If you frequent my blog you’re going to hear me reference my pantry a lot. When I say “pantry” I’m not talking about an actual pantry – like I have disposable closet space. Please. As a starving artist I rely heavily on what I have laying around my kitchen, so when I say “pantry” I simply mean what food I keep on hand. Whether I’m feeding friends on the fly, doctoring up something I found at the grocery store, or completely dead broke with nothing but despair and my kitchen, the pantry is an integral part to life as a starving artist. Here are some tips for getting your pantry stocked…. get your mind out of the gutter….
- Start with what you know. We all have ingredients we know we like to use all the time. Perhaps you like fresh garlic or maybe you can’t get enough taco seasoning. Great! Start with your favorites and gradually pick and choose new ones over time. Which leads me to number two….
- Spread it out. Ok, yes, you COULD go to the store and spend $300 in one trip filling your cabinets, but who has the money for that? Also, it’s hard to know all the things you might want or need on hand in one trip. More than likely you’re going to discover items you want as you go. My pantry is ever-evolving, so I recommend the spread-it-out approach. Everytime I make a trip to the grocery store I check out the non-perishables and buy a few of whatever’s on sale. Items like canned tuna or boxed broths are exceptionally good sale items. Do this for a couple of weeks and you’ll have a great variety of items in no time.
- Spices. Are. Everything. Having an array of spices (even just 6) can be what turns your broke can of beans into a hearty, homemade meal. I’m telling you. They aren’t always cheap, but the good news is that once you buy one, it’s on your shelf forever. Buy them one at a time and you’ll have a full rack before you know it. Six I recommend to start: Parsley, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, curry, and Italian seasoning.
- Pick your pantry space and stick to it. It’s too easy to go overboard (at least for me) when stocking your shelves. Decide in advance which shelf or cabinet(s) is/are going to be your storage. Once it’s full, no more pantry buys. This will help you think twice before you purchase 7 cans of black beans or 12 packets of taco seasoning – I try and have no more than two of any one thing.
- Costco is your best friend. It’s true. When you can afford it, buying in bulk really pays off, especially for meats and produce. Buying chicken thighs or ground beef in bulk and freezing them in smaller portions is a fantastic way to save money and be ready for
when you’re broke and sobbingthe unexpected.
So, what’s NEVER in my pantry? Let me tell you.
- Ramen noodles. Easy Mac. Canned soup. ‘Instant’ anything (with a few exceptions). Canned vegetables (except corn). Canned fruit. Canned/jarred gravy. Canned meat. Jarred tomato sauce. Frozen prepared foods/dinners/pizzas.
Want to know what I DO keep in my pantry?
- I made this handy Pantry Guide PDF that outlines what I keep in my kitchen. Remember, everyone’s pantry is different – we all like what we like. Don’t go running out to buy everything on my list, instead use it to get some ideas of what you might like to have on hand.