Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stocking Your Pantry with the Basics (Guest Post)

A well thought out pantry stocked with basic staples is a lifesaver for the busy cook. When you have the essentials for easy to prepare meals on hand, you’re more likely to cook than rush out for some less than healthy fast food substitute. (Consider keeping a few recipes handy specifically designed to use such non-perishables for a fast and healthy weeknight meal, for those nights when you’re too tired to think.)

Pantryphoto © 2011 mullica | more info (via: Wylio)
Haven’t got a pantry? Any protected indoor spot that’s cool and dry and accessible to the kitchen will work fine, even a basement, closet, free-standing cabinet or garage will work, as long as it doesn’t get too hot or cold and affords protection from rodents and other pests.

Store flours, sugars and grains in glass storage jars with screw-on lids to reduce pest infestations. Plastic is lightweight and less fragile but glass does not contain chemicals that can leach into food during long storage periods. Ideally, tape a small piece of paper with the date (and type of food if necessary) so that you use older items first and can easily discard any that are well beyond their life expectancy.
Stock similar items together—flours, grains pasta and rice; cans of vegetables and sauces; glass jarred items; etc., for easier retrieval, always keeping the older items in front. Place less stable items on boards or cardboard if your shelves are slotted.
Pasta with Garlic, Anchovies and Capersphoto © 2009 Robin | more info (via: Wylio)
How you stock your pantry naturally rests on your style of cooking. But having the basics on hand means that you can easily throw together a quick meal of, for example, angel hair pasta tossed in garlic and oil with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts in 15 minutes or less. Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started, broken into sections.
  • Rice, Couscous, Oatmeal and other grains
  • Pasta
  • Lentils
  • Dry Beans
  • Flour—all purpose, cake, whole wheat, bread, etc.
  • Sugar
  • Bread mixes
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Salts—table, kosher, sea salts, etc.
  • Baking supplies—baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, light and dark brown sugars, baking chocolate, chocolate and other flavored chips, buttermilk powder, dried raisins and other fruits
  • Nuts—walnuts, pine/pignoli, almonds, etc. (these should be frozen unless used regularly as they can go rancid)
  • Oils and cooking spray
  • Vinegars—balsamic, white, wine (red, white), sherry, etc.
  • Sauces*—steak, barbecue, Worcestershire, tartar, ketchup, soy, hot sauce, etc.
  • Mustards*
  • Mayonnaise*
  • Baking extracts—vanilla, almond, etc.
  • Jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys, etc.
  • Bottled clam juice
  • Capers
  • Pickles
  • Canned vegetables, fruits, tomatoes (diced, pureed, whole, stewed, paste and sauces)
  • Canned and jarred seafood—tuna, salmon, crab, anchovies, etc.
  • Artichoke hearts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and other specialty items
  • Soups and broths (vegetable, chicken, beef, fish)
  • Beans (navy, kidney, black, cannellini, pinto, chickpeas)
  • Cereals
  • Snack Foods
  • Cookies
*May need refrigeration after opening. Check the label.
Chef Lilia Liu is the executive chef and co-founder of Elle A Cooking, a cooking class school in Los Angeles, CA. If you are searching for Cooking Classes Los Angeles, then visit Elle A Cooking. You can learn more about her recipes and organic produce by visitng her cooking blog.

1 comment :

  1. I'm trying to be so good when I go shopping now with my meal plan and only buying what I need that week. But I do need to stock my pantry, good to have on it.