Preparing for the Challenges II: Stocking your Pantry


If you are going to cook, there are some things you are going to need to have on hand.  This post will cover what you need in your pantry.  These are your non-perishable items.

You can stock your pantry in any variety of ways.  I think aside from the basics (like flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, herbs and spices) we purchased ingredients as we needed them because I had no idea what we would need.  I picked recipes I wanted to cook and ran to the store every few days for ingredients.  Slowly our pantry filled up as I used small amounts of ingredients purchased and stored the rest to be used in another meal.

Some people like to use coupons to stock up on the basics.  Combining coupons and sales along wither other store specific perks can yield some huge savings.  I did the coupon thing for a while, but rules changed so much and I rarely found coupons for those basic ingredients I cook with – I found couponing to be a waste of my time.  I’m pretty basic when it comes to cooking, and I’ve also been doing this long enough that I convert most “mainstream” recipes to “from scratch” recipes by making some of the ingredients called for.  This is often stuff like bread crumbs, cream of chicken/mushroom/celery soup, broths, etc.  Therefore most of what *I* buy is very basic, best price is found in the bulk food store – but not everyone cooks like that.  If you can use coupons to your advantage, they may work out great for you.

However, having said all of that if you are new to scratch cooking you may find coupons to be helpful for basic things when you can find them.  You will certainly find basic ingredients on sale on a regular basis, if you don’t buy them from a bulk store your best bet for a good deal would be waiting for sales, and then stocking up until the next sale.  Most sales run in 3-6 month cycles.  I have a large family and we cook daily, so I buy most of my shopping list at bulk food stores.

Some communities have stores that sell non perishable food that has been dented or has expired.  Near us we have a bakery outlet where bread is sold past it’s expiration date but is still perfectly fine to eat.  We can get $4/loaf breads for $.99, bagels for $1 per bag, etc.  While I prefer to make these things by hand, this store has come in so handy for on the go lunches and breakfasts.  We also have a store that sells expired and dented goods.  It’s huge!  All sorts of canned vegetables, juices, pastas, and your typical non perishable convenience foods.  We’ve gone once to find some basic pantry goods and have been pleased with the prices.

EVERY household pantry may be a little different based off of your cooking preferences.   If you are just starting out, there are a few basics I think any kitchen would use – unless you are unable to consume them due to allergies or intolerance.

Always check your recipe’s ingredient list before starting to cook.  If you are just starting out, you may need to make frequent trips to the store for ingredients not included here until you have a basic supply in your pantry based on your eating preferences.

  • Flour (all purpose, whole wheat, bread flour)
  • yeast
  • Sugar
  • Oils (cooking and baking oils – vegetable oil and olive oil are most common)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Salt
  • Baking soda and baking powder
  • Cornstarch
  • Dried grains (barley, rice)
  • Dried beans (black, kidney, pinto, great white northern)
  • Extracts (vanilla, almond are most common)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tomato paste, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes
  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts are most common)
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cornmeal
  • Honey, maple syrup
  • Broths (beef, chicken, vegetable are most common)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vinegar

What else could you add?  This is a very basic list – but from these basic ingredients you can make so much when combined with meat and perishable items like eggs, milk, butter, etc.

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