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How important is your pantry? What's in yours right now? What are must haves in there?

Being fortunate to have a walk in extra large room that is my pantry, it's one reason we bought this house. Fanatical about food, means it's stocked to the brim. Different ways for different seasons for me anyway, but always the same staples in there too. I'll mention the 5 main rows and leave the other room to whatever ends up in there. The shelves get larger the further down they go, meaning the top shelf is the narrowest from side to side and the 5th shelf is the widest so has the most side to side room and holds the most.

Top shelf:
Cereals, boxed crackers, boxed cake mixes.
2nd shelf:
All types of cooking oils, I currently have 7 specialty olive oils + other types of oils, all my syrups, honey's and jams and jellies, molassas's and baking liquid sugars.
3rd shelf:
canned soups, boxed soups, canned meats and canned seafoods, canned veggies/potatoes/tomatoes/chilies and beans.
4th shelf:
all baking needs, corn starch, flour[s], sugar[s], baking powder, chips, coconut, nuts, dried fruits, flour, masa harina, corn meal, panko, bread crumbs flavored and plain
5th shelf:
Juices, soda's, waters, broths/stocks, pickles, olives, tapanads, jarred mushrooms, jarred artichokes, jarred roasted onions, jarred roasted peppers, enchilada sauces, dried beans, dried legumes, dried lentils/peas, popcorn kernels, hot cocoa mixes and apple cider mixes, boxed wines for cooking, vinegars, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, salad dressings.

Do you have a pantry that is stocked? What do you have in there, always or sometimes?

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  1. guess I'm the only one that enjoys a well stocked pantry

    6 Replies
    1. re: iL Divo

      I'd call mine overstocked. It's a big closet with nice wire shelves, but then I have more shelving in the garage too, for larger amounts of things like canned tomatoes and pasta, canned soups and so on. And paper goods and water. It did all come in handy for the year my husband was out of work, I worked through most of that and the extra freezer at that time, proving that it's not a bad idea to have a little backup. Almost everything in my pantry was bought on sale, that's why there's such an assortment, and otherwise it's stuff that I know I'll need someday but hard to find, so I grab it when I see it. I'm not going to list everything because the items are surprisingly close to everyone else's. It makes me feel good, no apologies.

      BTW I just realized I don't have any food in my kitchen cabinets, just dishes, glasses and cooking utensils, so we're talking about all the food in my house.

      1. re: iL Divo

        Not everyone is lucky enough to have a pantry. I have to keep very limited resources. I have one narrow cabinet (very small) for canned goods. I have one large double cabinet for spices, vinegars and things like bread crumbs and other "ingredients" that I don't use for baking. I have one lazy susan cabinet I use for dry goods, snacks, baking supples and oils.

        1. re: iL Divo

          Top shelf, scotch. Bottom shelf, peanut butter.

          1. re: beevod

            Stocked enough for me. You could live on that for a minute or two!

            1. re: mamachef

              Agreed and ditto. Give me real food anyday. Funny, I thought this was a site about food for foodies. Hummmm

            2. re: beevod

              O I now understand

          2. My pantry does double duty as the majority of storage for my kitchen, but 3ish shelves are dedicated to food. Top (really eye level) has canned goods (curry pastes, tomato product, coconut milk and tuna), leavening agents, dried fruit and misc. baking. Second has the main flours (bread, ap) as well as dried grains (barley, rice, quinoa), and dried beans. Bottom has sugars, and overflow from the rest of the mess. I also have baskets on top of the fridge that act pantry like with dried pastas, granola bars, cereal, crackers, instant miso, and dry chilies.

            1. For work and for home, I have to keep a well-stocked, constantly evolving pantry. Much more important for work though. At work, the order of the shelves change everywhere but in the no-man's-land of my personal pantry space. Top shelf is bulk baking ingredients, rices (except the ones I refrigerate), beans and pastas. Mid-shelf is all tomato products, canned beans, tuna, and canned broth of every kind; also any jarred or bottled marinades I need on hand. If I'm using canned vegetables, which usually is only green beans by special request for casserole around holiday time, they'd go there too. Peanut butter here as well.
              Bottom Shelf is all spices and oils and vinegars; soy, XO, fish sauce, Wondra, cornstarch, 'root; whatever thickener I need. And on the floor underneath, flats of evaporated and condensed milk, seltzer, juices, sodas, and candy.
              Funny. It's almost identical at home; I never realized that!! Not so much candy, though. :-)

              1. I'm not sure what the ultimate point of this post is, except maybe to preen about how much you've got. Only seven specialty olive oils? Benedica, god bless, as my Calabrian grandmother would say. For every poster, a different answer, dependent on class, life style, family size, culture, habits, you name it, and what's to glean from it?. What's well-stocked to you is excess (and maybe even pointless) to someone else--even to someone who loves and cooks good food.

                11 Replies
                1. re: bob96

                  I just like the window into others kitchens w/out judgement. And I shared to provide one into mine.

                  1. re: corneygirl

                    and that was the point of it corneygirl, appreciate you chiming in...............

                    never ceases to amaze me how many people have nothing much more than bottled water and mustard in their frig. then there are those like us who enjoying seeing what's fun to buy [to add to our kitchen kingdom]

                  2. re: bob96

                    well bob, thanks for your um, point of view on my obviously '"boring to you'' topic.

                    let's see. did you view the topic on Chef Boyarde?
                    it's has like 406 replies and what was it's point?
                    still many including me found it worth replying to.

                    and bob, the point is, I like food, I love to buy it, unusual or common, that's my joy.
                    wanna know how many kinds of chocolate chip [versions or flavors] I have in there? I won't mention because you just may tell me my pantry post is 'pointless''.

                    if you don't want to tell what's in your pantry feel free not to.
                    far as I know, no one is looking over your shoulder saying type type type.

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      I don't think it was pointless, and it is far more interesting than Chef Boyardee, but it did sound a wee bit boastful. I suspect your pantry is larger than my kitchen. I cook from scratch too, but you have a lot of things I simply don't use (bottled dressings, chocolate chips) and I don't have the space or the money to stock all that. Moreover, some of those items would go bad before I could use them.

                      I do keep a pantry, including flours, oils (not seven types of olive oil though; perhaps 2 or 3 - a cheaper cooking one and a pricier one for salads and dips). I have a fair number of Zen Sojurner's supplies, though not as many and almost no sugar (I only purloin the odd sugar packet when having coffee for friends who want sugar in coffee or tea).

                      I live in a central urban area, within short walking distance from a large public market (Marché Jean-Talon) several supermarkets and many "ethnic" grocery shops. So I don't need to lay in vast amounts of anything. I have a large metal kitchen cabinet that is used only as a pantry, and some cupboard shelves devoted to teas, condiments that don't require refrigeration, spices and herbs...

                      1. re: iL Divo

                        Different things are interesting to different people...me personally, I love threads about what people keep in their pantries, what people have for breakfast/lunch/dinner/etc...to each his own, I guess. I feel like what one keeps in one's pantry(like one's purse or even some say one's bathroom) says a lot about the person.

                      2. re: bob96

                        I'm just thinking: why do people who find a thread repellent then respond to it? At the end of the day, NONE of this is of any kind of earthshaking importance. It's done in the spirit of fun, curiosity, love of food. It really is just all opinion, isn't it? And in 100 years, All New People anyway. I enjoy knowing what/how other folks eat/cook/think abut food; this is a forum that provides me with a really good avenue for that. Excess is a very subjective word; what seems excessive to you may be just enough or not enough for me. I like this topic.

                        1. re: bob96

                          Bob, when I taught avocational cooking classes for beginners, Pantry Staples and Cooking From Your Pantry were two favorite topics. Whether an item is standard fare or frivilous is beside the point; what you do with it really is the point. I never had the feeling there was any one-ups-manship going on, simply factual listing.

                          In the classes we used to make lists of what each student already had and what they thought they wanted to add to their pantry. Spirited discussion always followed this because of the different items each person brought to the table. We then created dishes using the pantry items. Without exception, I learned something new each time I taught.

                          Having a well-stocked pantry -- and I will certainly agree that there is a wide gap between what one thinks is "well-stocked" and someone else views as "bare bones" -- is essential for those nights when: 1) all the children are ill and you cannot leave the house, 2) a storm has dumped 15 inches of snow on your driveway and you can't get out, 3) you live far enough away from supplies that having a well-stocked pantry is mandatory, 4) you are too tired to cook - see #1 & 2 above. Having some ideas about what to do with the items is a bonus.

                          You ask "...and what's to glean from it?". My answer is "knowledge". I'm sorry you found this such a silly post; others disagree. Most of us on CH are here to learn from each other and share experiences. Perhaps the next time a post does not appeal to you, you will simply pass it for something of more interest to you.

