SPECIAL BLOG TODAY: a detailed tour of my pantry – staples for healthy cooking!
I’ve got a big blog entry for everyone today: a detailed tour of my pantry, spice rack and fridge. I’m also going to talk about some other items (proteins, fresh veggies, etc.) that I like to keep in my kitchen at all times. The reason I’m doing this is because I’ve found that having certain staple items on hand makes trying delicious and healthy new recipes much easier. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a recipe that looks great, but then realize I’m missing some ingredients. When that happens I usually decide it’s not worth a special trip to the store, so I fall back to my usual boring “go to” meals.
Almost all of the items you’ll see in my pantry and spice rack are inexpensive and keep for a long, long time. Of course some of these items are specialty items for specific styles of cuisine, and may not be applicable if you rarely prepare foods in those styles.
Most of all, I hope today’s blog gets you excited about healthy eating! If you take a little time to plan and stock your pantry with common staple items, you’ll be amazed at how many different healthy and tasty meals you can make. Eating healthy is easy when you can throw together delicious new dishes in a short amount of time; the first step is to have the raw materials on hand. Let’s get on with the tour!
NOTE: I’ll describe each photo in general terms, and then after the photo I’ll list the specific items in detail. As you’ll see in the rest of the photographs, everything is neatly arranged and grouped based on the ingredient type. Doing this is worth the trouble: it makes finding what you need and seeing when you’re running low on something much easier.
I’ll start off with a shot of the entire pantry.
This is the stuff we don’t use that often, so it’s in the back left corner for that reason. You never know when you’ll need something like sugar, honey or cocoa powder in a recipe, so having this stuff around makes sense.
The other half of the top shelf has some commonly used items in the middle, and less-used items on the right.
Second shelf, left side. This is where we keep jars and cans of veggies, with a focus on tomato-based products.
Second shelf, right side. On this shelf we keep some fresh veggies that don’t mind the dark and canned beans.
Third shelf, left side. This is where various vinegars are kept, along with some canned items used mostly in ethnic cooking.
Third shelf, middle. Mostly oils, and canned seafood.
Third shelf, right side. This is where we keep soups, broths and (mostly) spicy canned and jarred vegetables.
Fourth shelf, left side. This is where we keep our pastas, rice and grains.
Fourth shelf, right side. Lots of condiments and sauces here. Some items that would normally be stored in this section you’ll find in the fridge section because they require refrigeration after opening.
Fifth shelf, left side. Teas and coffees.
Fifth shelf, right side. Oatmeals, breadcrumbs and a few other staples.
This is the dried spice cabinet. A good selection of dried spices is very important.
More fresh veggies that should be kept at room temperature:
Refrigerator door, shelves 1 and 2.
Refrigerator door, shelves 3 and 4.
Fruits and veggies I like to have on hand (most purchased weekly): salad greens, broccoli, dill, cilantro, bell peppers, squash, lemon, lime, oranges, orange juice, strawberries, scallions, red onions, white onions, yellow onions, red potatoes, white potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, basil, frozen stir fry veggies, frozen brocoli, frozen corn, frozen green beans and frozen peas.
Meats, dairy and cheeses (most purchased weekly): milk, eggs, bacon, prosciutto, white American cheese, feta cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.
Proteins (most of these items are usually bought in large quantities and then frozen): lean ground beef, steak, cod, flounder, catfish, salmon, shrimp and boneless/skinless chicken breasts.
Of course from time to time I purchase items not mentioned or seen above, but that’s the bulk of it. Having these ingredients around will allow you to get very creative in the kitchen – the possibilities are practically endless! Also, keep in mind that stocking your pantry with these items is very inexpensive compared to taking your family out for dinner even once every couple of weeks (and it’s certainly more healthy!)
I hope you enjoyed this tour, and that it has got you thinking about how much fun and easy cooking healthy new meals can be! If you ever want to refer back to this article, I’m going to link to it on the recipe page, and also stick it to the top of the recipe forum. Of course I’ll continue to share lots of new recipes here on JSF, and please feel free to submit your favorite recipes to JSF!