Thursday, August 16, 2012

How To Keep a Well Stocked Pantry

“Even the most resourceful housewife cannot create miracles from a riceless pantry” ~Chinese Proverb

Even though I'm not a housewife, this quote really reminded me that unless I have my key ingredients on hand, I cannot create a "miracle" in the kitchen when I'm exhausted after a long day at work.  I've found that by keeping a well-stocked pantry, it helps alleviate the "what's for dinner" headache, and also saves us so much not having to eat out all the being able to stock up on an item when it's on sale for a fraction of the normal cost....and by eliminating the "I-had-to-run-to-the-store-to-get-milk-and-bread-and-spent-$50" catastrophe.

Source  Extreme Couponing turned hoarding 
Now when I say to keep a well-stocked pantry, I don't mean to get crazy and have so much stuff that you can't use it up in a reasonable amount of time. I don't want to see your house on "Doomsday Preppers" or "Hoarders."  Unless you own a hot dog stand in NYC, there is no need to have 14 gallons of mustard on hand.  Your children should not have to sleep with cases of olives and chili in their bed because you are out of storage space for your "stockpile."  Just because you have good coupons that you can stack with a good sale, does NOT mean you should buy 432 packages of spaghetti even if they come out to FREE, unless you plan on donating at least 400 packages to your local food pantry.  But if you find a really good sale, AND you can use the items before their expiration date AND you have the space to store them AND you have the extra money, then buy a dozen cans of your favorite tomato sauce or your favorite tuna.  It's all about finding a balance between becoming cost-effective and prepared, yet not greedy and wasteful. 

One thing that I find that is different from my pantry than many people's pantries, is that I choose to stock an almost completely organic, all-natural kitchen, free from artificial or unhealthy ingredients.  You will (almost) never find anything containing artificial sweeteners, MSG, HFCS, GMO, pesticides, or fake ingredients.  We eat butter, not margarine.  We eat eggs, not egg beaters.  We eat organic sugar and honey (in moderation) and not aspartame.  We eat bacon, rib eye steaks, and dark meat chicken in addition to chicken breasts and tofu.  We don't eat anything that's made to be "Sugar-free" or "fat free" unless it naturally happens to be that way.  We try to eat food in the closest form as it occurs in nature.  My rule of thumb is that if the ingredient list looks like a science experiment, if there are more than 5-10 items long, and it's something that my Great-Grandma wouldn't have eaten, I shouldn't eat it either.  While we tend to eat a very "clean" diet, we don't follow a specific way of eating, such as Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, Weston A. Price, Vegan, Vegetarian, Low Fat/Carb/Sugar.  We take the best of all methods and combine them into something that works for us.  However, we are always changing, always evolving as we continue learning and growing and discovering how our bodies react.  Being diagnosed with food allergies has really made me read labels and clean up my diet more than I already had.  

Typical Trader Joe's Shopping Trip
I do most of my shopping at the local farmer's market, Trader Joes, Nugget Market, and sometimes Amazon Grocery.  I shop the sales and with coupons as much as possible to keep costs down.  I also try to grow some of my own produce and fresh herbs, can homemade tomato products, jams and jellies, and pickles, and freeze fresh produce when it's in season.

Home canned peppers and salsa
Home canned Jelly, pickles, and Relish

Trays of fresh, seasonal fruit make great ice cubes or smoothies in the winter months when fruit is out of season and expensive. 

Frozen edmame, a good, quick snack.  Frozen shredded zucchini from last year's "monsters" ready to be added to a soup, stew, or pasta sauce for an extra serving of veggies

I have a large pantry, a deep chest freezer in the garage, and have just added an extra fridge in the garage to store bulk produce for juicing and canning as well as large jars of fermented foods like kimchi.
Wild fish from Costco in individual portion sizes make for quick, weeknight dinners
Organic fruits and veggies
Organic, GF treats
Homemade Pasta Sauce and Organic Frozen Meal for a Quick Dinner 

The remainder of the ground beef from our 1/4 side
Still have lots of steaks and roasts left!

