How a Well-Stocked Pantry Saved the Day
Recently, my family and I went away for a trip. Before we left, I made sure to use up as much of our food as possible, after all, who wants to come home to spoiled milk and mushy or moldy vegetables? But as we drove up to the house upon our return, I suddenly had a moment of panic: what was I going to feed everyone for dinner? It was late and we were tired, but I was reluctant to order take out when we hadn’t had a well-rounded meal all day (and after all the money we’d been spending), so I decided to dig in and see what I could pull together.
30 minutes later dinner was on the table.
This is not because I’m a magician. It was all thanks to my well-stocked pantry.
You see, when I looked through my cupboards I found a box of pasta and a can of tomatoes. I also had an onion, some garlic, one leftover carrot, and a bit of frozen spinach. This meant that while the pasta cooked, I was able to throw together a quick skillet tomato sauce and dinner was done!
Whether you are seasoned cook or a rookie just getting started, building up a well-stocked pantry is an investment that will save you time, money, and help you to eat healthier.
The Virtues of a Well-Stocked Pantry
As I see it, here are the six virtues of a well-stocked pantry:
Saves Money 1: Less Take Out
While ordering take out is a nice thing to do from time to time, unless you are very well off, getting take out often is going to take a toll on your bank account. Having a well-stocked pantry not only allows for quick and easy regular cooking, but will also provide you with options for those times when either you don’t have a plan or don’t want what you do have planned.
Saves Money 2: Take Advantage of Sales
As you start to create your well-stocked pantry, you will come to realize that you have certain staples that you depend on. Once you know what those staples are, you can take advantage of grocery store sales and coupons.
There are certain foods that I check every week, even if they aren’t on my list, so that I can grab them if they are on sale. My list includes:
- canned tomatoes
- canned beans
- grains such as pasta, rice, and couscous
- canned fish (especially tuna, sardines, and anchovies)
- favorite cuts of meat (so I can freeze them)
- favorite breads (also freezable)
- frozen peas, broccoli, and spinach
- butter (freezable as well)
- Parmesan cheese
- jams and jellies
- favorite condiments
- coconut milk
- long-lasting produce, such as apples, carrots, onions, and garlic
Make sure to check out my full list of pantry staples.
A a well-stocked pantry will save you time in two ways. First, you’ll take fewer last minute trips to the grocery store for a missing ingredient. And second, you’ll find that your weekly trips take less time because you already have a lot of what you need.
Less Food Waste
This might actually be my favorite reason for keeping your pantry well-stocked because not only is it another way that you save time and money, but it also helps the planet and makes you feel like a little bit of a cooking badass.
You see, when you have staples on hand, it is easier to turn leftovers into other meals. Use eggs to turn your leftover vegetables and grains into a frittata. Leftover proteins can fill quesadillas, top pizzas, make sandwiches, and even be added to pastas. Remaining rice can become fried rice. The options are endless!
Research shows that home cooking is almost always healthier than eating out. And since a well-stocked pantry will help you to do more home cooking and feed yourself more consistently, you can be confident that your overall diet will also become healthier.
Builds Your Confidence in the Kitchen
This is my other favorite reason to have a well-stocked pantry, since one of my goals with The Scramble is to help people to become more confident in the kitchen. As we all know, the more you practice a skill, the better at it you become. This is, of course, true of cooking as well. And when you have staples available to cook and experiment with, you make it easier to cook more often and build that confidence.
How to Build a Well-Stocked Pantry
So, now that I’ve convinced you that stocking your pantry is well worth it, how do you know what to stock your pantry with? The first step is to think about what you like to cook and eat. Then use those ideas to jot down a list (on paper or in your phone) of ingredients that often go into those dishes, focusing on the ones that are shelf stable, freezable, or long-lasting.
If you need inspiration in creating your pantry staples list, check out mine.
Then, you’ll go through you pantry to see what items you’ve got plenty of and which ingredients you need to stock up on.
If your list ends up being really long, then you have a choice: either you can stock up all at once or you can add a few items into the pantry each week. If your budget is limited, then you will definitely want to go with the second option.
Once your pantry is relatively well-stocked, then you will go into maintenance mode. Each week, when you make your grocery list, make sure to check your pantry to see which of these staple items you are running low on so that you can re-stock. Pretty soon, checking for these items (and if they are on sale) will become second nature and your kitchen will always be well-stocked with the staples necessary for creating quick and easy meals at a moments notice.
Do you have reasons why you think a well-stocked pantry is important? Share them in the comments!
Need some cooking inspiration for that well-stocked pantry? Check out The Scramble’s family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!