                          1. re: Sherri

                            Well said (((((((((((((((((Sherri)))))))))))))))))))))) < those are hugs..............

                            Your point about what each of us brings to the table is well taken.
                            Bobby Flay asked a show participant what "that" flavor was in his addition to the let's grill show or whatever. The man quickly answered Grains of Paradise. Bobby's reaction was one of gleeful astonishment. He said he'd be getting some of that stuff. Do you think I was going to ignore a Bobby Flay endorsement? I think not. Do I now have GOP (At first I thought he said rays of paradise but leave it to sharp Chowhounds to know what I was speaking of and correct me, I'm thankful) YOU BET I DO. It is wonderful.

                            You are also correct one upping I leave for others to do.
                            If your pantry was more diverse than mine or you had more
                            room or fun stuff in yours than I do, I'd be tickled & happy for you.

                            1. re: Sherri

                              Bravo, Sherri. :-)

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                +++++++++ 1. Well-put, Sherri.

                            2. re: bob96

                              I guess we each see things differently. I didn't find this post pointless nor boastful. The pantry is an integral part of the kitchen. What seems like excess to some may feel like essentials to others. Just depend on how varied your cooking may be. I know my pantry may seem like excess to you or "even someone who loves to cook good food" but I can cook a Vietnamese dish one day, Indian the next, Middle Eastern the next and so on because I have a pantry that is stocked to fit my style of cooking.

                            3. What do I keep on hand?

                              Sweet 'n low or generic equivalent
                              Tea - good assam and darjeeling, and cheap mamri-style for masala chai (as well as the odd cuppa)
                              hot chocolate mix
                              chocolate chips
                              Flour
                              Canned tomatoes
                              tomato sauce
                              tomato paste
                              canned corn
                              dried kidney beans
                              dried black beans
                              dried canelini beans when I can find them
                              a variety of pasta, including spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, and angel hair
                              Spices - cumin, coriander, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, curry powder, garam masala, methi, kalonji, amchur powder, tarragon, basil, oregano, black pepper, star anise, tamarind, black mustard seed, hing (asafoetida), fennel seed, cloves, cardamom, dried red chilis, chili powder, chili flakes
                              Salt (of course)
                              Cooking oil
                              Peanut oil, when I can afford it
                              Olive oil
                              Pulses/dals - mung, toor, urud, chana, masoor
                              besan (ground chickpea flour)
                              chapatti flour (kind of like whole wheat pastry flour)
                              urud flour
                              rice flour
                              citric acid
                              dosai mix
                              semolina
                              mango puree
                              canned fruit - peaches, apricots, pineapple
                              dried mango
                              dried apricots and peaches
                              raisins, "regular" and golden
                              RICE
                              Dates, when I can find good ones. (At my age the only dates I am likely to get come in boxes, LOL!)
                              sugar
                              brown sugar
                              powdered sugar
                              baking soda
                              baking powder
                              powdered milk
                              balsamic vinegar
                              rice wine vinegar
                              distilled white vinegar
                              soy sauce
                              fish sauce
                              sake
                              ginger paste
                              minced garlic
                              lemongrass
                              Thai basil when I can find it
                              chili paste
                              Sriracha sauce
                              rice noodles
                              bean thread noodles
                              chili oil
                              Some dried cereal, rice krispies, special K, raisin bran, or cheerios
                              oatmeal
                              Strawberry jam
                              Patak's Brinjal pickle (it's an eggplant chutney)
                              couscous when I can find it in bulk
                              those candy coated fennel seeds you see in Indian restaurants sometimes
                              Mac 'n Cheese
                              Mango juice

                              My son keeps a lot of the stuff above around, plus a few other kinds of cereal (I usually only have one or two boxes around, he keeps like 4 or 5)
                              A wide variety of pre-packaged Indian foods
                              A few pre-packaged Thai foods
                              a bunch of those cheap instant noodle thingies and the like from Lipton et al
                              Ramen, bleah!
                              gnocchi
                              more pasta like bowties and rotini, whole wheat or spinach pastas, etc
                              Spaghetti sauce
                              pizza sauce (I prefer to make mine but hey, he's a bachelor)
                              Brownie mix
                              cake mix and icing
                              creamed corn
                              Pesto
                              A variety of mixed fruit juices, like the V8 Splashes, and pineapple-this'nthat
                              Sports drinks
                              Junk food - the kid won't touch a fully hydrated fat, but he'll eat a whole bag of Andy Capp's Hot Fries! Granted not every day, but still, LOL!

                              I'm sure I've left some stuff off, but that's the gist of it.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                Can I move in or how bout we merge :)

                                1. re: iL Divo

                                  That depends! What will you be bringing to the partnership? Hmmmm?

                                  Keep in mind, my son is VERY handsome. Consider it a perk.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    well then missy you keep in mind MY son is very handsome, actually both of them are. but my husband, nope, for him, I for sure don't share..............
                                    *)

                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                      I dunno, I could throw in some peanut butter. Or the buckeyes I use it to make.

                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                        Now you're talkin. I love buckeyes. I've made them once that I can remember. Their flavor reminds me a lot of Draculas' eyeballs that I love love love to make at Halloween. I take them to work and pass them out on a silver tray, the expressions on faces are priceless, it's like, "do I eat this OR scream?" ha ha ha

                                        now about the peanut butter. Oh no you want mine. Oh boy do you ever. I get all mine from up north. I'll be in Vancouver the 3rd of November. I'll come home with as many peanut butters as I can carry-on. Altho some may call that excessive (aaargh) I call it smart 'one stop' shopping. I get their Skippy extra creamy or Kraft velvetized or velvetine or "vel" < something with a French ending. SOOOO smooth. Example of how smooth: our som was
                                        on his way to a long drive to go to work. I was making his 'to go' lunch. He wanted a peanut butter sandwich. Along with the other additives in the lunch sak I made one for him while his wife and I gabbed. On high fiber Whole Earth delicious bread I did the peanut butter (Canadian) and my Amish raw honey from Pennsylvania. He called later that day asking what kind of sandwich that was. I said, "peanut butter, duh (and honey)."
                                        "Mom I don't like honey. But, that was the best peanut butter sandwich I've ever had in my
                                        life. What else was in there?" "Ummm, Canadian peanut & Amish raw honey." Everyone comments on the peanut butter from there. It is so much creamier than what I can buy here. So, long story short
                                        you want mine. :)))

                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                          REALLY? Why do you suppose that is?

                                          I guess it's true, everything really IS better in Canada! So I can get at least TWO things there that I can't get here - healthcare AND super creamy peanut butter.

                                          LOL!

                                        2. re: ZenSojourner

                                          If you're making buckeyes, lady, throw some my way. : )

                                          1. re: mamachef

                                            Nuh uh, I'll share darn near anything EXCEPT my buckeyes!

                                            Bad enough I have to share them with my son!

                                2. Due to space limitations out pantry is spread through four rooms - three cabinets and the counter in the kitchen, bins on the back balcony, a shelf in the random purpose room, and some stacks of plastic shelves in the main room, plus the refrigerator. We cook from a lot of cuisines, and I like to bake, so it can add up to a lot of stuff.

                                  There's a drawer for pre-made seasonings and mixes - dashi, Thai curry pastes, Japanese curry pastes, dip mixes, bouillon cubes, wasabi, salt and vinegar popcorn seasoning, cream stew paste and the like.

                                  A drawer for pasta and noodles - spaghetti, a few types of chunky noodles, thick and thin Japanese noodles, dried ramen, bean threads.

                                  A drawer for beans, legumes and dried fruit - raisins, cranberries, lentils, chickpeas, soba, popcorn, red beans, green beans, pinto beans, cashews, almonds, peanuts (the walnuts are in the freezer because they go rancid), millet, black and white sesame seeds, etc.

                                  A drawer for baking supplies - gelatin, kanten, baking soda, baking powder, food colouring, etc.

                                  A drawer for extra spices that don't fit into the little jars, plus some of the odder shaped packages of things like chaat masala.

                                  Two big drawers for stuff like flour (high, medium and low protein, whole wheat), chickpea flour, cornstarch, panko, dried seaweed, nori, papadums, salt, extra coffee, cornmeal, sweet potato flour, bags of baking chocolate, and other odd shaped or bigger stuff.

                                  A cabinet in the kitchen for jars and big cans- olive, vegetable and sesame oil, wine, rice, black rice, white, malt and balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, tonkatsu sauce, chinese rice wine, cooking sake, hot sauce, oatmeal, ten treasures oats, honey, maple syrup, liquid fructose, plus a sealable plastic bin that holds all sugars in an ant proof location.

                                  Another cabinet which contains spices and herbs on one shelf, including dried peppers, and cereal and the big bags of rice (Chinese and Indian) on the lower shelf.

