I was going to have this be: “and how has it changed over time” but I can’t find a previous post about what we always keep on hand. There’s descriptions of cooking systems, which includes a brief overview of the pantry system, and a post about what to cook when you’re really broke, but nothing on the basic question. So the basic question will come first!
So what is pantry cooking? Pantry cooking is when you always keep certain things in your pantry (and refrigerator/freezer– not literally just your pantry) so that they’re on-hand so that you can decide what to make without having to menu plan or make extra trips to the grocery store. You combine having the ingredients on hand with having a repertoire of things that you can make with those ingredients. You can buy in bulk, and when you’re close to running out, you make sure to buy more even if you don’t have any particular menu item in mind that will be using it. Here’s a quote from the cooking system post:
I always have the ingredients for spaghetti, bean chili, tomato soup (and grilled cheese sandwiches), lots of rice/quinoa dishes, and so on. My pantry is full of cans of tomatoes, beans, and grains, and I always have eggs, milk, onions, carrots, and usually celery on hand. These, along with sauces and mixed frozen veggies, fruit, and/or nuts, can be turned into any number of meals, especially with chicken and bacon in the freezer. I used to also keep potatoes, but they don’t work well with my metabolism so that’s out (sweet potatoes aren’t as versatile)… no more occasional fry-ups. When something is used up, a new one is bought to replace it. If there’s a sale, we stock up. This saves time and can save money, but can get boring if you’re not feeling especially creative. (In the summer, creative juices are flowing… not so much during the school year.)
Also, if you overspend one month, you can make up for it by eating off your pantry the next month.
All of the food in your house isn’t considered your pantry under this system, only the stuff that you always keep on hand. The seasons and sales will provide different meals than will just using your pantry alone.
basic condiments (mustard, ketchup, mayo)
carrots, celery, apples
minced garlic (yes, we should use regular garlic and mince it ourselves but we only do that for special dishes)
sour cream or yogurt
some kind of fresh green thing (like lettuce)
vinegars, soy sauce, tabasco
spaghetti, other pastas
various canned beans
various canned tomato products
red wine, white wine, brandy or sherry
tea, coffee beans
huge amount of spices
salts, flours, baking soda, baking powder, sugars, cocoa powder, vanilla
chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts
boxed macaroni and cheese
TJ’s sauces (ex. red curry)
trail mix, almonds, raisins
fruit cups/applesauces for kids’ lunches
frozen mixed veggies of various kinds
frozen chicken breasts
frozen berries of various kinds
ground beef or buffalo
Do you have foods that you always make sure to keep on hand? What are some of the things you try to never run out of? How has your pantry changed over time?