This Food Practice is an excerpt from the list of practices shared in the book Spring, Cultivate Life, an installment in the Food Practice Through The Seasons series. Each season contains a practice for each week of the season. 13 total. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
For all intents and purposes I have two official pantries and a constantly recreated pantry because Jon and I are constantly traveling. There is the pantry in Maui (soon to be closed down), the more communal pantry at the family cabin in Idyllwild, and the small pantry I have to recreate every time we land in a new home while we are in digital nomad mode.
They all contain the spices and herbs I tend to use most, the backup tomato sauce for the dishes I make or for Jon when he is home alone and makes himself spaghetti, gluten free rice noodles, teas, coffee, hot chocolate mixes, popcorn, packets of Krave jerky for my on the go snack stash, rice milk, cereal for Jon, Superfood powder, dried lentils and beans, a few cans of black beans for Jon, and sauces (hot sauces, fish sauce, GF soy sauce, etc).
There may be some slight change to this over time as I change up what I’m cooking most, but this is a pretty typical base list for the things I normally have. I tend to cycle through the same 10-15 meals over and over again, and when I venture out into something new, it’s usually along the same type of cuisine (Mexican, Italian, Indian) so the spices and sauces are still generally the same.
You’ll find that without much thought, there are a set of things that you normally buy and keep on hand or need to buy on a regular basis to make the meals you usually make at home.
1 : a room or closet used for storage (as of provisions) or from which food is brought to the table
2 : a room (as in a hotel or hospital) for preparation of foods on order
The size of a pantry will vary from home to home. Sometimes it’s a full floor to ceiling closet in the kitchen and in other homes it’s a cupboard or two you have set aside for food stuffs. The type doesn’t matter as much as the stock that lies inside.
Support For Home Cooking Success
How you tend to your pantry reverberates into all other aspects of your home cooking. Having staples on the ready when you’re cooking as well as having them live in your cupboards in an organized fashion gives you a sense of mastery, awareness and ease when cooking on a day to day basis. But most importantly, having a well stocked and managed pantry helps keep you able to cook meals at home as oppose to running out for a meal because you don’t have all the things you need on hand.
Another added bonus is that it keeps your home cuisine in mind, meaning that you have to actively think about and be conscious of the types of meals you regularly make or like to eat. This helps tremendously when faced with the, “What do I make for dinner tonight?” conundrum we often face. Taking a peak into what you have in your pantry when you don’t know what to make for dinner helps trigger all sorts of ideas because you get to see what is available to you.
Managing your stock is different than week to week grocery shopping, because your pantry items are you base, typically non perishable items that store for longer periods of time and potential fillers to meals that require side dishes, garnishes and a good foundation of spices and herbs.
Also, because we have come out of Winter, it’s usual to have a depleted pantry. For most of you, the holiday season was made up of quite a lot of potlucks and festivities that included a lot of cooking.
Spring is the time to go through and check what you have left, what is missing and creating a list of what you need to go buy and restock.
Make a list of the things you’d like to keep in your pantry, using what you have in there now as a jumping off point. Are there things you would like to have in there but don’t? Has your cuisine been shifting lately, so that maybe you’re cooking more of a type of ethnic food than before and need to fill in some spice gaps? Are there things in your pantry that are over processed or unhealthy and can stand to be replaced by healthier choices?
These are all great questions to ask yourself while checking your inventory. Once you have your answers, take that list of what you need to restock and what you want to add and go shopping!
Keep in mind that stocking up a pantry is always infinitely more expensive than regular grocery shopping. You’re buying concentrated items that should last you several months at a time, so the money you spend lasts for a while. It can feel daunting, however. If it’s too much for your budget to handle all in one shot, than break it up, buying the most used and needed items first. Next month you can go out and buy the rest or however your budgeting allows.
Another great tip is to go to your computer, create a base list of the things that you like to keep in your pantry and print it out. You can use this monthly to check on what needs to be replenished and make your shopping much easier.