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Oct 26, 2010 09:05 AM

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. 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 personally, I love threads about what people keep in their pantries, what people have for breakfast/lunch/dinner/ 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: 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.

                            2. 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
                              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
                              mango puree
                              canned fruit - peaches, apricots, pineapple
                              dried mango
                              dried apricots and peaches
                              raisins, "regular" and golden
                              Dates, when I can find good ones. (At my age the only dates I am likely to get come in boxes, LOL!)
                              brown sugar
                              powdered sugar
                              baking soda
                              baking powder
                              powdered milk
                              balsamic vinegar
                              rice wine vinegar
                              distilled white vinegar
                              soy sauce
                              fish sauce
                              ginger paste
                              minced garlic
                              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
                              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!
                              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
                              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.


                                        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!