Kimchi and zucchini monsters
Strawberries ready to be made into jam

While I may not always have every single one of these ingredients on hand, I try to keep the majority of them around, because they tend to be the main ingredients in my "go-to" dinners.

Feed your dogs a spoonful of yogurt with their meal, it helps alleviate the stinky farts :) 
Leftovers make quick, healthy meals!
Ghee, coconut spread, and organic butter

Organic, grass fed beef hot dogs, wild cold smoked salmon, goat cheese, soy free dark chocolate

Healthy drinks
His and hers condiment shelves

More fresh fruits and veggies
Fresh fruits
Peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes

Use your inside freezer for things you use regularly
Freeze your brown bananas for smoothies and recipes

I love to cook, I love to entertain, AND I eat most meals at home due to food allergies, so I try to keep a well-rounded variety of everything on hand for a cooking binge, a last minute get together, and prevention of going out and eating something I shouldn't.

Canned goods, spices, and condiments

Mostly our "junk" food.  Keep junk on the top shelf. 

My "safe" shelves.  Nothing goes on these shelves that content my allergens.  That way when I'm exhausted, I don't even have to read the labels, I know it's good for me to eat.  

Bulk items like organic olive oil can save you lots of money

High protein snack, no cooking required

Even my poor dog has developed a grain allergy so I keep healthy, allergen friendly snacks on hand for her
After a couple weeks of taking wheat and corn out of her diet, she stopped scratching and chewing on herself and her "hot spots" disappeared. 

Just because you eat healthy, doesn't mean you can't have the occasional treat.  Plus, if you bring in treats to your coworkers, they (usually) end up being in a better mood the rest of the day!  

Come over, have a drink, relax, and let's chat over a meal.  

Always have cold beers waiting for friends

Spices, Seasonings

  • Bay Leaves*
  • Chili Powder*
  • Cayenne*
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander*
  • Cumin*
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Pepper Plant Dry Rub Seasoning*(I put this on everything from popcorn to pizza)
  • Whole Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Herbs de Provence 
  • Sage salt
  • Paprika* (regular and smoked)
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Red Pepper Flakes*
  • Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper grinders
  • Red Hawaiian Sea Salt 
  • Sea Salt 
  • Liquid smoke


  • Cornstarch*
  • Almond Flour
  • Coconut Flour
  • Rice Flour
  • All Purpose Flour*
  • Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix*
  • Other assorted Gluten Free flours and baking mixes 
  • Baking soda and powder
  • Organic Mexican Vanilla Extract
  • Organic Sugar - Brown, Powdered, Cane (white)
  • Chips* (Chocolate, butterscotch and white)
  • Organic Blackstrap Molasses
  • Assorted (raw and dry roasted) nuts:  Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Peanuts*, Pistachios*
  • Shredded coconut, no sugar added
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cupcake Papers
  • Cake decorating kit (colors, sprinkles, tips, bags, etc)
  • Assorted extracts (almond, coconut, etc)


  • Green Tobasco
  • Bone Daddy's Spitfire Sauce 
  • Pepper Plant  Hot Sauces: Original, Chunky Garlic, Chipotle, and Habaneros*
  • Siracha
  • Sweet Red Chili Sauce
  • Tomato Salsa and Salsa Verde * (Home canned)
  • Assorted Mustards*
  • Ketchup (Muir Glen)
  • Worcestershire Sauce*
  • Peanut Butter*
  • Almond Butter
  • Tahini
  • Mayonnaise*
  • Local Raw Honey
  • Organic Maple Syrup
  • Soy Sauce*, Gluten Free Soy Sauce* or Coconut Aminos
  • BBQ Sauce*
  • Assorted Vinegars: Red Wine*, Balsamic*, Raw Apple Cider Cider, Seasoned and Unseasoned Rice* 