                                  An upper cabinet with all the teas, coffees, drink mixes, cocoa powder and snack foods.

                                  A shelf in another room that holds extra canned goods, using including chicken broth, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, baby corn, olives, pickles, lime pickle, etc. With the exception of tomatoes and broth (which we use a lot of) and hard to find stuff like olives we generally don't have more than one can of any particular item, for space reasons. We also have extras of the Costco purchased foods - cereal, olive oil - in here.

                                  And some bins out back for non-refrigerated fresh stuff like onion, garlic, ginger, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemons and limes, and things like daikon and tororo in the winter but not the summer.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                    I gave up on the little spice jars and started using half-pint mason jars for my spices. The bags from the Indian market clutter up my cupboard and the tiny spice jars hold, what, 1/4 c. max? So mason jars were the perfect solution. I even re-use used lids since they don't need to seal.

                                    I know what everything is on your list except kanten! And where do you get sweet potato flour and what do you use it for? :) TIA

                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                      I use tiny mason jars too: the 250ml size, and I even have some of the wee 125ml size (these are sold for canning jams, jellies and other treats).

                                      I keep as much as I can in either Mason jars or the French/Italian kind with the spring glass top (Le Parfait is one brand). I find the latter a lot in charity shops and garage sales. It is really important to ward off bugs and spoilage in food storage.

                                  2. I usually keep a lot in my pantry so that I can make something quickly after work--
                                    flour (whole wheat, regular)
                                    sugars (brown, white, powdered)
                                    splenda for baking
                                    corn meal
                                    cooking spray
                                    olive oil
                                    vegetable oil
                                    vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, distilled, asian rice vinegar)
                                    rice (brown, white, wild, sometimes short grain white)
                                    quiona
                                    wheatberries
                                    farro or spelt
                                    oatmeal (the 5 minute cook type, instant)
                                    canned beans (black, white, pinto, kidney, small red, gigante, baked beans)
                                    olives (black, green)
                                    canned tomatoes (paste, crushed, sauce, diced plain, diced with chilis, diced with herbs)
                                    canned tuna
                                    canned chiles (green, chipotle)
                                    canned soup (amy's brand)
                                    canned vegetables (for husband- green beans, carrots, potatoes, corn)
                                    boxed broth/stock (mushroom, vegetable, sometimes chicken)
                                    boxed soy milk/rice milk
                                    pasta (anywhere from 2-10 boxes depending when it's on sale)
                                    canned pumpkin
                                    spices

                                    on a bottom shelf I have paper/plastic plates, cups, silverware

                                    1. How are you guys all so organized that you know exactly what is on each shelf? When I unload groceries, I stand in front of my shelves in the utility room and say "This is a box, it goes on this shelf. This is a can, it goes on this shelf. Oops, no more room here. I'll just throw the rest in random cabinets and pile some on top of the fridge." You all have blown my mind!

                                      36 Replies
                                      1. re: Driftbadger

                                        Driftbadger, I wasn't always so organized, but as I've gotten older I've found the dictum "a place for everything, and everything in it's place" holds true. I certainly wasn't always like this, but as soon as I started raising a family it made things waaaay easier in the long run. It's also pretty much a job requirement - I need to be able to see what's on hand, and how much of it, to plan my shopping trips. That being said, home pantry is in the same general order, but @ work is actually neater because I organize it and it then becomes no man's land, not to be touched! Or even looked at! Or even thought about! by anyone but me. :-)

                                        1. re: mamachef

                                          I was more organized before my family came in to play than I am now. With four kids, I never had the time to organize my mind let alone my cooking supplies. Now that all my kids are grown with only one still at home, I just want to be lazy all the time. I admire you!

                                        2. re: Driftbadger

                                          It is a really nice idea to keep an inventory list of what you have on hand, otherwise you will probably never use any of it. I just update it from time to time, not obsessive about it. I have one of both freezer and pantry, at least the things that don't get used constantly, and it comes in handy when you have surprise guests or don't know what you want for dinner.

                                          1. re: coll

                                            I don't generally shop until we're down to chicken legs, nasty canned corn and I'm baking pan bread, so things not being used isn't really a problem for me. I love the thought of it tho. Everything neatly arranged by use. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve access to this wonderful site. Lol!

                                            1. re: Driftbadger

                                              DB, you belong here same as the rest of us. Folks are on this site who have never and will never stock a pantry, neatly or otherwise, for any reason. If you love and are interested in food, I for one (and I KNOW I'm not the only one) welcome you. If it makes you feel any better, my pantries and kitchen are well-kept, but if you came to my door unexpectedly on a Friday after a week of us working and sorta putting things where there's space, I'd probably want to crawl under the bed before I opened the door!! Ok, it's not thaaaaat bad, but I'm just saying this to indicate that, unless you're truly superhuman, trying to have ALL your ducks in a neat, antiseptic, tidy row is a recipe compleat for a total nervous breakdown. Plus, you raised four kids and I'm sure they're grrreat kids, so if you want to be lazy and set a spell, I totallly encourage you.

                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                Thank you, Mamachef! Three out of four kids are great and one has kind of lost his footing, but he'll bounce back.
                                                I do love food and I do love to try new recipes. My eldest daughter is just like me in that regard. Believe me, we'll tear that kitchen up! She's amused at times at how long I stay at this site. From what I've seen here it's all about good food with good people, so what could be bad about that?!

                                                1. re: Driftbadger

                                                  I do have a lot of stuff in my pantry, but that doesn't mean I know where everything is. Right now I have extra cinnamon, nutmeg, and something else (see I've forgotten already) because I thought there wasn't any when there was!

                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                    It's like me and poultry seasoning, I buy it every year thinking I have some and I do! Like 154 of them now :)

                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                      Oh poultry seasoning, how I do remember thee! That's the thing I used to need once a year at turkey time, and could never find until AFTER I'd already bought another box, LOL!

                                                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                        That's part of the reason I buy small, "bulk" amounts of seasonings. I don't want year old poultry seasoning. I can buy what I need for a few cents and next year buy more.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I keep my spices in another babinet (not the pantry). When my husband went out of town last week, I emptied every thing out just to see what I had. I also threw out the really old stuff (hence, why I waited for DH to be gone, I didn't need additional guilt for being wasteful). Unsure why (maybe a wild bloody mary spree) but I had 4 jars of celery seed. I promise to try and do better.

                                                          1. re: nvcook

                                                            My step mother had spices in her cabinet that I swear must have been as old as I am. Except with things that are odd for me (like poultry seasoning, which I used to need just once a year at bird time, but never need at all anymore since the Great Turkey Day Revolt of 1984) I use the spices in my cabinet up fairly regularly because I cook with the spices I have pretty much every day. At least every day that I cook. But people who lived through the depression - a population that shrinks daily - often feel the need to keep things on hand coupled with a reluctance to throw things out. Hence my step-mon's ancient dried beans, bought in bulk and stored in the garage, and a drawer full of spices some of which must have been decades old.

                                                            She could cook with those beans, I don't know how. I tried slow cooking them for hours but they never softened up. At any rate. Having been raised by people with that mindset, it was hard at first for me to reduce the things I keep on hand to something more manageable. Still, every once in awhile I come across something that has an expiration date which has itself already celebrated several birthdays. Everytime that happens I'm sure it's the LAST time I'll have to throw something out because it was forgotten and shoved to the back of the line. Then in a couple of years, it happens again, LOL! Fortunately it's a one-item-at-a-time sort of thing now, but the first time I cleaned out the old stuff - well, it was hard. Just really hard. LOL!

                                                        2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                          You know ZenSo, I really think most of us buy it every year. Gawd forbid we attempt the royal elegant and elequent stuffy stuffing without it, right?!?!?!?!
                                                          :/

                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                            IS there any other use for it?

                                                            No seriously. Since I abdicated from bird day, I haven't had any use for the stuff. But I cook abnormally high amounts of vegetarian and Indian meals, compared to your average USian home cook.

                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                              rub on bird
                                                              sprinkle in bird
                                                              use in stuffing

                                                              that's it....

                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                Ah. No bird, so no use for Poultry seasoning, LOL!

                                                                Or at least when I do bird it's in a totally different style, more along the lines of cumin and ginger for spices.

                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                  I sometimes use leftover turkey and chicken to make little hand pies wrapped in pastry dough, it's good in there, and I guess it would be nice in pot pie too now that I think of it. Still not going to use up a jar anytime soon.

