We all have those days when menu planning gets overlooked, the trip to the shops gets pushed aside and you find yourself facing a hungry family to feed at 5 o'clock on a Wednesday. I've been there more times than I care to share, I think I have something, and then at the last minute, I realize I don't and the entire meal goes from brilliant to a bomb (not The Bomb). But with a well stocked and organized pantry, that mid week shuffle will be a thing of the past and grocery shopping will be so much easier. The trick is to pick and choose which items work best for how you cook, and ensure that you have plenty of staples on hand to produce a last minute meal in a hurry... that and to always remember that heat, moisture and light can degrade food's nutritional value, so use what you buy and buy what you use. And by all means, if you are in love with glass storage jars like I am, keep them in a dark shelf no matter how pretty they look on your kitchen counter.
Every quarter I go through this list and restock anything that has a tendency to expire (like flour) or that we simply just need more of to keep ourselves well stocked (tinned tomatoes) . It is a rather big production, and the recycling men almost expect a big collection because I have an aversion to product boxes and turn my kitchen into a repackaging plant with everything coming in to the kitchen in boxes, and then moving into the millions of jars and storage containers that clutter our cabinets.
This is where I tell you how neurotic I am. Just for giggles, you won't have to look long to find the following post it notes in my pantry....just trying to keep it real, and let you know that in our house, our pantry is rarely magazine ready, unless it is "post it note quarterly".
"Last One" - When I buy multiples of the same thing, there is always one that has a post it note that reminds me that I am nearly out.
"Don't Open" — yes, I buy packed cookies. When time is on my side, I'll only bake fresh cookies but sometimes, packaged cookies make the world a better place. That is until your children swoop in and eat the entire box when no one is looking.
"Ask Mummy First" - reserved strictly for Nutella consumption because in our house, food warnings mean something all together different (see my Don't Open comment).
How to stock your pantry like a pro:
All-purpose and wholemeal flour
Granulated, icing and brown sugar
Chocolate bars (for cooking and for bribing your loved ones)
Tins of beans and pulses (various types)
Arborio, brown, white and basmati rice
Tinned tomatoes all varieties
Chicken, Beef, and Vegetable stock
Cereal (boxes and boxes of this stuff)
Red wine, Apple Cider, Balsamic, White Wine, and Rice Wine Vinegar
Ketchup, mayo, mustard
Soy Sauce and Teriyaki sauce
Walnut, Peanut, Vegetable, sunflower and Olive Oils
Favorite Hot Sauce
Cookies (shhh, our secret)
Spices: Everyone has their own take on how long to store spices and herbs. I have learned that if you do not cook with them that often you won't really notice them fade, and if you cook with them often they will be used long before they fade. The rule is that if you can smell them and taste them when you open them, then they should be fine. That being said, I am crazy about freshness so I chuck my spices every 6 months if I have not used them all. For the re-stock, look over your spices, check them and then re-stock what you need and use.
For the full post, visit Kitchen Living with Coryanne.
Image Credit: Kitchen Living with Coryanne