Alrighty, what do I have in my pantry, you ask?
I am literally looking in it right now as I type this out.
There are 3 main food sections to my pantry.
The baking section.
The non-perishable/canned goods section.
let's call this the "Fixings" section. This station is used for our yogurts, smoothie bowls, oatmeal bowls etc., as well as, the kids lunch & (preapproved) snack options. This is where you'll find our PB, bread, granola, popcorn, nuts, seeds, oats, dried fruits, raisins, pretzels etc.
NOTE: I keep my everyday (4.) oils & spices organized in a drawer and cupboard next to the stove.
First things first.
Organization, on it's own, can improve cooking strategies big time! It has saved my mind many times. For example, putting my spices laid out in the drawer next to the stove has helped me a lot. Pull the drawer out, see it all laid out, and grab what I need as I cook right there at the stove. Some of you may have them stacked in tiered rows in a cupboard. Having my kitchen organized helps me optimize my cooking time and does indeed help me enjoy the process much better.
Organization is PRICELESS to me. When I can see it, I'm more likely to use it. When it's placed in a convenient location, it aids my cooking process more smoothly.
Be honest about what you actually use in your pantry. Someone needs to hear this:
You do not need to have your pantry "put together", super organized, or diverse to be cooking or even planning well. You start by starting. It is 100% ok to buy the same few items over and over again. No shame here! It takes time to learn and build up the "go-to's" that you are proud of and confident in cooking with.
Start small. Start simple. The more you weed through what you actually like to eat and what you realistically cook with, you will discover your essentials. (Grocery shopping becomes simplified too. Thank God!) Any items you really don't use right now, put them off to the side for when that day comes. When you're ready, and you see that specific ingredient in a recipe that actually sounds good to you, then you will actually cook with it. No need to overstock that pantry with clutter that will only frustrate you when you're trying to look through it. And do not feel bad for not using it yet.
Be honest and embrace grace for your pace. If the only canned items you are currently cooking with is diced or crushed tomatoes, then so be it. Keep it simple and add slowly as you learn. You can cook many different dishes with a can of diced tomatoes.
My Pantry Staples:
1. (mostly) Non-Perishable/Canned Goods Section
pre-made sauces for those busy days (at least 2 options)
Shakshuka (Israeli) sauce, 2 jars
Kashmiri Curry (Indian) sauce, 2 jars
pasta noodles, 2 boxes
chicken stock, 2-32oz boxes so I can double recipes for leftovers
veggie stock, 2-32oz boxes
crushed tomatoes, 1-32oz can
tomato paste, 2 cans
unsalted diced tomatoes, 2-4 cans
chickpeas, 6 cans
black beans, 1 can
coconut milk, 2-4 cans
onions, 1 bundle full
green lentils, 1 bag
korean sticky rice (we're a Korean household, this is a staple), 1 gigantic bag
quinoa, 1 small bag (a little goes a long way, especially if you are mixing grains)
Examples of Dishes that can be made from these ingredients:
curry dishes - Indian, Caribbean
soups/stews - lentil, chicken noodle, beef stew, Korean soups
pastas/noodles - Italian sauce, Asian sauce, mac 'n' cheese
Italian sauces (when its homemade, you make a lot and freeze batches)
rice, quinoa, beans, lentils - stir fry's, tacos, burritos etc., salads
... and the list goes on.
2. Baking Section
dark cocoa powder
monk fruit sugar
flours - oat, self-rising, almond, gluten-free blend
Examples of dishes that can made from these items:
Flourless muffins - remember those chickpeas, yup, there's your flour base for a great gluten-free, high protein treat
Vanilla is a great addition to plain Greek yogurt when you need help reducing your sugar intake. You can even add a little to an overnight oats jar to create some hearty, yet tasty combinations.
Tons and tons of baked goods including homemade pancakes
3. "Fixings" Section
1 large tub of some kind of crunchy snack (whole grain/seed cracker or pretzel)
Examples of how you can use these items:
make your own trail mix
toppings for oatmeals (hot/cold), smoothie bowls, yogurt
4. Spices & Oils
I have many more now, but thought I'd list some great starters.
Avocado Oil (higher smoke point than olive oil)
Coconut Amino Acids (my soy sauce replacement, or sometime I'll mix a soy sauce along with the aminos)
I hope this was helpful in refreshing your creative minds, gave you some more ideas, and helped relief any stress. You don't have to have it all together to start. Embrace the mess with me and one day we'll all look back and be amazed at how far we've actually come!
We're winning already!
Have a great day! And no matter what meal you sit down with tonight, enjoy it around a table with the people you love.
Feel free to comment, ask questions, say hello, & share with others. I'd love to know how to help you better.