                                                          2. re: iL Divo

                                                            Hahahahaha.... YES, YES. ME TOO. EVERY YEAR. Thanksgiving gives me poultry seasoning amnesia. It's the same internal conversation while at the grocery store the day before: "Hmm, what else do I need? I've got pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk... may as well pick up some poultry seasoning while I'm here just in case." And then come home and put it with the other six jars. :D

                                                          3. re: ZenSojourner

                                                            I made spice shortbread cookies for work years ago, to take to the shop.
                                                            No recipe only what I thought would be used for holiday flavor. Checking out the pantry, I had very little ground nutmeg, so I went to the market for whole nutmeg. What I found, jars of it on sale, with the grinder inside included, so I bought many. Wrapped the cookies individually, wrapped each bottle of nutmeg, typed out the recipe and handed a package of each to my fellow workers.
                                                            I guess you could say I added to their pantry.

                                                          4. re: Driftbadger

                                                            Driftbadger, not a gol'dang thing. Again, Welcome.

                                                        3. re: Driftbadger

                                                          I've said this before. A friend and I were visiting at her house. Neither of us worked, but raised our baby's at the exact same time, we had privously worked together. She knew my passion, 19 or not, she knew I could cook. Leaving her house one day, baby Breeze in tow, she mentioned she had nothing to make for dinner. I asked how that could possibly be, as way back then, I had enough in my kitchen for an unexpected army. She said since I love to cook and do it with my eyes closed could I please take a peek and verify what she'd just said about having nothing to make for dinner. I stood there, looked in her pantry and frig and took everything out needed, wrote her a note, and said, ""ok, now make dinner, call me when you're done and it's done and GONE."" she still thanks me in wonderment for that long ago time slot in our young precious lives. She thought she had nothing but what she did have was a fairly well stocked pantry. Just sayin....................if it's there, I'll find it cause I can make a meal out of what others can't see..................but.........................she sure can paint!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! < I can not do that...............we all have our talents.

                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                            Great story! I often ask myself, why, if there's nothing to eat in the house, the fridge, freezer and cabinets are all full. Then I rummage around and lo and behold, there are indeed the makings for a meal -- or several.

                                                            As for why it is interesting to know what's in people's pantries... as was pointed out before, knowing how to stock a pantry is a useful skill, as is knowing how to *use* a pantry. There are lots of meal basics that can be found or created from your pantry if you know how to approach meal planning from the perspective of "what can I make with these ingredients" as opposed to "do I have the ingredients to make this recipe"? I remember one day I was having my beloved aunt over for dinner, we were almost ready to sit down to eat and I realized I didn't have anything planned for dessert. What can I make for dessert that will go together quickly with the ingredients I have in my pantry, I thought. Then I pulled out my favorite gingerbread recipe and we had warm gingerbread for dessert.

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              Nicely put and heartwarmingly put, Ruth Lafler.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                if you know how to approach meal planning from the perspective of "what can I make with these ingredients" as opposed to "do I have the ingredients to make this recipe"
                                                                ~~~~~~~~
                                                                BINGO, Ruth! I do that all the time vs. finding a recipe I like and having to buy the things I need for it. I really *enjoy* knowing I've got X, Y, and Z, with these herbs and spices - now how do they all work together to make a tasty meal?

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  If you keep things you like in your pantry it's not that hard to make something you like from them!

                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  Thank you Ruth, very kind.
                                                                  Warm fresh home made gingerbread has been a favorite of mine for many years. Smart choice coupled with a few key on hand ingredients and you had the makings of a perfect heartwarming cozy dessert. All I'll say here is brilliant choice from a loving niece for her much loved auntie.

                                                                  At 26 w- 2 kids, it was the monthy Sunday night church social where everyone brings a "something" to share. I usually did enough extra for the several that showed up but forgot to bring an addition. So this particular night I wanted to do one more dessert. Went to the pantry to familiarize myself with the contents. It was cold out, so I wanted to literally take whatever I made out of the oven and still be able to serve it warm. What better (I thought)
                                                                  than a gingerbread sheet in a lasagna baking dish. Nothing . Except to make a very warm lemon sauce to gently top each piece. Moms frozen "Myers" butter/sugar/egg yolk/zest/juice/vanilla/pinch salt, double boiler was warm and a little tiny bit tart to the delicate sweet spicy cake.

                                                            2. re: coll

                                                              If I was home, and I'm not, I'd pull up my 5 pages that are typed out, with how many next to each entry, and done per shelf. It also says if it's new or opened already, opened as in corn meal or coconut or chocolate chips. That way, when I'm thinking something like çould've sworn I had French Fried Durkee onions in here but can't find, I just pull out my list [it's (all 5 pages) bulldog clipped inside on the door organizer] look on the page I know it 'should' be on and go from there. Conversely, when I use example: 2 cans of bean with bacon soup like I did a couple of weeks ago, it gets erased. So I keep a running total and also see what I need to buy more of or what I'm stocked up on. My mother in law did this and I took her lead. Oh and she was anything but excessive, as she was head secretary to the President of one of the largest most respected Corporations in the world, so kinda had it together.
                                                              I like to clean out my pantry twice a year. Some stuff we just lose interest in or worse, I wonder why I'd ever purchased this, then it gets tossed.

                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                I started to do this after coming back from the grocery a couple of weeks ago, but my son looked at me as if he was seriously alarmed that I might be crazy for REAL.

                                                                So I stopped. LOL!

                                                                1. re: iL Divo

                                                                  I have an inventory list for my freezer (both upstairs and downstairs chest freezer) but not for my pantry! Although I have lost things in my pie safe that I later said "I wonder where that went!" LOL

                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                    Every May I go through everything and leave a big bagful for the Postal Food Drive, works out for both of us.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      I'll do that in May too. I'm usually not home and the day comes and goes. Is it the PO letter carriers that pick up or a third party.

                                                                      1. re: iL Divo

                                                                        Letter carriers but food banks will take things all the time.

                                                                        1. re: iL Divo

                                                                          It's always the day before Mother's Day so easy to remember.

                                                                      2. re: iL Divo

                                                                        il divo. I would love to take a peek at the 5 typed pages and how you have it arranged. I would love to get a handle on my pantry and I would love to try your system. Please post it. THANKS>

                                                                        1. re: lilmomma

                                                                          So nice of you thank you.
                                                                          I am in Vancouver BC and not home so I don't have access to those 5 pages.
                                                                          I will next week but not sure how I could post them.
                                                                          They are 8x11 typing paper sheets, how do I take a photo of a completely typed page then post so it's readable? Plus I've taken a pix of it before and it appears different than if you were there at the house. I don't list my email, do have a blog but don't know how to use it and I don't facebook or twitter. So.....

                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                            If you have access to a scanner (say at work or something) you can just scan it in.

                                                                  2. What I find more interesting than what any of us have in our pantries is what IS a pantry? I have a small room -- about five feet by six feet? -- that was once a laundry room but is now the room I call my pantry. It has "over counter" cabinets that no longer have a washer and dryer under them but have four wall to wall bookshelves that now house my cook books. The room holds a very large upright freezer, and has a nook of open shelves about 2 feet by two and a half feet that hold things like light bulbs, my stock of paper supplies for future use and stuff like that. This pantry is also home to lots of counter top appliances I don't have room on the counters to keep out all of the time. But other than what is in the freezer, I don't have ANY food in my pantry. Am I strange or what? '-)

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      No, you're not strange. Sometimes you say you're 'stocking up' but it seems more like 'hoarding' food. I used to, but now I've decided to turn over a new leaf. Buy what you need but use what you buy is my new motto.

                                                                      So yes, I'll buy stuff I need, but not doubles and triples, just because it's on sale. I'm also trying to use up what's already in my "pantry" (and freezer).

                                                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                        You're right. But......I bake a lot. I use a boatload of olive oil. We go through a lot of soup. When hubby is home alone, it's easy for him to do soup abd grilled cheese. < A no brainer.
                                                                        Wednesday I called him on his way home from work and asked him to get a quart of tomato juice for his moms recipe of what she called goulash. The quart in my pantry was way out of date, so didn't open it and tossed in trash. So use what you buy....

                                                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                          I've started taking that approach too. After a recent move I realized that I had stuff in the pantry and freezer that was years old (and the inventory suggestion is a good one, but I know we'd never keep up with it). I don't like clutter in general, or having things around that I don't use or know are there, so I've been reducing my pantry to things I'm likely to use up in the next couple of months. No more buying random jars of stuff or, especially, grains, that I have no plan for -- I have lots of stores nearby and shop regularly, so there's no need for me to stock up.

                                                                          I bake a lot, so the best thing in my pantry is a little box containing salt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and some small spoon measures. It's so convenient to pull it out and have ingredients I need for almost every recipe in one place, instead of hunting through the cabinet to try to dig out the box of baking soda. I also divided other ingredients into boxes -- one box for different flours, one box for different sugars, one container for chocolate chips (and things that I consider similar, like flaked coconut), one for dried fruit, one for nuts, one for decorating supplies. Works great -- nothing ever gets lost, and if I'm thinking about variations on a recipe I can pull out the appropriate container and quickly see what ingredients I have on hand.

