Every January, my pantry inevitably needs an in-depth examination. So I clear out the remnants of holiday foodstuffs that have collected – candy canes, cracker fragments, sprinkles and other cookie decorations – and take a good look at what is left.
A lot of my homemade jam and preserves have been given away as gifts; my stash of nuts, dried fruit and olives has dwindled (as it should over the entertaining season), and there is plenty of space for starting over.
With my intentional food-related goals for the new year at the forefront of my planning, I sit down to write a list of staples I need to stock. I take notice of low granola supplies, the absence of canned beans, and other clues that point to my need for a grocery haul.
The result is a list of basic staples that I think anyone striving to serve wholesome family food should stockpile and I’m sharing it here with you today.
If you’re serious about maintaining a diet of nourishing foods, one of the best things you can do is stock your pantry with quality ingredients. You’ll be inspired to try new recipes – and have the resources to follow through with them – and more inclined to steer clear of prepackaged and processed foods.
9 Foods to Stock in Your Pantry
1. Cereals (hot, not cold)
Easy to source, affordable and nutritious, hot cereals are an ideal breakfast choice. Oatmeal, steel-cut oats, cornmeal, and the all-Canadian Red River are just a few of these energy boosting options. We enjoy hot cereal most weekday mornings, either spooned up with a variety of toppings or prepared in one of these favorite recipes:
- Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- Chai Spice Granola with Dried Apple and Almonds
- Brown Butter-Toasted Oatmeal with Roasted Pears
2. Canned Goods
Most legumes I cook from scratch, but I still like to have their canned versions on hand as well such as beans (black, pinto, and kidney), chickpeas, and even lentils. I buy the organic, low salt varieties, and find they come in handy for the occasional impromptu chili or burrito.
Other canned items I try to have around are coconut milk and diced tomatoes, as well as a few winter pizza toppings such as artichokes and olives.
3. Lentils & Split Peas
They’re versatile, frugal, quick-cooking and healthy, but I’ve told you all that before. Go ahead, fill a few jars with lentils and their counterparts from the bulk section of your local organic store.
4. Good Fats
Because of the varied properties of fats, I like to stock several different fats for both cooked and uncooked dishes. When cooking, I reach for extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and duck or bacon fat. The duck fat I buy rendered and frozen from my local butcher; bacon fat I strain through a paper towel when still hot and store in a jar in the refrigerator. I’ll often finish an dish (vegetable, pasta, sauce, etc) with butter, and that is my preferred substance for baking as well.
For uncooked meals, olive, sesame and nut oils are amazing to have to help elevate salad dressings or drizzle over roasted vegetables.
Fat is a real, wholesome ingredient necessary for our good health; choose wisely when stocking your pantry.
5. Rice and Beans
I’m currently soaking a pot of navy beans to slow cook tomorrow with molasses, onion and a ham bone. One of the most frugal and healthy items you can keep on hand, beans come in a wide assortment, making them suitable for many types of cuisine and dishes.
Brown rice and wild rice do take a bit of cooking time, but their nutty flavors and versatility make the planning well worth the effort. I also store Arborio rice for risottos and sushi rice for when I get a craving.
- Malaysian Shrimp Fried Rice
- Frijoles Rancheros
- Mexican Black Bean Burgers
- Simple Spanish Paella with Chicken and Roasted Red Peppers
6. Whole Grain Pastas
My kids are crazy about pasta, so you’ll find it in all shapes and forms in my pantry. Whole-wheat spaghetti is a must, as is orzo, and the occasional spelt fusilli or other fun shape.
7. Baking Supplies
A lot of baking goes down in my kitchen, so I try to source the best quality ingredients possible. Natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, agave and natural case sugar are always in stock, as are Scharffen Berger Semisweet Dark Chocolate Baking Chunks and plenty of nuts and seeds.
8. Quick Cooking Grains: Cous Cous, Quinoa, Millet & more
Don’t worry if none of those grains sound familiar to you, just introduce them to your repertoire one by one and then marvel at how you ever cooked without them! Perfect for wholesome winter salads or quick sides, these small grains are versatile and pair well with a host of flavors.
9. Flavor Enhancers
Varying in every cook’s repertoire, flavor enhancers can be spices, condiments, or other ingredients that pack a punch. Although yours may differ, some of my favorites include: sriracha sauce, soy sauce, mustards, rice wine vinegar, salts and peppers, quality spices, home grown herbs, and that is just the beginning!
- Ten Ingredients You Absolutely, Positively, Must Have on Your Spice Rack
- What You Need to Know About Buying, Storing, and Cooking with Spices
Are you adding any new ingredients to your pantry this year? What are a few of your staples?