older items should be pulled forward on the shelves and newer items should be placed behind them.
- Organizing by meal is a great way to have quick grab-and-go meals ready. I have a Mexican and Italian section in my pantry because those are two meals that we eat regularly.
- Your pantry doesn’t have to be filled with pretty glass jars and customized containers. An organized pantry is far more important than a pretty pantry. Label shelves and sections as needed but don’t feel like you have to splurge on special containers.
- If you use it, add it to the grocery list for next week. This way you will constantly be replenishing your pantry and you’ll never find yourself out of an essential ingredient.