                                                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                                                          I love your "butlers pantry". Anyone would be fortunate to have one. All women I know or men cooks for that matter, often check out a pantry when looking into the purchase of a new home. Personally we bought our home for the kitchen and pantry. It's that important to me.

                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                            Oh god, I *WISH* I had a true butler's pantry!!! Traditionally, a butler's pantry is a passageway between the kitchen and dining room that is fitted with lots of (often glass fronted) cabinets for storing china, silver, and such, with counters and under cabinets on both sides and one counter fitted with a sink. It was a place where the family cook could set containers of food and the butler could take them into the family and guests for service. It was also used as a place to mix and serve drinks from, though many homes had both a butler's pantry and a generous wet bar. In my pantry, the door in is the door out. You bump into yourself coming AND going! '-)

                                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                                            No, I don't find you strange at all. It may be in the vernacular being used here. For me, my food storage areas are the pantry, and my drygood storage area is my, uh, storage area, for lack of a better term. It's all in the same mudroom at home, though not at work.

                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                              I would LOVE a small separate room or small "walk in closet" next to the kitchen which could be my food pantry and storage for small appliances - lucky you, Caroline!

                                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                Linda, in my 77 brief years on this planet, I have had kitchens smaller than my present pantry! But I've noticed that no matter how big or small what I have happens to be, it quickly becomes "normal." Which is not to say I don't usually wish for more. It's the nature of the beast. This beast anyway. '-)

                                                                              2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                I'd really like to come live with you.
                                                                                I bet you'd take very good care of me.

                                                                                1. re: rabaja

                                                                                  Tee hee! And the STORIES she'd have for all of us that she's taking care of! ;-)

                                                                              3. Mustards, jams, marmalades, ketchup, mayo, vinegars, fortified wines and hard alcohol
                                                                                Canned soups (not a whole lot of these, but a few as "just in case")
                                                                                Tomato sauce or canned tomatoes
                                                                                Tomato paste
                                                                                canned beans
                                                                                evaporated milk
                                                                                jarred roasted red peppers
                                                                                canned tuna
                                                                                canned pumpkin
                                                                                egg noodles
                                                                                various assortment of dried pastas
                                                                                about 5 different types of rice
                                                                                Panko bread crumbs
                                                                                dried fruits (mostly raisins, dried cranberries, and dried apricots)
                                                                                candied ginger

                                                                                I know there's plenty more, but I'm at work and my pantry is at home. :-) The above is spread throughout regular kitchen cabinets, a double-door pie safe pantry, and a cabinet area next to my basement stairs.

                                                                                1. I went to do a quick inventory and got embarrassed. I think I may be a hoarder.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: nvcook

                                                                                    I think, if you were truly a hoarder ;-), nvcook, you wouldn't have been able accomplish an inventory. AT ALL.

                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                      umm, I wasn't able to do an inventory. I have food in my pantry, several shelves in my laundry room and in the basement. There are only 2 of us living here at present. I am still embarrassed and am refusing to go grocery shopping any time soom. I feel like the "ugly American". This was actually a good thing for me to see, as I think it might be a little out of hand

                                                                                      1. re: nvcook

                                                                                        I've done that! It's really a good idea. When I think about it, it's appalling that I have hundreds of dollars worth of food sitting in my "pantry" getting old and stale, and I'm still running out to buy more. I've been consciously trying to whittle down my "hoard" and now I actually have room to put what I have away!

                                                                                  2. I've got got a 4 shelf pantry/large cabinet and then my spices are in 2 smaller cabinets closer to the stove/prep area. I'd say I have too much stuff -- I like to buy new stuff to try, and don't always wait until the previous version/container is empty so it can get a bit crowded.

                                                                                    Shelf 1: Cereals, creamof wheat/oatmeal, hot sauces, Coffees, teas
                                                                                    Shelf 2: Boxed foods like mac and cheese, Couscous, pastas, canned items like veggies, diced green chilis, refried beans, boxes of coconut milk and coconut cream, and a basket with small items like chocolate chips, instant noodles, etc.
                                                                                    Shelf 3: Prepared indian foods (I buy readymade Haldiram and Ashoka foods for quick weeknight dinners), spaghetti sauce, bread crumbs, flour, brown sugar
                                                                                    Shelf 4: Dried beans and lentils (I have them in large plastic containers, probably about 10 of them).

                                                                                    Spice Cabinets: One cabinet has all my non-boxed indian spices -- cumin seeds and ground, coriander seeds and ground, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, chilli powder, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks, dried red chillis, star anise, fenugreek leaves, the bottom shelf of this cabinet houses my masala dabba (a steel box with small steel bowls inside to hold commonly used spices.)
                                                                                    Cabinet #2 has my non-indian spices: paprika, seasoned salt and pepper, lemon pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, kosher salt, steak rub, boullion powder and a ocuple other things like taco seasoning and dry salad dressing mix. One shelf has all my indian pre-mixed masalas -- Kofta curry mix, dal curry mix, chana masala, chaat masala, kitchen king masala, etc.

                                                                                    1. Top shelf (very high up) large pots and serving platters that aren't used very often.
                                                                                      wax paper, zip lock bags, foil bags, plastic wrap, straws
                                                                                      canned and boxed soups and broths, vegetarian mix taco filling, baking powder, Hershey's Cocoa, vanilla, Karo Syrup, variey of rices.
                                                                                      Ketchup, mustards, vegetable oil.
                                                                                      cereals, crackers, nuts, oatmeal, flour, sugar, tea cannisters. chips and pretzels
                                                                                      spices, bread box, nuts
                                                                                      Canned tomatoes, dried beans, canned beans,
                                                                                      Rice maker, salad spinner, mixer
                                                                                      This was hard!!
                                                                                      pasta, cookbooks

                                                                                      1. How important? To me the pantry is the soul of the kitchen

                                                                                        I have two pantry areas. One set of cabinets that have pull outs and another set that is comprised of stationary shelves. They are both stocked. From tortillas to Viet. rice papers, seven or more vinegars, multiple oils, sauces, seasonings, condiments, grains, noodles, beans....etc. My head spins just thinking about it.

                                                                                        I can cook any number of cuisines on the fly. I have one area that houses my spice collection of Indian spices. Unfortunately I have a hard time keeping inventory so I end up with more items than I need cause I think I'm out of it because I couldn't find it. But I can move quickly between many cuisines with ease.

                                                                                        There is no way I can list an inventory as some here have but again I feel the pantry is paramount to a varied repertoire of dishes.

                                                                                        1. Somebody somewhere along the line asked about the physical space for a pantry.

                                                                                          I guess in that sense I don't have a pantry after all. What I have is a set of shelves in the "dining nook" where all my big kitchen machines are, such as the mixer, blender, ice cream maker, etc. Also some of the pots and pans and a 2 tier lazy susan with condiments and some spices, also my little glass bowls, good for everything from dip to holding my spices ready for cooking. Then I have the cabinets in the small kitchen.

                                                                                          There is a small room or a large closet off the living room, maybe 5' square, that was probably intended to be the laundry room, but for some reason they put a stacking unit in the dining room closet which really SHOULD have been the pantry. There's nothing in this little room but the AC unit. We'll probably put shelves in there and I'm keeping the empty boxes for my kitchen appliances in there. I'll keep the big containers of flour in there. I'd LIKE to put a small deep freeze in there, but my son is, to put it mildly, unenthused by this idea. I keep thinking of all the things that could be stored in a small deep freeze. There was one on craig's list only 3 years old for $85 but he wouldn't go for it, oh well. But right now that space is not being used, so the extent of my "pantry" is really just one set of shelves and the kitchen cabinets.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                            Oh fiddlesticks - I say get a freezer - I'd bet your son would LOVE it after it was in there!

                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                              Is he opposed because of the energy factor? Or is it just a spatial thing? Because if it's the second, it seems to me that you do the cooking entire or at least 99% of it, which means, in all fairness that you should get to have the things that would please you and make your life a bit more easy. A deep freeze is a beautiful thing, ZS. U Gotta Fight For Your Right to....um......freeze lotsa stuff!

                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                I think he just sees it as yet another example of a kitchen doodad that's not really necessary. I'm trying to change his mind about things - example, yesterday I made pizza from dough made in my KA mixer, which I was able to just let run and knead the dough for 15 minutes. If I was still having to knead by hand as I did when he was little, I couldn't do it. I have a bad shoulder and I'm not very strong these days anyway. He did admit that the pizza crust came out better than the Trader Joe's stuff that I dissuaded him from buying the other day.

