Thursday, January 06, 2011


Today I did a little grocery shopping. Fun grocery shopping. Costco grocery shopping!

Who doesn't like 10 lbs of potatoes for a few pennies? A crate of blackberries in the middle of January? Oh, the power of modernity! And all the while Russia and India are experiencing insane food shortages. I am counting my blessings.

So in the spirit of bulk buying, I wanted to share my list to create a perfectly stocked kitchen pantry. These staples will get you through a visit from impromptu dinner guests or a weekend where the rain leaves you no desire to leave the house. Admit it, you've done it.

Keeping the below items on hand will ensure you can always whip up a fantastic dish with limited notice and even limited fresh ingredients. I'm only including true pantry staples, that is they do not need refrigeration and have a very long shelf life. I'll do another post soon on veggie, freezer and beverage stapes.

In my ultimate kitchen fantasy, my pantry would look just like this. A girl can dream, can't she?
PANTRY STAPLES (a la Lindsey)
  • Beans (canned or dried):
    • Garbanzo - I always keep several cans on hand for use in making homemade hummus or adding to a Moroccan style dish
    • Black - always perfect for Latin dishes
    • Cannellini - good for soups or pureed into a dip
    • Kidney Beans - I love these added into a salad or vegetable and pasta dish
  • Rice:
    • White - basic short grain or sushi rice
    • Basmati - when you're short on time, basmatic only takes 15 minutes!
    • Brown - sometimes I cheat and buy the pre-cooked brown rice in a package
  • Pasta:
    • Penne
    • Rotini - or similar corkscrew style pasta
    • Linguini, Spaghetti or similar long noodles
  • Alternative Pastas:
    • Brown rice pasta is a great, gluten-free pasta alternative; Trader Joe's makes an excellent and inexpensive version. Check out a full review here.
    • Shirataki noodles - these light noodles are made of tofu instead of wheat and have virtually no calories. Though the texture is entirely different than traditional pastas, the calories you save are totally worth it when you remove the guilt of dousing it with a heavy or cheesy sauce.
    • Soba or Udon noodles - pick up a package of these fresh noodles at your local Asian grocer. Since they're fresh they take only a minute to cook and make any Asian noodle dish taste like your favorite take-out. They do need to stay refrigerated but their fridge life is so long, I consider them a pantry staple.
  • Grains, Flours, Baking Items:
    • Quinoa - my favorite thing on earth! This ancient grain is packed with protein. Check out my delicious Quinoa Ratatouille recipe from an earlier post.
    • Couscous - buy in bulk.
    • Lentils - I find green are the easiest to cook. Buy in bulk to save some $$$.
    • Regular white, all-purpose flour
    • Whole wheat flour - though never substitute for white flour in recipes, believe me, you can't inject health into buttery shortbread...
    • Oats - quick cooking oats are the best for either oatmeal or oatmeal cookies. If you're craving oatmeal for breakfast, oats from scratch will always taste better than the pre-packaged, flavored kinds filled that harbor yucky preservatives and sugars.
    • Rice flour - if you made my fabulous Scallion Pancakes, you'd have an excellent way to use this flour. 
    • Corn Meal
    • Corn Starch 
    • Baking Soda
    • Baking Powder 
    • White Sugar
    • Brown Sugar 
    • Honey
    • Molasses - I promise you're going to come across a cookie recipe that asks for this and since the shelf life is a million years, it's good to just keep around. 
  • Canned Vegetables & Condiments: 
    • Canned tomatoes - whole, diced and/or paste; never get the seasoned kind and always check the dates on the cans before buying.
    • Olives - black, green or kalamata.
    • Canned Salsa Verde - I love this stuff in sauces, on rice or any Mexican-themed dished I'm making. It's easy to use and adds a great spice. If you don't feel like buying it, you can make it from scratch, like I did
    • Canned Artichokes - makes a great addition to salads, pastas.
    • Canned Hearts of Palm - I am obsessed with these. I recently went to a restaurant with a salad bar (classy, I know) and I basically filled half my salad plate with hearts of palm. Don't you just feel cool knowing you're eating the heart of a palm tree?
    • Canned fruits, veggies and jams from Mom and Grandma - I have the luxury of coming from a family that cans, so I usually have several jars laying around. Here's what's currently in stock from La Casa Rosenberg:
      • Plum Jam
      • Apricot Jam 
      • Strawberry Jam
      • Tomato Jam (of my own devising, it's deadly good)
      • Dilly beans (pickled green beans)
      • Corn Salsa (sweet and sour corn kernels with bells pepper and onions) 
      • Citrus Marmalade (which I made yesterday and it didn't turn out, so not sure I'll be posting on it, sadly) 
      • Chow Chow - classic American picked veggies 
  •  Misc. 
    • Nuts - always keep a bag or two of your favorites. I generally keep almonds, walnuts and pistachios for use in baking, or as a crunchy topper for salads and mains.
    • Dark Chocolate Bars - a few bars of good quality chocolate go a long way in baking a quick dessert or cookies when you don't have chocolate chips on hand. Go for milk chocolate if you have no tastebuds :)
    • Crackers - a nice mixed box of appetizer crackers are all you need when the randoms show up.
    • Canned Tuna - the only canned meat I will ever recommend buying. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app is the best around, so I go by it's logic. Look for canned Albacore or Skipjack Tuna that says "Troll" or "Pole-and-line" on the packaging. To learn more, visit their site to look at all of their seafood reviews.

I hope this list will guide you in building the perfect pantry. If you have any additional suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below,

1 comment:

lauren said...

Linds-I thought that was a picture of your actual pantry...and I was going to have to hunt you down, steal your identity and move in.