There was such a great response to the Menu Planning tips a few weeks ago, that I wanted to follow it up with a post on the basics of my pantry staples. Having a well-stocked pantry/refrigerator/freezer can revolutionize how you menu plan and cook.

The Def.
The pantry staples I am referring to are foods I use constantly and usually play into my menu in some shape or form. These foods reside in my closet pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Many times, I don’t even have to put them on my grocery list because I have them already on hand. I keep a running list on my whiteboard of the staples I have run out of during the week. I simply add them to my grocery list next round and woila! my pantry/refrig/freezer is stocked again. (Just for clarity: I don’t buy ALL the foods you see on the list EVERY grocery trip…it’s a revolving list and I replace the foods as I run out of them. Some items last longer than others so while I am always replacing the eggs and milk, the cornmeal and balsamic vinegar last a bit longer.)

Why Bother??
If you are wondering about the merits of pantry staples, let me tell you why I like having these standard foods on hand at all times. Not only is it handy to be able to “shop” from my pantry first before even getting to the store, but the pantry staples are also invaluable for planning a last minute dinner when the original plan didn’t work out or taking dinner to a family on short notice or overturning meatloaf night in favor of chicken wraps instead or (and most importantly), satisfying a craving for chocolate chip cookies that have to be made right.this.very.minute. I mean, not like that whole cookie thing ever happens to me. I’m just saying if it does happen….I want to be prepared.

Another reason I like staying on top of my pantry staples is because I am a big improviser when it comes to recipes so having on-hand supplies makes for a dreamy situation when I am short a jalapeno but happen to have a can of green chiles in the pantry. Each person will probably keep different foods close at hand, based on your menu preference, but no matter how you make up your list, it’s a great way to stay on top of the chaos of the kitchen.

Here’s The Deal.
I’ve put together a table that lists all the pantry staples I use. In the left hand column I’ve listed the food item and the brand preference, if I have one. Note: I am not getting paid by the companies whose brand I support. In reality, I am a shop-around kind of girl – I’ll buy generic or what is on sale most of the time, but I have a few items that have made me brand-loyal. This is because either a) it is a healthier option I can’t find in generic or b) I’ve come to love the product and buy it when I can. I’ve included those details on the chart. If you use a different brand than I do, well, I guess (big sigh) we can still be friends. If no brand preference is listed, I buy whatever is on sale.

In the right hand column, for most of the items, I’ve detailed what recipes I use that make it convenient to have the food as a pantry staple and the quantity I like to keep on hand. Many of the ingredients are self-explanatory.

Oh, and by the way,
my happy hips and thighs thank you in advance for not calling attention to the fact that the category of “Baking Goods” happens to be significantly longer than all of the other sections.

Click HERE to view My Pantry Staples

…and Happy Pantry Stapling!