I will admit I’m not much of a gourmet cook, but I do like to have a pantry stocked with some of our family basics for quick, frugal and healthy meals. I’ve found that if I keep enough ingredients on hand, I don’t have to worry much about meal planning during the week. We may have a couple of planned meals and the rest end up being “pantry dinners.” We don’t cook a lot of fancy or creative things from our pantry, but it is nice to be able to put together something easy and nutritious (if not delicious) with what we have on hand.
We are fortunate in my own house to have a small pantry with shallow shelves right off of our kitchen. But in previous houses, we’ve created pantries in basements and wherever we could find space. This week I felt a little chill in the air, reminding me to do a little pantry nesting and fluffing for the season ahead. In preparation, I’ve gathered a few ideas to share with you all.
Storing goods in clear glass containers makes it easy to see what is there and when it needs to be replenished.
I love shallow shelves to make the most of a small space. If your pantry shelves are too deep, it is easy to lose things in the back.
Really short on space? Create mini-pantries on the wall! Charming containers make this part pantry a part of the kitchen’s ambience. Containers on the counter keep everything within easy reach.
Free standing cabinets can be perfect pantries.
Why not stash pantry goods in cute boxes or containers?
Deep cupboards can be customized with pull out pantry racks!
Incorporating recycling areas into your work spaces saves precious time and makes recycling a part of the daily routine.
I took a quick look in our pantry to see what we have on hand. Something so comforting to see a pantry with some good basics for a meal. You can see we don’t keep a lot of fancy things, but this pantry saves us lots of time and money because we always have something to eat. Combined with some basics such as shredded cheese, plain yogurt, fruits or vegetables, tortillas or bread we can make quick meal in a matter of minutes!
canned beans (black, pinto, kidney)
canned tuna & canned wild salmon
canned mandarin oranges
vinegars: red & white wine, balsamic
extra-virgin olive oil
baked corn or black chips
chicken and vegetable broths
whole and diced canned tomatoes canned
crushed stewed tomatoes
tomato paste & sauces
Organic soups from Trader Joes (we love roasted red pepper!)
Annie’s Mac and Cheese for the quick kids’ meals
whole wheat pastry flour
semisweet chocolate chips/dark chocolate chips
jelly, preserves & marmalade
Our grocery list tip: Everyone has a different way of handling their grocery lists. Some people write their needs as they find them on a charming kitchen chalkboard and then transfer the items to a shopping list, some folks have organized and detailed preprinted computerized shopping lists they can simply check off the needs before shopping, and then there is my family. We use a calculator paper roll hanging from a ribbon. Not too glamorous, but it works great for us! We add items as they are running low, then we unroll, rip off and take it to the market! Simple, easy and effective.