Monday, July 27, 2009

The Importance of a Well Stocked Pantry

(Photo courtesy Country Home)

I've always kept a pretty well stocked pantry, even way back when, when I was a young single college grad. My mother always had one as well. My pantry always looks like I'm ready for a natural disaster! This is true, the disaster of having no food around -- which, to me, is a disaster! So when we got home late Saturday night I was not at all worried about needing to rush out to fill the fridge. (We did pick some milk up at a local gas station.) The kids and I are away again for a few days tomorrow and we have everything in the house for a well balanced diet to last a few days! Darling Husband can run out and grab what he needs on an as need basis!

Even in my post-college days I found that if I could stock up on basic items, I would have plenty to get me through when money was tight, until the next pay check. Nowadays I like to have items around because grocery shopping with three kids in tow is about as appealing as a trip to the dentist or gynecologist. And these days everyone is watching their purse strings anyhow.

I often buy canned items when they go on sale and load up. Some items like artichoke hearts and hearts of palm are more expensive, but worth it to have on hand as they add so much to a dish in a last minute pinch. We eat a ton of beans. My kids love garbanzos. We eat them in salads, pastas and make hummus with them. I also love them lightly sauteed in olive oil, garlic powder and salt. The skins get nice and crispy. Yum. We also have pasta. Boxes and boxes. All different shapes and sizes.

Other pantry staples include:

Olives, pitted and black -- my kids love them
Olives, Spanish, green -- great to add to many dishes
Tomato sauce
Tomato Paste
Crushed tomatoes -- the world is your oyster when you have these ingredients!

(Inexpensive) tomato sauce, particularly Hunts. It's cheap. It's cheaper than cheap at $1.00 a can (on sale) and they are so wonderful and hearty and flavorful. They are great for pizzas, pastas and many chicken dishes
Good quality tomato sauce -- we love Rao's
Chick Peas, or garbanzos
Black beans
Small white beans
Dark red kidney beans
Pink kidney beans
Artichoke hearts
Hearts of Palm
Canned Tuna
Canned Salmon
Sun dried tomatoes
Sun dried tomato paste
Pasta, various kinds
Rice, white, brown, wild
Sugar (white)
Sugar (brown)
Nuts, like almonds and walnuts -- great for baking, salads, pasta, etc
Oats (not quick cook)
Chocolate chips
Dried Cranberries
Dried Apricots

Basic Spices should include:
Salt, both sea salt and table salt (Sea salt is a must!)
Garlic Powder
Herbes de Provence
Italian Seasoning
Crushed red pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Curry powder
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Maple Syrup
Peanut butter
Olive oil
Canola oil
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Red wine vinegar
White vinegar
Apple Cider vinegar
Mustard (Dijon, yellow, brown and whatever else you fancy)
Worcestershire Sauce
Soy Sauce (low sodium)
Sesame oil
Anchovies (yes!)

If you happen to have a decent amount of freezer space, stock up on the following:
Frozen pasta
Chicken that has been cut up and trimmed to thaw faster
Sausages, chicken or pork
Breads -- French, English muffins, bagels, pancakes, etc... you have it, freeze it for a later day. Breads freeze wonderfully!
(If you are so lucky to live near a Trader Joe's, their frozen veggies are far more superior to all the others around)
Petite Peas
Haricots Vert (green beans)
In the fridge:
Parmesan Cheese
Packaged shredded cheeses such as cheddar and mozzarella

With these items you can whip up many, many delicious meals. So if you are on a budget and can't hit the grocery store for your fresh leafy greens or have just come home from vacation and don't want to rush immediately out to the store! You'll be amazed by all you can create from the above ingredients!

1 comment:

liz said...

I love your list and agree with all of it! I am forever seaching my pantry and freezer and trying to dream up meals that don't require buying much. I tell myself I'm saving money-- but didn't I buy all the ingredients to stock up my pantry in the first place? Haha. :)

I agree with you about freezer space. I'm a big fan of frozen vegetables, especially here in Alaska where fresh are expensive and mediocre. I am trying to decide if a chest freezer is a worthwhile investment. I've been freezing berries like crazy, so I might need the room just for those!