I love to grocery shop! I love to cook! I have food issues, a picky eater and a bottomless pit that I have to keep happy so some things just need to be had so that a spur of the moment meal can be made, a snack had or dental work catered to. Pantry items are constantly on sale so it’s easy to fill things up and not break the bank. For me the pantry includes the deep freeze because so many things freeze beautifully and things that rotate thru the fridge but could be stored in the cupboard. I am not going to include spices in this conversation because they are a whole different animal.
Shall we start with canned veg? Corn, Green beans-cut, Peas-spring or sweet, Mushrooms-pieces and stems, Tomatoes-diced and whole peeled, Tomato paste and Tomato sauce. In the off season lets include a pasta sauce, if you can find one that is more middle of the road as far as flavor goes you can “doctor” it and make it more to your preferences and by flavor I mean not too much salt or sugar. These basic veg can start you on your way to anything.
Dry goods, I am guessing there is a better name for this stuff but I can’t think of it. Noodles, every kind available- seashells, elbows, bow-ties, spaghetti, angel hair, spirals, fettuccine, what ever sparks your interest. I would stay away from torellini in this dry pasta section just because it is so much better from the cold section where it is filled with all kinds of delightful things. Flour-all purpose (by this I mean plain, regular flour not any of the specialty kinds, we can talk about the different kinds of flour later) Sugar-granulated and powdered, Salt-kosher or sea and Pepper-black or white and baking soda are also in this category. Crackers and nuts should be here too, saltine, triscuits, chicken-in-a-biscuit, club, ritz, water crackers, whole grain crisps, rice cakes, almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pecans, whatever you like.
Rotating fridge things include herbs, lemons/limes, milk, cream/half and half, sour cream, all the cheese, cucumbers, lettuce and other greens and mushrooms. I also include tomatoes, potatoes, avocados and onions (except leeks which are sold in the chilled bins like herbs and greens) even tho these kids don’t go in the fridge but part of the produce is in the chilled and it’s sold all in the same area. I am also going to include the pepperonis, canadian bacon, hard salami, pancetta, prosciutto and other lunch meats here.
Frozen things. All those veg you have in cans come frozen as well except tomatoes. I keep more of the veggie mixes on hand like veg for stir-fry or broccoli and cauliflower mix than the straight veg. I grew up eating the frozen veggies in things and sometimes they work and sometimes they just never get to the consistency we like. For crockpot dinners the frozen is good since it gets all day to cook down and become not be quite so raw. Other things that can be frozen are milk, cracked eggs, cheese, nuts, some fruits and bread. Frozen fruit is forever inexpensive and has a variety of uses so don’t be scared, we can talk about all of the joys of frozen fruit later, but some things just scream out to be frozen like blueberries! A hot bowl of oatmeal can be cooled nicely with a few frozen blueberries that will “cook” in the toastyness of the oatmeal! Fresh, pitted cherries also freeze nicely, basically anything you can buy already frozen can be frozen at home and used for soooo many things.
I buy family packs of meats and cheeses and portion them out and I am lucky enough to have a food saver so I can vacuum seal them up with instead of having to wrap in parchment paper then plastic wrap then foil and then get it in a ziplock bag which then should have the air smooshed out of it. Lunch meats, the other half of the ham that didn’t get eaten at dinner and that extra meatloaf that your mother-in-law made just for you will also freeze beautifully!
A time saving tip is to buy one of those family packs of chicken breasts, we like the individually frozen kind, and cook the entire bag and by cook I mean lightly bake or boil. These parcooked pieces will last a bit longer in the freezer than the raw ones and they are mostly cooked so once they are thawed- this takes about the 15 minutes that it will take you to get the rest of the ingredients situated- they don’t need the full cooking time which depending on the size can take up to 30 minutes!
So far our pantry has canned goods, dry goods and frozen goods which should set you up to be able to make any recipe that you can find. These items are almost always on a sale so it is super easy to get stocked up and keep stocked. I don’t have an official pantry but I use every bit of cupboard space I can get plus that awkward space above the fridge and we have a “beer fridge” in the garage that I keep some things in. We also have a deep freeze so I might say something about that but a regular freezer does just fine.
We will have a conversation about our spice cabinet I know we got close to talking about some of that but I want to devote an entire chat about spices because they are special!
Thanks ya’ll! Happy cooking!