Living in an old farmhouse with (putting it mildly) limited storage space and with two active little girls running around, one area I really try to keep on top of is organization. By the end of each day our house has toys scattered everywhere and once everyone has settled down for the night, I quickly go through each room and put everything back where it belongs. I'm especially particular about keeping our kitchen and subsequently the pantry as organized as possible. It makes cleaning and putting away groceries a breeze and also helps when putting on a meal.
Since I recently gave our pantry a seasonal cleaning
and I was drawing a blank when it came to a blog post, I thought I'd share my pantry staples and a few things that help me.
I know I've shown you our pantry before, but in case you missed it, it's actually a huge old cabinet I found at an antique store. I was so thankful when we moved into our house that I already had it on hand because it immediately served a purpose! The door squeaks every time you open it and its rustic characteristics definitely make it feel like it's always been here (smile).
My pantry is stocked with pretty much the exact same things all the time. I always know what I have and therefore what I'm running low on.
My pantry's closest friends are mason jars. I like to store my food items in glass versus plastic, and mason jars not only work great for actual canning, but they are also a very inexpensive and effective way of storing pantry goods. I also use baskets and containers for storing smaller or grouped items.
My pantry baking essentials are baking soda, baking powder, and pure vanilla extract. I also keep cocoa powder and chocolate baking bar(s) on hand. I store the majority of these in... yep, you guessed it... mason jars (smile).
Oils and Vinegars
The oils I keep stocked are extra virgin olive oil (I always have plenty of this), coconut oil and sesame oil. I keep a wide variety of vinegars, including apple cider, balsamic, rice, red wine and white wine. The majority of these come packaged in such pretty glass bottles, but these little glass cruets also work great (I've seen these widely available - I think mine came from Wal-Mart or Target).
There are so many flours available now it's amazing. I haven't delved much into the flour world (although I would like to), so the flours I always have are pretty simple: unbleached all-purpose, whole wheat, unbleached self-rising, and cornmeal. I get asked quite frequently about the glass canisters I store my flours and sugars in. I buy these inexpensive canisters at Wal-Mart. The lids do not not have a seal, but I have never had any issues and I have used them for several years... I love them.
Can you believe I forgot to take a photo of any sweetener?! I keep stocked with unrefined cane sugar, organic brown sugar, honey, molasses, agave nectar (delicious with hot tea) and maple syrup. I keep my sugars in glass canisters as well.
My husband and I both drink one cup of coffee a day (I can't ever seem to give this up) and I drink a lot of peppermint tea. I like to store these in glass containers too, like this vintage coffee canister.
I typically cook my beans from scratch, which is actually easier than it sounds (smile). Right now I have pintos, cannellini, and chickpeas. Pintos are my favorite... my mom frequently cooked a pot of pintos growing up. She was raised in New Mexico where many dinners consisted of pinto beans and warm tortillas. You just can't beat a pot of freshly cooked pinto beans!
I have a wide variety of spices and actually have an entire shelf in my pantry devoted for storing them. My most used baking spices are ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. I don't use dried herbs quite as frequently these days as we have herbs growing in the garden, but I still keep staples like thyme, parsley, basil, rosemary and oregano. And of course, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper get used on a daily basis. I don't always have access to a store that sells spices in these glass jars, but I love them. After I use all of a spice, I wash the jars and reuse them.
This past summer I canned and canned and canned tomatoes. Ugh! Many afternoons I was sweaty, hot and tired... and I kept going by reminding myself of the winter months when we would enjoy tomatoes from the garden and it would all be worth it. I can say it now... It really was worth it. Just about the only canned goods I've bought in recent months are tomato paste, tuna and salmon.
Nuts and Seeds
I usually have almonds, walnuts and pecans... either all or at least one (smile). Sometimes I buy seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower, too. I have a big jar of popcorn kernels... I know it shocks most people (Mom) that we don't have a microwave. When we moved ours stayed with our previous home as it was located above the stove and I discovered (with limited counter space) I really didn't use or need one anyway.
I try to keep like items grouped together and (although not always possible) everything within easy reach. Sometimes I buy a little prepackaged snack for Justus or the girls, but I suppose my pantry might seem a little shocking now that I 'm writing about it... I cook and bake just about everything from scratch and have for so long that I hardly think about it. Over the years cooking and baking has become something I love to do and I also appreciate knowing exactly what ingredients my family's eating.
Due to limited space in the pantry cabinet, I also store a few pantry staples elsewhere. Potatoes are stored in a bag in an old milk crate on top of the refrigerator and onions in a basket that sit in the little cabinet beside the pantry cabinet.
Oh, how I love grains. Rolled oats, steel-cut oats, rice, millet, pasta...yum. And as you can see, I'm just about due for a trip to the grocery store to stock back up! These grains are stored in large vintage mason jars that are displayed on the open shelves of my wood cabinet next to the pantry.
I took these pictures while the girls were napping so I don't have any photos of their little hands helping, but I did have somebody for company... Huck in the laundry basket (smile).
Have I ever told you that my favorite part of blogging is reading your comments and emails? Since I love to hear from you, I thought it would be fun to ask you a question about your pantry (if you've managed to read this far that is!).
What is your most used pantry item?
Hmm, I had to think about mine for a minute. I suppose my pantry door probably squeaks the most for extra-virgin olive oil. I'm not sure I've cooked a supper without using a little of it in something (smile).