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Cooking FACTS

Stock Up Your Pantry

Stop wasting hours at the store and stock up your pantry!  My family and I just took a trip and it was nice not having to run to the store and end up with a $300+ bill at the cash register.

How do you stop the last minute, EXPENSIVE shopping trips? How to avoid the expensive take out dinners because the pantry is empty?  Build your pantry!  Buy the staples to help whip up meals for your family and friends.  Remember, some of these pantry items have a long shelf life so it’s ok to store it. Remember to rotate your items by checking expiration dates and restocking when they are on sale.

Going to the store and buying every ingredient on your recipe takes lots of time.  Buy only the unique items off your recipe list and you’ll save yourself lots of time.  Time is money…this will help you save lots of time!

With that said, what should be in your pantry? What types of cuisine do you like? Here’s a general list of staples I have in my pantry.  Make sure to personalize it to your liking and what your family likes. Also keep in mind allergies and diets within your family.  All these goods come in non-gmo friendly, gluten-free, vegan, fair trade, organic versions, etc.

To stock up your pantry effectively, break up the items into the following categories:

  • Dry goods
  • Sauces and Oils
  • Herbs and Seasonings
  • Fridge Goods
  • Frozen Goods
  • Canned Goods

Category (1) Dry Goods: Great to keep on hand since they have the longest shelf life.  They don’t need to be refrigerated and they could be the base of many meals!  These include:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry beans (black beans, red beans, lentils, garbanzo, split pea)
  • Pasta (lasagna, elbow, penne…or whichever one you like)
  • Rice (Jasmine, Wild Rice, Basmati)
  • Rolled Oats (instant, old fashioned)
  • Sugar (white, brown, powdered)

Fun Fact: buy pure cane sugar as the rest is made with sugar beets that are not good for you…stay tuned for another article on that topic)

  • Corn Starch

Category (2) Sauces and Oils: You need these in almost all recipes and dressing / marinades!

  • Oil (olive oil, coconut oil)
  • Vinegar (red wine, rice, white, apple cider)
  • Soy Sauce (try to buy low sodium versions) – store in fridge after opening!
  • Worcestershire Sauce – store in fridge after opening!
  • Sriracha or Chili Sauce – store in fridge after opening!
  • Honey (local is best!!)

Category (3) Herbs and Seasoning: Every recipe’s flavor and zing.  Liven up your meals with these herbs and seasons in your next dressings and sauces.

  • Salt (sea salt)
  • Black Peppers (whole with a grinder)
  • Basil (dried)
  • Oregano (dried)
  • Thyme (dried)
  • Cumin (ground)
  • Crushed Red Pepper – optional if you like spicy foods
  • Cayenne Pepper – optional if you like spicy foods
  • Paprika (Hungarian Smoked)
  • Cinnamon
  • Curry Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Turmeric (…because it’s healthy for you)
  • Bouillon Cubes (Chicken, Vegetable) – buy ones that don’t have MSG in it!

Category (4) Fridge Goods: Staples for cooking that you’ll need to monitor expiration dates on!

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter (unsalted, that way you can add the salt and control it!)
  • Yogurt (plain or Greek)
  • Cheese (try to buy a block instead of shredded, it’s cheaper and it last longer)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (yellow, Dijon)

Category (5) Frozen Goods: Buying fresh vegetables is always better but for that quick stir fry or quick fancy breakfast, these frozen goods will help you with time.

  • Spinach (chopped or whole leaves)
  • Peas, Beans, Carrot Mix
  • Broccoli
  • Potato (hash, diced)
  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, peaches)

Category (6) Canned Goods: These are great for those quick bake sales, crockpot meals and last minute meals.

  • Pumpkin Puree
  • Beans (black beans, red beans, garbanzo, etc.)
  • Tomato (paste, diced, sauce, sun dried)
  • Stocks (chicken – low sodium, vegetable….in a box not a can)

Some key reminders about this list:

  • This list is to get you a general idea of what items are good to keep on hand, but please don’t feel like you need to go out and purchase all of these items.
  • Try to buy one or two items a week until your kitchen is well stocked with the foods you and your family like.
  • Check out the bulk food area of the store to save but don’t go overboard! No one needs 30 lbs. of rice on hand at all times =)
  • Ina Garten (celebrity chef on Food Network) says to buy high quality and expensive spices. This statement is true! They are often better quality than less expensive spices, but you can still make an amazing meal with discounted grocery store spices.

Now that I have you scouring your pantry, what will you go buy? What have I forgotten to list? Should I add?  What ingredient can you not live without?

 

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