                                                                                                My continued failure with baguettes is providing a counterbalance to that though, LOL!

                                                                                                Tomorrow I'll be making mango ice cream in the Cuisinart ice cream maker (with compressor).

                                                                                                I don't REALLY have that many kitchen doodads, do I?

                                                                                                Let me count the doodads:

                                                                                                KA Mixer
                                                                                                KA blender
                                                                                                Pasta maker (probably won't last much longer, won't be replaced)
                                                                                                Cuisinart ice cream maker, got it for my dad because he liked unusual ice cream flavors
                                                                                                Zojirushi bread machine (got it mostly to make meatloaf for my dad when I had frozen shoulder, but I do use it for sandwich bread and the like)
                                                                                                I have a Cuisinart food processor somewhere in storage, it's 30 years old

                                                                                                Nonelectric doodads:
                                                                                                dumpling press
                                                                                                Accusharp
                                                                                                Set of inexpensive knives
                                                                                                a small one of those tapered rolling pins
                                                                                                Idli maker, lost in storage at the moment
                                                                                                chinese cleaver, also lost in storage
                                                                                                SUPER PARCHMENT! (leaps tall buildings in a single bound!)
                                                                                                Good heavy cookie sheets
                                                                                                Oh yeah, and a Trader Joe's double-action corkscrew which I love and I think only cost like $5 anyway.

                                                                                                That's not too many doodads, is it? The 2 newest and most expensive machines (ice cream maker, bread machine) I bought to help me take care of my dad. Everything else except the blender are in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 years old. The new blender replaced my elderly and virtually useless old blender.

                                                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                  A bit late, but how do you make meatloaf in the bread maker?

                                                                                            2. I also have a big pantry. I live 30 miles from the closest grocery store so I stay stocked on as much as I can. Got to have pastas, canned veggies (for reserves) tomatoes, sauces, and pickles canned from the garden not to mention rice, flour and sugars and such that have to be stored in containers to keep pest control easier. Seasonings and spices have their own cabinet, separate potato and onion bins. Even the two freezers have to stay full. I like to be prepared even in the plains we get snow and rain that limits travel. I love it in the winter, the wood stove burning nice big pot of stew on it. Without my pantry I would fear that we might starve!!!!

                                                                                              1. My "pantry" is spread out...I have four wire shelves in the laundry room (which is next to the kitchen) where I keep my cases of soda & bottled water, potatoes & onions. I have cabinets over my stove & fridge; I keep the spices that I use the most in the one next to the stove and my dried chiles which I put in jars over the fridge for easy access. I keep boxes of cereal that are opened & open bread on top of the fridge.

                                                                                                I then have three large cabinets with two shelves each next to the fridge. The lower two holds food. First one has the remaining seasonings, mixes etc. canned vegetables, tomatoes/pastes/fruits, etc. The second one holds sauces/syrups/baking products/pastas/rices/juices/crackers, etc. I also have a spare room with about 10 large banana boxes packed to the gills with overflow, each sorted & labled with type of canned goods, etc. I admit I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to food products; I'm always dragging home something.

                                                                                                Then there's the chest freezer.....I could eat from the freezer & pantry for a year and not go to the store....

                                                                                                1. We've split off some discussion of constructing pantries to a new thread on the cookware board. You can find that thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743708

                                                                                                  1. I have a small pantry, so don't tend to do much "stocking up". Over the years, I've developed a system where I try to keep one of everything that I use typically in stock, and then replace that item as I use it up. I've found when I buy things without a plan for them, they end up sitting around forever, and then go into the next Boy Scout pickup bag. Those scouts have gotten some pretty unusual items over the years. I do love it, though, when I find a recipe I want to try, and while making my list, find that I only need one or two "specialty" items from the store. My pantry is way heavy on all manner of bread baking supplies, and more spices than I care to count.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: mamueller

                                                                                                      " I do love it, though, when I find a recipe I want to try, and while making my list, find that I only need one or two "specialty" items from the store."

                                                                                                      Isn't that great? Because I'm old (!) and can't remember so well, when we have a little dinner party, I usually write down my menu and, from that, my shopping list. It's shocking in a good way how little I need to buy most of the time. And I can ALWAYS make a meal from the pantry. Maybe lacking a "leafy green vegetable" but frozen peas fill in on occasion.

                                                                                                    2. I've had both. Last house we had was a townhouse with a small pantry, but I had a supermarket less than 5 minutes walk away. Our current house has a large walk-in pantry with an abundance of shelf space. It's kind of necessary because the nearest decent supermarket is a 15 minute drive away.

                                                                                                      While I absolutely LOVE my walk-in pantry, I really do miss being able to skip across the road on a whim just about any time I needed something. If I had to pick one or the other, I would choose the convenience of a supermarket within easy reach.

                                                                                                      Both the huge pantry and the nearby supermarket would be just perfect though! If I ever move again (I swore I wouldn't after this move), I might have to make that a point on my wish-list.

                                                                                                      As for what I have in my pantry, I'm finding that these days there's less and less of the pre-packaged and convenience foods, more of the basics like flour, rice, polenta, couscous. I'm making more and more from scratch because there are so many benefits - both for us and the environment.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                        Re last paragraph - good for you! My most loaded shelf is the pasta, grains, etc.

                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          Oh yes! I just love pasta. I would not do well on a low carb diet. One of these days, I'm going to try to make some from scratch :)

                                                                                                        2. re: ursy_ten

                                                                                                          for sure today's pantry looks very different from the pic. that would've been taken 20 years ago.

                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                            Mine doesn't look SO different than my mother's did 20 years ago, but that's partly because I'm working to make it look like my grandmother's from 50 years ago. :) Or maybe an Indian-Italian-Chinese-American granny's from 50 years ago. :D

                                                                                                        3. My pantry is spread throughout 3 rooms; the tiny pantry and cabinets in the kitchen, the freezer and shelves in the garage and a buffet in the dining room.

                                                                                                          Kitchen pantry:
                                                                                                          Top shelf has surplus items usually bought on sale, such as relish, tomato paste, honey, 3 types of vinegar, corn syrup, tea bags, raisins, horseradish, cocoa, V8, Nutella, and 3 lbs. of white chocolate a friend gifted me.
                                                                                                          Second shelf has beans, pasta, 4 types of rice, graham crackers and hush puppy mix.
                                                                                                          Third shelf has canned tomatoes, pineapples, other fruit, beans, peppers, tuna fish, maraschino cherries, sardines, herring, anchovies, and a pitcher full of secret candy.
                                                                                                          Fourth shelf has oatmeals, several types of crackers, nilla wafers, more raisins, tortillas, sweetened condensed milk, sunflower seeds, granola bars, prunes, popcorn, potatoes and a blue pottery bowl of snacks for my children.
                                                                                                          Bottom of pantry has a can of olive oil, cereals, potatoes, more tomatoes, dog cookies, juice, and dog cookies. There is also a box of my son's Legos in there for some reason I cannot fathom.
                                                                                                          Garage shelves have extra Tupperware, juice, extra mason jars, gatorade, applesauce, and more juice.
                                                                                                          Kitchen cabinet has flours for baking, baking mixes, sugars, cornmeal mix, Crisco, powdered milk and sugar, hot chocolate mix, more pasta, pancake mix, and a crock of vinegar that I am trying to make but seem to be failing at.
                                                                                                          Stand up freezer has beef, chicken, pork, gator, and some type of unidentified fish. there is also a variety of nuts, stocks, soups, meatloaf, rubbed wings, nuts, gravies, popsicles, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, peas, greens, shrimp tails, lime juice, white wine, salami, pancetta, sausage, veggies and bones for stock, coffee, pureed watermelon, bread, breadcrumbs, butter, henna for my hair, coconut, bagels, cookie dough, frosting, tomato gravy, pot roast, vodka, gatorade, icecream, chz rinds, biscuits, salt pork, ham hocks, and ground pork that I was going to make into sausage but never got around to.
                                                                                                          Buffet has mason jars of chow chow, spicy tomato relish, peach butter, figs in port, granola,and huge bag of animal cookies. I have to admit this summer is the first that I have canned stuff and I am a little scared of opening them up and poisoning my family.

                                                                                                          One thing I have learned from Chowhound is how important a pantry is and how to use it... I have to give a big thanks to you guys.

                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: snix

                                                                                                            "There is also a box of my son's Legos in there for some reason I cannot fathom. "

                                                                                                            That really made me smile! LOL!

                                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                              Glad to give you a smile, my kids and I normally have differing opinions on where things belong. I have to let them get by with some stuff, makes me smile also when I see his huge box by my olive oil.

