Making meals day by day and going to the grocery store every few days to get what you need may seem fun and adventurous but in reality, it’s more costly, stressful, and time-consuming. Having a stocked pantry means making the pantry your mini grocery store! How amazing is that? It does take some time to get used to, I still think I am out of something in my upstairs pantry but then remember ‘oh ya I have a lot of stock downstairs!!’ So I always have to remember to check their first.
The benefits of having a pantry are great though -you always have the basics on hand so you can whip up whatever you need, you don’t have run out to the store when you’re out of a basic, and with everything that’s going on in the world, having control of your food supply (when the shelves at the grocery store dwindling) is key!
When I think about the perfect stocked pantry (and freezer) it goes a little something like this: pasture-raised, non-GMO meat grown by us, veggies from my summer garden, tons of mason jars with preserves from the garden, chickens laying fresh eggs for us and a milking cow providing us with all our dairy needs! Things like sugar, flour, baking supplies, coffee are all stocked up.
Doesn’t that sound nice?? It may seem too far fetched but it’s not! Even if you don’t grow 100% of your own veggies and fruit or don’t have meat animals or dairy animals, there is a way to have that perfect stocked pantry and freezer of your dreams with healthy, nutritional foods.
Stock Your Pantry
Pasta – You can make your own fairly easily but if you don’t want to it’s nice to have a few different varieties on hand. A long noodle, a short noodle, and a small one for making soups are nice.
Rice – You can practically live off rice. It’s such a versatile option to have in the pantry. I like to look for any non-GMO rice that is on sale and have a good value. Spend money on better rice as it tends to contain arsenic.
Flour – Another must-have item! From pasta to baked goods, to gravy, flour is sure a star. I like to use an organic, non-GMO all-purpose flour. If you are into making pasta a lot a 00 blend is ideal. And if you are gluten-free, a GF AP or almond flour are great.
Beans – We don’t eat a ton of beans at all, so this is not something I stock up on regularly. They are great though as canned and dried beans both last a long time.
Sugar & Powdered Sugar – Love it or hate it, we all need a little sugar sometimes! Organic raw sugar is best. if you do a lot of baking try to have a brown sugar available as well. It’s good to have powdered sugar on hand too for baking! Apparently, you can make your own with a Vitamix, but I haven’t tried it.
Maple Syrup – I love maple syrup!! We go through a lot here with baking, recipes, pancakes, smoothies, etc. I like to buy it from a local guy and buy it in bulk!! We like amber syrup, organic.
Honey – Same with honey, buy from a local business and depending on if you use honey a lot buying in bulk is great too. We don’t use it as often as maple syrup, but we do use it for tea, sweetening dishes, and baking occasionally. We like raw honey, organic.
Stock/Broth – This is a must-have item. We use broth a lot, from soups to rice dishes, to the gravy and everything in between. If you want the best bang for your buck, I recommend buying soup bones from your local grass-fed farmer (or if you raise your own animals, use those bones) and making a huge batch of bone broth. It’s super easy, super hands-off and provides you with the best broth – for your health and your wallet. Canning them as well allows you to have it all winter!
Tomato Sauce – Another versatile staple! We tend to grow a lot of tomatoes in the summer and can them to use all winter. I just make a tomato sauce , that can then be transformed into a bunch of different things: pasta sauce, pizza sauce, saucy eggs, rice dishes, tomato paste, etc. If you didn’t grow a bunch of tomatoes to can, buying crushed tomatoes in cans or whole skinned tomatoes is great too.
Olive Oil – A great staple for salads! We try not to heat olive oil in our house because of the poly-unsaturated fats. So instead we use olive oil raw for salads, on top of pizza, and drizzled on other dishes.
Coconut Oil – I also like to have this on hand for baking and sometimes cooking. This is a safe fat to heat. So sometimes I’ll roast sweet potatoes in it, or make my pancakes with it. I also like it for baking, as it’s a great replacement for butter.
Fat – For cooking and heat we use fat!! People, fat is good. I save the bacon fat whenever we cook bacon, and duck fat whenever we cook duck. It lasts in the fridge for months and us super healthy for you. I store it in a mason jar and off you go! Label it though…
Vinegar – We love apple cider vinegar! My husband drinks it by the spoonful haha. We use on salads mostly. That and balsamic vinegar, we go back and forth. But either is good to store in bulk because they last so long.
