EZ food Starts with the Right “Pantry”

Let’s face it, unless you live next door to a grocery or market, you probably aren’t going to make a run for ingredients every day.  Most people either under buy or over buy food. You either end up running out of something you need unexpectedly or you discover what use to be something edible, growing a whole new ecosystem in your fridge. To make your life, your cooking, and your shopping easier, you need the perfect “pantry.”
When I say, “pantry” I am referring to the items that you keep (or should be keeping) in your house pretty much all the time.  You can search online and come up with a bazillion (literally) different lists of “pantry staples” or “kitchen must haves.” They all have their own goals. Maybe they help you eat healthy, reduce your grocery bill, make quick lunches, give you the secrets to living 100 years and grant you super powers, or keep your children from sacrificing you to the sandwich gods. Regardless of what they aim for, those list don’t work for me or anyone I know. Even my friends who shop for each meal every week down to the exact gram of flour (seriously), don’t find any help in these lists. They all have the same problem…They don’t know you, your needs, or your budget.
A Bad Pantry is Like a Scary Movie

A Bad Pantry is Like a Scary Movie


The Rules For Making Your Pantry And Your Life Easier

  1. Start with what you always run out of:  In my house we run out of milk….a lot. When I go to the store I will buy milk simply because I am at the store and we will use it. Unless it’s a bad price, then I cross my fingers that it will be better next time I run out.
  2. Putting something you don’t like in your home does not mean you will eat it:  Seriously, even if it is the only thing in your house you are not going to eat that alien substance you picked up because it’s “good for you.” No, you are going to call up some take out or drag your butt through a drive-thru for some other food of questionable origin. So just skip anything that you know in your heart of hearts is going to be forgotton (until it smells)
  3. Keep your cooking skills in mind: If you can’t make a cake from scratch, then by all means feel free to go buy that boxed cake mix when it’s a good price. If you and home made stocks just leads to a big mess and gallons of wasted mystery liquid then put some boxed/canned stock in your pantry instead. And if all you can make is grilled cheese, well, you need to fix that but, stock up on bread and cheese!
  4. Focus on Versatility: The more uses you can get out of a product the better. If I run out of pasta, I have flour and eggs and therefore I have pasta. The same flour and eggs can make pancakes, waffles, breading for fried foods, biscuits, cake, and a big ole mess. If I run out of cheese, I cry like a baby.
  5. Pay attention to shelf life and buy accordingly: I use tomatoes and spinach almost every day. They don’t exactly last long and they aren’t always in season. I take into account how close they are to “dieing” and buy more or less based on what I think we will use before they “kick the bucket.”
  6. Herbs and Spices can save almost anything: You can take pretty much any meal and change it with some seasoning. I keep a lot of herbs and spices in my cabinet to bring as much variety to my food as possible. If fish is the only meat we have I don’t want to eat the same lemon pepper fish every single night. But I may be willing to eat curry fish one night, honey glazed the next, and smoke paprika fish cakes the one after that (And tell myself it’s not fish the night after that).
  7. Leave room for the random: Sometimes you may want to try something new or see something too good to pass up. That’s OK. Your pantry is suppose to be the base for your cooking. If you must survive on the basics you can but you don’t have to. You don’t want to be locked into the same things day to day.




  • I always have Milk, Eggs, Flour, Bread, Rice, Pasta, Cheese and Sugar. You’d be amazed at how much you can do with these BORING ingredients (except cheese…cheese is amazing)
  • I try to keep Baby Spinach, Tomato, mushrooms, and potatoes in the house. Quick nutrition is but a produce away. You can easily hide any of these in food for picky eaters.
  • Garlic, lemon pepper, Parsley salt, thyme, oregano, and paprika are the bare minimum required in my spice arsenal. I have at least 50 different herbs and spices but I MUST have these (especially garlic)
  • Whatever Proteins looked good without breaking the bank. I usually have chicken and ground beef at least. Right now I actually have fish and steak as well.
  • Sirachi, mayo, mustard, Worcestershire and ketchup. Condiments for dipping AND cooking or, to smother a failed attempt at getting my child to try something new.
  • Random stuff: Right now a good example of random is the jar of capers in my fridge. They go with the fish.
  • My ingredient I won’t let in my pantry is Bell Peppers. If you don’t know about our war, read about it.
You can slowly get your base pantry created and then keep a running replenishment list (if you are a list kind of person) and then just fill in with whatever you feel like. You don’t need a lot of space. My kitchen is so small you can’t open the fridge at the same time as the dishwasher. It will take some trial and error ( possibly even some unpleasant smells) but, once you have a pantry that is set up for you and your needs, cooking will become faster, shopping will be cheaper, and figuring out dinner won’t seem so impossible.