                                                                                                              1. re: snix

                                                                                                                I am very intrigued by your avatar. Please do tell

                                                                                                                1. re: nvcook

                                                                                                                  Sorry for the delay in answering, I have a blueberry farm in Florida. Those are my berries covered in ice during one of our many freezes last winter. We were lucky, only losing a very small percentage to freeze damage.

                                                                                                                  1. re: snix

                                                                                                                    very interesting. I live in a very cold climate and also grow blue berries. Obviously not the same type.

                                                                                                          2. My pantry is very important, although quite small. It's 3 shelves and the floor of a small closet (3x3ft) in the hallway next to the kitchen. When we moved in, the closet had only one shelf way up at the top and nothing else. So, we added 3 more shelves. That top shelf is used for board game storage. The other 3 shelves have a very tiny wine rack, canned goods (mostly tomatoes, beans, canned pumpkin, a few soups that I should probably donate because canned soup is just yucky - it was a sale purchase), a handful of homemade canned jams, dry pasta, rice, corn meal for polenta, and a few bottles of oils and vinegars. The floor contains everything that won't fit on the shelves like a giant box of kitchen trash bags from Costco, a few boxes of cereal, empty canning jars, plus my vacuum cleaner, step stool, broom, and crockpot. My spices have their own skinny spice cabinets on either side of the microwave. The cabinet above the microwave which is mostly taken up by the venting also has cooking oil, sugars, baking powders, corn starch, and other misc. little items. Hmm...I just looked in my pantry and I think I need to start going through it more. It's getting rather disheveled looking.

                                                                                                            1. Added to our pantry. Husband decided it was extra large juice bottle time again and bought 3. They take up too much room for sure. Also low on flour and sugar, garlic powder and onion powder. I need them for my house seasoning. < I use it on everything.

                                                                                                              1. Almost everything listed by folks here except canned tuna (sorry, raised on canned salmon, canned tuna and lima beans any which way are among the very few foods I do not eat), plus a lot of Chinese/Asian things (light and dark soy, black vinegar, rice vinegar, sesame oil - if you see Evergreen brand from Taiwan, pounce, it's delicious - a number of Sichuan and Hunan chili condiments in oil, fermented black beans, rice noodles, Sichuan pickle in those nice little packets, tian mian jiang ditto, cloud ear and shiitake dried mushrooms, sesame seed, cooked chestnuts, Thai chili pastes, coconut milk etc). Have a drawerful of spices of all varieties, various dried chiles, Chinese and north American, a drawerful of chocolates and extracts, different flours and other starches, all baking essentials, domestic and German sent me by a friend. Don't have a pantry as such, grew up with one and it would be nice to have, this stuff is scattered among kitchen cabinets and drawers. Which of course I should reorganize.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  When I was single and lived in the city I ate out constantly. My husband still jokes that when he was dating me the only thing in my fridge was condiments. Life is quite different since I moved to the burbs. We have a basement with shelving units and a huge freezer. And boy was I glad that everything was well stocked when I became very ill for two months and my husband did not have to go grocery shopping, except to pick up fresh fruit.

                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    buttertart, I want you to buy a can of Italian tuna packed in olive oil. A wonderful treat.

                                                                                                                  2. Added to my spice pantry yesterday with mace, cinnamon from somewhere far away, more sesame seeds and poppy seeds for baking as Penzys was pretty busy in the Burgh.
                                                                                                                    Also found White Lily self rising flour & got 2 pkgs.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                      Love this topic. I'm writing a cookbook for my kids and grandkids and it starts with the pantry. I know people's space, time and assets differ, but if you keep a good pantry, you can always come up with a meal. My basics don't differ much from all the ones listed here (a variety of good oils and vinegars, mustards, spices and herbs, san marzano canned tomatoes, dried beans, canned italian tuna in olive oil, tamari, fish sauce, chili garlic paste, sciracha, pomegranate molasses, honey and jams, etc.). Most ot these items, except the spices and herbs which I try to replace at least every year, last indefinitely and allow you to come up with something yummy without ferocious pre-planning. I think if the government wants to encourage healthy cooking they should support a food bank that includes stocking homes with a good basic pantry.

                                                                                                                      1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                                                                        TZT, I am also writing - or trying to write - a cookbook for my grown daughters. Would you be interested in discussing this? Maybe start a thread?

                                                                                                                        I recently moved from the house with a fabulous kitchen and pantry to an aprtment that is temporary until I figure out what I want to do next. The apartment has an OK kitchen and my pantry is in a small closet in the hall way that also accommodates tools, lightbulbs , tupperware and alike. I keep pretty much the same things as others mentioned. Some things go bad, though - I just thrown away breadcrumbs that smelled rancid and something else the other week but do not remember what it was. Love Italian tuna in oil and always have canned salmon and crab for a quick pasta sauce or salad. I have tremendous amount of spices - they are in three areas of the apartment and need to be streamlined but I do not know how to do it since I use all the them though not at the same rate.

                                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                                          I rarely go to the market that I don't at least check out their spice area. You never know what new has come to being

                                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                                            alanbarnes does what I intend to do. Whole spices go in zipping bags, in alpha order and are stored in shoebox equivalents. I also buy 99.9% of my spices from the bulk jars at a nearby natural food grocery. I buy them in small quantities and they get used up before they go stale.

                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                              I buy lots of my spices in bulk from a great Middle-Eastern store - they are inexpensive butalready pre-packed in clear plastic containers. I am not sure how effective ziplog bags are for spices...

                                                                                                                      2. I don't have a pantry but I have two kitchen cupboards that hold my non-perishables ( canned, fruit, veggies, soups, tomatoes, pastas and sauce, coffee, pb, evaporated milk, tuna, salmon, salsas, bbq sauces, mustard, ketchup, syrup ).

                                                                                                                        I found a small floor bookshelf and since I didn't have any floor space for it ( unless I wanted to put it beneath the breakfast bar and bang my knees into it when I sat there ) I painted it to match that wall in the kitchen and mounted it on the wall. That holds the 'lighter' weight non-perishables ( pasta, crackers, cereals, sugar, rices, grains, dried beans, boxed mixes ). It is much easier to find things on the 'open' shelves.

                                                                                                                        Spices have been put in a drawer in an organizer found at Lowe's. And god bless my sis that organized them alphabetically so I can actually find what I need.

                                                                                                                        I 'do' have an empty shelf in a bookshelf in the LV room that houses some computer stuff. I just checked and I've got some salsas, applesauce, boxed broths down there.

                                                                                                                        I don't consider myself a hoarder cuz' I rotate in and out on a regular basis and I try and use what I have FIRST before I buy more but if I find something that we use on a regular basis and it's on sale, I'll stock up.

                                                                                                                        1. Thankfully my pantry is nice and large. Aside from the usual sundries we keep all our vinegars, oils, vanilla beans, dried fruits and chocolate, homemade vanilla, 20 salts, snacks... I have a large kitchen drawer filled with rolls of parchment, silpat, wax paper, Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, it. Our kitchen was really set up very well (unlike our previous kitchen!).

                                                                                                                          Our other pantry houses my Cuisinart, Kitchen Aid Professional mixer, indoor grill, blender, mandoline.

                                                                                                                          Yes, I admit I am a hoarder. If I see a unique ingredient that I have read about and subsequently drooled over they go into my pantry. I have an entire ethnic section. There is something gratifying and comforting opening that pantry and just looking - sort of like window shopping only better because you already have it!

                                                                                                                          We have a huge cupboard for our 87 spices/blends and dried chiles.

                                                                                                                          Our cold room downstairs holds our chutneys, salsas, canning, confit, preserves and so on. I love putting things away for winter!

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                            yes to a person other than myself that loves to ummmmm, uh, how can I say, oooh hoard........
                                                                                                                            if I see something that is new to me, you bet I buy it.
                                                                                                                            if I see LB's jarred pasta sauce on sale, in 3 flavors, yea, I buy it.
                                                                                                                            do I need it, no, but I will. or if I saw Rao's at a huge discount, yep I'd buy up the store and divvy it out to my kids too.