Spices – Salt and pepper are a great start! We like Redmond’s salt! Other dried spices you might want to have include: basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, marjoram, chives, sage, mint, dill, lavender, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cornstarch, and cream of tarter.
Other – If you are adventurous and like to make Indian and Asian dishes then think about having the following on hand: soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, fish oil, sesame oil, curry powder and coconut milk.
Baking Soda & Baking Powder – Try finding a recipe without these! A must-have.
Cocoa Powder & Chocolate Chips – Another great thing to have for baking. Who doesn’t love chocolate??
Vanilla Extract – Super great to have on hand. Everything tastes better with vanilla. You can even use it to make a homemade vanilla latte! I like to buy the real stuff, but if you’re even savvier, you can easily make your own by getting a vanilla pod and alcohol!
Yeast (or live cultures) – Great for baking bread and other yummy things. Buy in bulk because it’s cheaper, and try to find a non-GMO brand. And it would also be a good idea to get a sourdough starter going, this comes in handy if yeast is sold out or you’re unable to get some. A sourdough starter is essentially a wild yeast as it has fermented on its own. Use it for sourdough bread, pancakes, crackers, and much more!
Oats – Oats make lots of yummy things like pancakes, muffins, bars, loaves, etc. They store great and also make a great breakfast! I like to have a steel cut for oatmeal mornings and instant oats for baking.
Onions, Garlic & Potatoes – All of these three items are great for pretty much every recipe. They store great in a dark space and you can buy in bulk and they will last you all winter. Try to get from a local farmer if you didn’t grow your own, and get them organic!
Carrots, Squash & Cabbage – Other great veggies to hand throughout the winter that store well if properly done. I like this post on how to store produce throughout the winter.
Who doesn’t love snacks! Here are some ideas to have on hand: peanut butter and jam, granola bars, chocolate, chips, nuts, crackers, popcorn, etc.
Water – Bottles are great to have in case of emergency, but everyone knows bottles are bad for the planet and contain BPA. A couple of other ideas include Berkley gravity-fed water filter, IBC tote filled with water and a splash of bleach – it won’t be toxic in that small of an amount and one of those last 2 people 1 year), or a pump for your well that can draw water up by hand withouth power.
Coffee/Tea – Because who can start a morning without coffee…???
Milk – Milk in cartons is a good idea but doesn’t last too long.
Fun Drinks – I mean, I know wine isn’t essential, but it’s nice to have some in the pantry. Even some juice for the kids, or fun sparkling beverages too!
Stock Your Freezer
Chicken, Pork, Beef, Fish, Turkey, Game – All great to have in the freezer. Depending on what you raise, what’s local to or if you hunt, this will change greatly for the family. Take count of how much meat you eat and try to multiply it for the coming winter ahead. If you don’t raise your own meat, most farms will do bulk freezer orders!
Veggies + Fruit
Bulk Veggies – Frozen veggies either store-bought or home-grown are great to have during the winter! They liven up any recipe. I like to have: broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, peas, kale, and swiss chard.
Bulk Fruit – Great to have when you want something sweet but nothing is in season. I like to have: a berry mix and a tropical fruit mix. It’s also great to have local berries frozen from the summer (we just moved to Alberta so I’m excited to see whats native and wild here!).
Dairy + Other
Cheese & Butter – When the first lockdown for covid happened I realized I needed a way to store bulk cheese… We love cheese. So I froze them. I also froze butter. It was amazing!
Milk & Eggs – I also tried freezing milk and cream.. it worked but once the expiry date had come and gone it was questionable using the thawed product. I encourage you to get a local dairy source and chickens for fresh eggs! There are lots of ways to preserve eggs: pickled, freeze-dry, cooked and frozen. And to boot, fresh unwashed eggs will store on the counter for 3 months.
Bread/Wraps – If you’re not a baker or not comfortable making your own, having a supply of frozen bread, bagels, wraps, etc. is always a good idea. Once frozen they will last for months.
So there you have it! I know everyone can’t do this all at once because it is a lot of money. I don’t have it all either. But each week I buy a couple of things and it starts to build up. The art of being prepared is one that takes time! Don’t forget to download your checklist above!
I’d love to know what you guys think or if I missed anything in the comments below!