Every kitchen needs to be well-stocked to be able to handle a variety of last minute cooking decisions, and in particular everyone’s evolving nutrition needs. The problem is most people do not take the time to set this up – and end up spending a lot more than they need and then having things that simply go to waste.
While less is more – less but better quality is really what you want to aim for when setting up some good pantry basics. Space and your (or your family’s) personal tastes/diet will dictate how much and what you keep on hand.
A top 5 complaint of the average working parent is that grocery shopping is a waste of time and something done multiple times during the week.
Setting up your pantry well can go a long way to avoid this. Once you have everything set up – set aside an hour or so on a weekend or quiet week day night – put some jazz on – and make a list to keep yourself up-to-date or ready for new meals to come.
My favourite pantry in the world has to be Nigella Lawson’s, but nutritionally speaking, it is more like an adult decadence shop. I love how excited she gets every time she goes to get something. We should all feel the same way.
Without further ado, here are the New Pantry Essentials…
Flours – unbleached organic wheat, organic unbleached pastry, organic kamut, organic quinoa. Xanthan gum for gluten-free baking.
Sugars – organic cane crystal and powdered form. To make brown sugar when you need it mix your cane sugar with a bit of molasses.
Dry Pastas – multi-grain – spaghetti and macaroni style, kamut penne, egg noodles, brown rice (for gluten intolerant family and/or friends), good quality potato gnocchi (2 packages).
Garlic (organic) – full and also minced in olive oil for emergencies.
Oils – virgin olive oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, white and/or black truffle oil – buy one and make sure it has actual truffle in the bottle – not essence of…
Stocks – organic chicken and vegetable.
Jarred Tomatoes – canned only if no BPA lining (We recommend Eden brand) – sauce, diced, stewed, paste (make certain they are low – or no sodium(salt) added.
Spreads – organic nut butters (peanut, pumpkin, almond,) jam, jelly – no sugar added – there are many great organic and small batch options – I recommend a good marmalade and red berry jam – they can also be used in marinades and baking. Tahini.
Natural Sweeteners – organic honey, organic maple syrup (will need refrigeration once opened), organic agave, organic molasses.
Vinegars – balsamic both white and red – please invest in an organic one, organic apple cider, rice wine
Specialty Sauces – good quality hot sauce like Piri-piri, Tabasco, organic low sodium soy sauce, Bragg’s Aminos.
Nuts (if you have a family member with a nut allergy I recommend not storing any of these especially if they are a child) – almonds, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, flaked coconut – keep the healthiest and best quality on hand.
Dried Fruit – raisins, apricots, dates, cherries, cranberries – the only item that I know many people do not like organic here are the apricots due to their undesirable colour.
Dried or Canned Beans– black, navy, pinto, kidney, chick peas – organic and water packed.
Canned Fish/Seafood – tuna, wild salmon, clams, sardines, anchovies – packed in water and from sustainable sources. Look for BPA free cans – We like Vital Choice.
Specialty Items – artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, olives – green, black and a stuffed variety.
Mustards – sweet and grainy, and another more exotic style or one with heat.
Herbs and Spices – oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, cumin, cayenne, and everything else you like – because these are the jewels to the crown when cooking. Fresh is best – but organic dried will do in a pinch.
Salts and Peppers – kosher, pink or grey sea salt, herbed sea salt, whole black and pink peppercorns , crushed blacked pepper. A good salt and peppermill set is a great gift to ask for your pantry.
Baking Ingredients – baking powder, baking soda, rapid rise yeast, cream of tartar, good chocolate and organic semi-sweet chocolate chips, unsweetened cocoa powder.
Extracts – vanilla, almond, lemon, peppermint.
Feel free to cut and paste this list!