                                                                                                                          2. Must haves:

                                                                                                                            Olive oil
                                                                                                                            Vegetable oil
                                                                                                                            Canned tomatoes
                                                                                                                            Tomato sauce
                                                                                                                            Tomatoes paste (I prefer the jarred paste that I can refrigerate for a couple of weeks)
                                                                                                                            Barilla roasted garlic pasta sauce
                                                                                                                            Canned beans
                                                                                                                            Broth paste/concentrate (refridgerate after opening of course)

                                                                                                                            Dried Shitake Mushrooms (for a nice Asian type dish or to make mushroom broth)
                                                                                                                            Chinese noodles
                                                                                                                            Various pastas (Orzo and spaghetti are my most often used)
                                                                                                                            White rice
                                                                                                                            Arborrio rice for risotto or rice pudding
                                                                                                                            A small smattering of instant type lunches like canned soup (love Amy's)
                                                                                                                            An occasional cream of whatever soup for a random quick casserole recipe
                                                                                                                            Peanut butter (extra crunchy and smooth)
                                                                                                                            Soy sauce
                                                                                                                            Coconut milk
                                                                                                                            Hot sauce (for my sweet and sticky hot wings)
                                                                                                                            Cereals
                                                                                                                            Water crackers
                                                                                                                            Ritz crackers for DH
                                                                                                                            Popcorn kernels (not microwave)
                                                                                                                            Steel cut oats
                                                                                                                            Granola bars for my little girl
                                                                                                                            Xotchitle tortilla chips
                                                                                                                            Corn and flour tortillas
                                                                                                                            Whole wheat bread
                                                                                                                            Mini bottles of wine to use for cooking when nothing is opened

                                                                                                                            This doesn't include my baking or spice cabinet. That would be too much to include. But my favorite spice BLENDS that I cannot do without aside from the individual spices are:

                                                                                                                            Morton and Basset Mexican Spice Blend
                                                                                                                            M&B Curry powder
                                                                                                                            Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
                                                                                                                            Goya Sazon (Mexican spices)

                                                                                                                            1. I recently hung this on the back of a door. I had already installed shelves (a few) in the laundry room.

                                                                                                                              1. I'd like a true pantry but just don't have the space for one. My storage for dry goods is limited to a couple of cabinets, so "stocking up" isn't in my vocabulary.

                                                                                                                                That said, I do keep certain staples on hand at all times (in very small quantities--think one big can of tomatoes, one carton of broth), and replace them immediately as they are used up.

                                                                                                                                Oils--olive and vegetable
                                                                                                                                Canned and pureed tomatoes
                                                                                                                                Beef, chicken and vegetable broth
                                                                                                                                All manner of canned and dried beans
                                                                                                                                A few different dried pastas
                                                                                                                                Rice, pilaf, and couscous
                                                                                                                                Canned tuna in olive oil
                                                                                                                                Jarred artichoke hearts
                                                                                                                                Panko
                                                                                                                                Some baking supplies: chocolate, cocoa, nuts, flour, sugars, oats
                                                                                                                                Jarred salsa
                                                                                                                                Dijon mustard
                                                                                                                                Peanut butter
                                                                                                                                A bunch of spices, a couple of dried herbs

                                                                                                                                1. I don't have much space for a true pantry, but I have one of those 6 shelf metal kitchen storage racks.

                                                                                                                                  Top shelf: Toilet paper and paper towel overstock and my collection of oils and fish sauces.

                                                                                                                                  Next shelf (split in 2 sections): Collection of flours, sugars, salts, leveners, gelatin sheets, vanilla beans, etc. and the remnants of my canned garden harvests.

                                                                                                                                  3rd shelf: dry pastas, baker's scale, mandoline, rolling pins, pasta roller, and 1 see through drawer containing all my spices, extracts, etc.

                                                                                                                                  4th shelf: blender, stand mixer, food processor (all covered in plastic to prevent airborne particles from landing) and 2 stackable see through drawers containing graters, stick blender, thermometers, piping bags, and a variety of other various kitchen gadgets.

                                                                                                                                  5th shelf: excess stock pots (plastic covered), LeCreuset pots (plastic covered), my microwave, and a 50 lbs bag of rice.

                                                                                                                                  Bottom shelf: 3 large, lidded, Rubbermaid bins. #1 includes tupperware, food storage containers, etc. #2 includes baking pans, trays, baking sheets, bread pans, etc. #3 includes mixing bowls, fit into each other, and covered with a shower cap.

                                                                                                                                  I keep any canned goods or dried beans in a separate drawer.
                                                                                                                                  I like to keep any appliances exposed covered in plastic so I can just grab them and get started without worry of wiping them down. Same goes for my mixing bowls. The shower cap idea works out great! Keeps them clean and dust free!

                                                                                                                                  I also forgot to add that on the side of this rack, I have 'S' hooks with multiple whisks, strainers, rubber spatulas, scrapers, and my apron.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Novelli

                                                                                                                                    AND! I must always have breadcrumbs, anchovies, sugar, pasta, and flour on hand at all times! They're essential to my everyday living! LOL

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Novelli

                                                                                                                                      Agree with your must haves (me too).
                                                                                                                                      Like your organizing skills, sounds great.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Novelli

                                                                                                                                        I make and store breadcrumbs in the freezer. What kind of anchovies? I only use salt-packed nowadays and keep them n the fridge.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          I'm the same way with anchovies. The ones I get are Sicilian salt packed in cans. Good stuff and keeps will in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                          My breadcrumbs never last for very long, so they store well in my pantry.
                                                                                                                                          Every Sunday I wake up early to stock myself up for the week. I make a big loaf of bread, make breadcrumbs from the ends of last week's loaf, make about a quart of my basic tomato sauce, biscotti (for my morning coffees), simple syrup (for the sun teas), and sometimes some stock if the weather's going to be cold.

                                                                                                                                    2. our son went through all the soup in the pantry unbeknownst to me so today Vons had on sale a [new to me anyway] Campbells soup called Harvest Orange Tomato. it'll be fun to start refilling the empty area where soup cans used to be plus see how well this flavor goes over.
                                                                                                                                      I had to read the ingredients first, sale or no sale, because I hoped it didn't contain orange flavor of any kind in tomato soup, it doesn't.

                                                                                                                                      1. I live in a sharehouse but do the bulk of the cooking. Three shelves in the pantry hold cookware and whatnot, two shelves are mine and one holds my flatmates' stuff, which is mostly cereal, coffee, spreads like PB and things like cans of soup or ramen-type noodles. One shelf of mine holds cans and bottles, organized by type: tinned tuna/salmon, canned beans/tomatoes/tomato paste/corn, then oils, vinegars, syrups or whatever. The other holds all my dry goods in clear, labelled, stackable containers: various kinds of beans, nuts, seeds, flours, sugars, dried fruit, oats/grains, etc. I also have a small cupboard holding all my spices and similar - they're all in 250ml clear and labelled stackable containers.

                                                                                                                                        I tend to like being well-stocked but more in terms of variety than quantity.

                                                                                                                                        1. I'm very fortunate that although I'm in a one bedroom apartment, my kitchen has lots of cabinets and a pantry. I have a 4 shelf rack across from the pantry as well.

                                                                                                                                          I try to categorize all of my pantry items by ethnicity.....I have all hispanic items in one area, all asian in another, all Italian in another...the list goes on and on.

                                                                                                                                          Generic items such as canned beans and broths go on one shelf, and baking stuff, since I rarely bake, is on the top shelf.

                                                                                                                                          My rack across from the pantry hosts all of my dried pastas, nuts, dried fruits and don't know what else.

                                                                                                                                          I can always create a meal of some sort just based on my pantry. I just prefer fresh veggies and ingredients vs. relying on stuff totally out of the pantry.

                                                                                                                                          1. My "pantry" is four separate spaces because we have a small kitchen and space is a premium.
                                                                                                                                            Two full shelves though are devoted to spices and such. In with the spices is sugar, salt, extracts, crisco, molasses and other baking necessities, like yeast baking powder, baking soda
                                                                                                                                            Another cabinet is solely for cereals and any snack foods
                                                                                                                                            the third is divided up among ethincities:
                                                                                                                                            latin flavors, where I keep a can of Chipotle in adobo, packets of Sazon with and without achiote, black beans, pigeon peas, medium grain rice, can of coconut milk, masa harina, achiote, dried chiles
                                                                                                                                            Asian Flavors - fish sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, Thai curry pastes, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil
                                                                                                                                            Italian, jarred roasted peppers, tomato paste, canned tomatoes
                                                                                                                                            and I have a small little corner where I stick "whatever" I've bought specifically for a recipe
                                                                                                                                            last, I have shelves in the laundry room, where I keep everything else
                                                                                                                                            pasta, flour, white sugar, brown sugar, bread crumbs, chicken and beef broth, other various cans of beans, like cannelini beans, red beans and chick peas. I also have olive oil, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and cider vinegar there.

                                                                                                                                            all of the above is what I always have... all the time. I'd be lost without my pantry. I realize that I probably have more spices than I "Need" but cooking is my comfort and my hobby. Some people collect objects... I buy spices (and rotate them when they get old... nothing worse than my mom's spice rack, which is about ten years old and has spices in it from the time she bought it!)

                                                                                                                                            1. my husband and I were in Indiana over the long weekend past and looked at a home to think about buying.
                                                                                                                                              the kitchen was ok, but when my husband asked the realtor where the pantry was, the realtor opened it up for us to view. my husband said, "oh, this'll never do."
                                                                                                                                              that's how important a pantry is to me.