The Well Stocked Pantry

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Kitchen Ade

Pantry Raid!

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Big mama

The Well-stocked Pantry

A well stocked pantry allows you to put together quick, healthy family meals with very little time or effort. Having everything on hand ahead of time, cuts down on the temptation to fall into the fast food rut as so many of us do and also saves money. 

In addition, by making healthier choices when shopping for your pantry you are insuring that the meals you do cook will be better for your family. 

Keeping a list of your standard pantry items and checking them off as they run out really helps when it comes time to write your grocery list. 

Pantry Stocking 101

There is much more to the pantry than just sugar, flour and salt!  This is an example of a good basic pantry: 

  • Heart-friendly cooking oilsWhite or brown rice and rice blends - two main types

    •  long grain - e.g. basmati for fluffy rice dishes

    • short grain "sticky" rice types for risotto or oriental dishes

  • Pasta 

    • Use egg pastas to add a bit of protein to meatless sauces - there is more protein and "chew" in the egg type that can pizzazz up a vegetable-based sauce or extend a low meat content dish

    • Ribbed surfaces soak up more sauce that smooth-surfaced pastas

    • Must be hard durham semolina wheat based for best results with dried pastas

    • Try different shape for a new twist:  5 main "shapes"

      • string - vermicelli, cappellini (aka angel hair - fast cookers) spaghetti, linguini - good with light olive oil type sauces - longer cooking

      • ribbons - fettucine, papardella, - good with tomato sauces - "medium" weight type sauces

      • tubes - penne, elbow macaroni - great with cheesy sauces

      • other shapes - bows, shells, orichetti - versatile excellent with heavy cream sauces - easier for kids to eat

      • micro - orzo, pastina etc - tiny pastas for use in soups

      • Store pasta away from heat and light, and in air-tight container

  • Biscuit baking mix

  • Oats - A great filler especially for burger based dishes, and fiber booster

  • Top; pastas, popcorn and snacks: bottom; canned goods, crackers and condimentsDry Mixes - Gravy, salad dressing

  • Beans and Lentils - canned or dry - canned beans and lentils are excellent nutritionally, so find a good brand and keep them handy for quick meals

  • Bastes, Marinades, Sauces – Soy, Worcestershire, teriyaki etc

  • Tomato products - Diced, crushed, paste, sauce, salsa, dried

  • Pasta Sauce - The “pasta bake” sauces are very handy too

  • Broth or stock - Beef, chicken, vegetable (Fat free, low sodium)

  • Soup - Condensed, dry, ready-to-serve

  • Canned meats - Tuna, chicken, Salmon

  • Canned fruits - peaches, apple sauce, pears, pineapple, fruit salad, citrus, etc.

  • Dried fruits like blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc. for addition to biscuits and muffins

  • Canned vegetables:

    • mushrooms, for quick additions to stews and casseroles

    • baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, etc. for oriental cooking

    • artichoke hearts, palm kernels, etc. for additions to salads

    • other types of vegetables are best purchased frozen or fresh

  • Dinner kits - For Karate, Soccer or Basketball nights

  • Pudding and gelatin mixes

  • Canned or premixed cake frostings for quick dessert dress-ups

  • Assorted crackers

  • Heart-friendly cooking and salad oils - for high and low heat use:

    • Olive oil (virgin - or light if you don't like the strong taste) great for salads and low-heat sautéing

    • Peanut, Canola or Grapeseed oil for high heat frying

    • Non-stick spray oils for quick baking pan greasing and very low fat cooking

    • Flavored oils for salads and oriental cooking - e.g. Walnut, Sesame Seed, Garlic, Chile, etc. flavors

  • Vinegar - an every-day one and a "dress" vinegar

    • Regular white vinegar or wine vinegar for "every day" use

    • Balsamic vinegar for salads, deglazing and vegetables

    • There are many other flavored vinegars, so choose them according to your likes - herb flavored ones, champagne, cranberry, and more

  • Beverage like teas, cocoa, Ovaltine, canned or dried fruit juice mixes, etc. (your coffee should be in the fridge or freezer - unless it's instant!)

  • Snacks - popcorn, chips, pretzels for quick snacks or dipping

  • And yes, we'll even permit Kraft Dinner IF you keep extra cheese on hand to make it a healthier meal, add a small grated onion, and bit of chopped celery

Pantry Stocking 202

Top; spices galore: Bottom; garlic, ginger, and teasYou should also keep your spices, herbs, potatoes, onions and teas, etc. in a cool dark pantry.  Please get them out from under the sink or over the stove!  Auntie Canuck has helped out with this list:

  • Onions and potatoes must be stored separately to avoid sprouting potatoes and rotting onions...and never in the fridge

  • Fresh garlic and ginger should be stored in an airy basket in a dark cool place - never in the fridge

  • Spices - always buy a little at a time so you get the flavor - dried spices fade fast - you can often revive them a bit if you crush them up before adding to your dish:

    • fresh peppercorns - use a cheap coffee grinder to grind up small bottle's worth at a time

    • coarse sea salt - much healthier for you and doesn't clump like fine sea salt

    • dried garlic and ginger - oddly enough, these are viewed as different spices from the fresh versions in Asian and Oriental cooking!

    • vanilla - either the dried beans (keep them in a sealed container) or the pure vanilla extract

    • almond, orange, cherry, lemon, and other natural extracts for baking and international cooking

    • Indian/Thai/Oriental Curry powders and/or premixed bottled pastes and sauces

    • basil, tarragon, oregano, rosemary, Chile powder, sage, bay leaves, chives and other dried spices are regularly called for in many recipes so keep these on hand if you can't easily find them fresh

    • for ease of use, look for "bouquet garnis", "fines herbs" and Italian spice blend mixed herbs

    • saffron is wonderful when a few sprigs are added to basmati rice

    • dry mustard, and low salt spice mixes for seafood, poultry and beef

    • nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon

    • cornstarch - for thickening sauces and baking

    • baking soda, baking powder, and cream of tartar (also put a box of baking soda in the fridge to keep it fresh. When it's time to replace the fridge box, keep the old one near the stove for emergency fire-fighting - it's a great grease-fire-stopper and also a drain freshener)

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