Oils and Vinegars

  • Vinegars: Red Wine*, Balsamic*, Raw Apple Cider Cider, Seasoned and Unseasoned Rice*
  • Cold Pressed Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Garlic Oil 
  • Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Olive oil cooking spray*

Canned Goods/Pantry

  • Chicken Stock*
  • Beef Stock*
  • Canned fish - Sardines in Olive Oil, Tuna in Water, and Anchovy Filets or Anchovy paste in a tube
  • Tomatoes* - Fire-Roasted , crushed, diced, sauce, and paste (Muir Glen is the only brand of tomato products I buy, they taste like summer.  I also can my own tomatoes.)
  • Canned Beans* - Black, Garbanzo, Pinto, Refried
  • Ortega Chilies (whole and diced)
  • Artichoke Hearts in Water
  • Pinapple chunks in 100% juice
  • Coconut Milk (Regular and Light)
  • Olives - Black, Green, and Kalmata*
  • Pasta - Brown Rice Spaghetti, Rice macaroni or other shapes, Linguini-style Stir-Fry rice noodles
  • Organic Corn Taco Shells
  • Rice - Brown, White, Sushi, and Arborio
  • Quinoa
  • Seaweed - Nori sheets (sushi) and wakame (miso soup)  
  • Almond/Rice/Coconut Milk


  • Assorted teas and coffees
  • Kombucha
  • Hansens Sodas
  • Santa Cruz Organic Juices and Lemonade
  • Wines - Red*, White, and Sparkling
  • Hard Alcohol - Vodka, White and Dark* Rum, Whiskey, and Scotch
  • Beer - Assorted for all tastes

Frozen Foods

  • Organic Grass fed and finished beef - we bought a quarter of a cow from a local farm and got an assortment of ground beef, steaks and roasts
  • Organic Chicken (breast, thighs, drumsticks)
  • Organic whole pastured chicken for roasting and then making stock
  • Organic Pastured Bacon
  • Wild caught or sustaniably farmed seafood - salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, shrimp, etc.
  • Organic Pastured Pork (chops, shoulder)
  • Organic Pork or chicken sausages
  • Shredded zucchini from last seasons harvest
  • Peas and corn
  • Edamame (whole or shelled)
  • Frozen fruits for making smoothies or as "ice cubes" for water or cocktails (berries, peaches, bananas, grapes, etc)

Fresh Foods

  • Fresh Fruit - Apples, lemons*, limes*, avocados, tomatoes, bananas
  • Fresh Vegetables - Salad Greens, spinach, kale*, bok choy, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, radishes
  • Fresh herbs - cilantro* , basil, rosemary, thyme, mint
  • Raw, Organic, Grassfed Milk*
  • Ghee made from grass fed milk
  • Butter* - salted and unsalted
  • Farm Fresh Pastured Eggs*
  • Assorted cheeses* - Sharp cheddar, Parmesan, goat, manchego, etc.
  • Organic white miso*
  • Cold smoked salmon
  • Fermented foods - Kimchi, sauerkraut, sour pickles, etc. 
  • Any seasonal produce that catches my eye at the farmer's market!
  • Corn* and Brown Rice Tortillas (freeze if not using immediately)
  • Sprouted whole grain bread or traditional sourdough bread (no yeast)

"Junk Food"

  • Annie's Mac n Cheese*  
  • Annie's or Cascade Farms Granola Bars*
  • Annie's Bunnies Crackers* 
  • Amy's Frozen meals and burritos*
  • Applegate all beef hot dogs
  • Organic Tortilla Chips*
  • Organic popcorn* (to air or stove pop) 
  • Pints of ice cream* or sorbet (small containers to prevent binging!)



*****This list is my pre-allergy testing list.  I have marked the things that are taking a break from or limiting in my diet with an "*".  I do hope that they will eventually make them into my normal rotation one day soon.  For now, I feed these items to my hubby, family and friends and stick to things on my "safe" list.  

    No comments:

    Post a Comment