If you’re going to cook most of your meals yourself as well as doing big batches of recipes to freeze or can, you need a fully stocked pantry. Your pantry will need to be organized in such a way so that at a glance you can see what you have and what you’re running low on.
The staples you will need in your pantry are things like flour, yeast, sugar, salt, pepper, butter, stock (chicken, vegetable, beef, whatever you use the most), bread crumbs, pasta, rice, (other dry goods you use a lot like quinoa, lentils beans, etc.) canned tomatoes if you make a lot of pasta, tomato paste, dried pasta, dried herbs and seasonings etc. This list will change to reflect what you make the most for your family and based on your diet (vegetarian, vegan etc.) This is a list to get you started or make you think about the things you use the most.
My tips for keeping a pantry clean an organized are as follows:
I put my dry goods in containers because we get mice from time to time. In my condo experience, we have lived in buildings with cockroaches. You need to be so careful with food items if you don’t want roaches in your unit.
Occasionally you may even bring a pest in from the store without noticing the product was contaminated. I have brought pantry weevils in the house in a package of tortillas. If all of your dry goods are in containers you can isolate a pest and get rid of it without having to call the exterminator or attracting new pests into your home. I even keep my flour in containers to deter mice.
Label the containers clearly so you know what everything is and how old it is. Dry goods do expire! Sometimes baking powder looks like custard powder; you need to know what everything is.
Group like items together. For example, keep all of your baking supplies in one cupboard. This saves time because you don’t need to search every cupboard to find what you need.
Use clear containers. Replace things as you’re getting low. Don’t wait until you’ve completely run out of often used ingredients. Clear containers allow you to see how much you have left without having to go and open everything.
For certain items like different types of rice that all cook using different methods, I always cut the instructions out of the package and put them directly into the canister so there is no guessing.
Keep dried herbs fresh. Every fall I clean out my spice cupboard. Because we tend to use dried herbs all winter I like them to be really fresh. I wash out my jars and let them dry overnight, then I go to the bulk store for what I didn’t grow myself, and buy all the herbs I need and refill my jars. If you do this every fall you will always have nice herbs to use. Again, label the jars really well. Can you tell at a glance which one is oregano and which is marjoram?
A magickal side note: it is bad luck to run out of salt completely. Keep a jar of salt at the back of a cupboard and never use it. Good luck for all!
Wash out your pantry shelves periodically. I like to do this every month, but most folks do it every change of the season. Keeping the shelves clean will also keep pests out of your cupboards.
Keep tabs on the dates of your canned goods. These expire as well. Rotate your pantry so new items go at the back and older items are at the front. This will ensure you’re never throwing out food.
Keep track over a few months what you use the most out of your dry goods and canned goods and then you will have a working list of staples you should always have in the house. This will make planning meals and throwing meals together in a pinch easy and stress free.