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If the thought of building a pantry from scratch seems daunting, take comfort in the fact that most are not going to be starting at the very beginning. Lurking in the pantry in your home, probably lies many of the things on this list.
Living at the intersection of broke and busy can be a gastronomical challenge, but cooking on the cheap shouldn’t mean minute rice and beans or buttered pasta every night. Having a well-stocked pantry also allows you to whip up an easy meal in a hurry if you have no other ideas. The first step to eating well on the cheap is having a well-stocked kitchen. It’s important for anyone, no matter what your living situation, to have most of these staples on hand.
Pantry: A room or cupboard for storing food, usually dry goods. Most foods to be stored will be dried, packaged, bottled, canned, foods that do not require refrigeration.
Stocking your pantry…
- helps you avoid prepackaged and processed foods.
- last-minute meals become a breeze (Chopped, anyone?)
- saves you money by buying items on sale.
- emergency preparedness (add a gallon of water per person, per day for at least 3 days)
- helps maintain a ‘real food’ diet
Quick note: Use this list responsibly. Stocking up on dried split peas, will do you no good if you never cook them. Since your heritage may be different from mine; are there specialty ingredients do you like having around?
Stocking The Shelves:
* Fats/Oils – avocado, coconut, lard, ghee
* Polyunsaturated oil, Olive oil
* Flour: Enriched, All Purpose, Wheat, Cake, Cornmeal; or other of choice
* Baking Powder
* Baking Soda
* Cream of Tartar
* Cocoa Powder (unsweetened)
* Chocolate: bitter, unsweetened, semi-sweet
* Flavoring: Vanilla, Almond, Lemon, Orange
* Food Coloring: Assorted colors
* Sugar :white, brown, confectioners, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup
* Gelatin: plain, flavored, pudding
* Herbs & Spices : A to Z list
* Bread Crumbs, Panko
* Rice: white, long grain, brown
* Dry Pastas – a few different shapes and sizes
* Barley, lentils
* Dried Lima beans, Navy Beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans, kidney beans
* Onions & garlic
* Prepared Mustard
* Salad Dressing(s)
* Vinegar: White Distilled, apple cider, basalmic
* Olives – Green Stuffed, Kalamata, Black; whole/sliced
* Coffee: Regular, Decaf, Instant (whichever one you use)
* Tea: Regular, Decaf, Herbal (whichever one you use)
* Jelly, Jam
* Raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries
* Juices, Assorted of choice
* Cereal, Oatmeal, Dry of choice
* Milk-Evaporated, Condensed, Dry
* Non-Dairy Creamer
* Gravy Mix
* Peanut Butter
* Canned Seafood – Tuna, Salmon, Sardines, Crab, Shrimp
* Canned Vegetables – Green Beans, Corn
* Teriyaki sauce, Soy Sauce, Cooking Wine, hot sauce, oyster sauce
* Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, Tomato Puree, Spaghetti Sauce
* Organic Condensed Soups
* Chicken Broth, Beef broth
Stock up on these essentials and you’ll be shocked at how easily you’re able to build a meal, and how little you’re able to buy at the grocery store each week. This isn’t a full inventory of what to have in the kitchen, rather it’s the staples you can easily add fresh ingredients to, to build healthy, wholesome meals.
Stocking the Cellar:
A root cellar was an essential part of every home in the days before fresh produce was available in supermarkets year-round. Today they are still very important to the homesteader, farmer and others that grow their own food. Although, if you have one available; if you also have access to a bulk shopping store; it can help keep your overall food costs down. The items that benefit from being stored in a root cellar are:
* Home canned goods
* Onions, garlic, shallots
* potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams
* root vegetables – carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips, rutabaga, winter radishes
* celery, leeks, brussels sprouts,
* winter squash – pumpkins, acorn, butternut, and spagetti
* cabbage, lettuce
* green tomatoes, tomatillos
* Apples, pears – wrap in newspaper and place into divided boxes
* Dried beans
* cultured veggies – saurkraut, kimchi
Many of the most reliable winter-keeping vegetables are biennials (plants that flower and set seed during their second growing season), which means they’re naturally programmed for long storage.
Do not store these foods for ‘long term’
- Oily grains and nuts: They go rancid quickly and lose their nutrition.
- Barley, pearled
- Brown sugar: It contains too much moisture to store long-term.
- Any milled grain except rolled oats: Grinding or milling exposes the insides of the grains to oxygen and can result in them going rancid. Store your grains whole.
- Flour, whole wheat
- Rice, brown
- Vegetables and fruits, dehydrated (unless dry enough, inside and out, to snap when bent)
- Meat, dried (such as jerky)
- Oils: Will eventually go rancid (1 year or several, depending). Best to store in dark environment.