We moved into our house a few years ago and I wanted an easy system to find food. So we bought a pantry for the kitchen and I filled it with glass jars for food storage. I like to store key ingredients in it so I always have a meal to hand. For me, storing certain foods, I know, is one of the ways which will help us to remain on a healthy diet. I find that if I always have these foods in the pantry then I always have a healthy snack to hand or dinner on the table.
Pasta, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Millet and Porridge are dry food I like to keep in my pantry. These foods are excellent carbohydrates for the body and I buy these types of foods in bulk. The pasta that I buy is brown rice pasta as I have a slightly allergy to gluten. When I have bought these items I then like to store them in my pantry in large glass jars. For me, this is the easiest way to store my dry foods. Firstly it means I can see them clearly in my pantry which makes cooking so much easier when everything is to hand. It also means I have it in stock and I won’t keep running to the supermarket to buy it. These are also a great pantry item to store in glass jars as they keep for a long time in this way.
Tinned foods such as tuna, tomatoes and beans are great foods to store in your kitchen cupboards. I know that I will always have a meal when I have tinned tuna, tomatoes and beans in the kitchen. Tuna is good in a salad or as part of a main meal. We love Jamie Tuna Pasta in this house. Also, storing beans in tins, I think, is always a good idea. Beans are a fantastic alternative to meat and they are lovely in a curry or stew or they are even brilliant in soups to make them thicker. Tinned tomatoes are a great kitchen pantry item and I know I can make a tomato sauce if I have tinned tomatoes in the pantry.
Nuts, seeds and dried fruit are another item I like to store in my pantry. When I was on the ‘starve yourself thin diet’, I would not have put a nut, seed or piece of dried fruit near my mouth. As far as I was concerned they were far too calorific. Nowadays I love them and my favourites are brazil nuts, pecans, cashews and pinenuts. I also love chia, hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds too. I now use these ingredients in a lot of my recipes, especially in sweet dishes like cakes and biscuits.
We have a few favourite dried fruits in this house too. I really enjoy eating fresh fruit and thankfully my son does too. Occasionally, we like to eat foods that are a bit meatier for a snack and dried fruit is a perfect meaty sweet treat. I like to store dried prunes in the pantry and dates in the fridge. From time to time, we also have dried apricots and raisins in the pantry. I don’t like to get raisins too often as they are quite sugary but every now and then is OK. As well as making great snacks, I like to use them in baked goods such as cakes and they are really good in pancakes. Plus dates and dried apricots are delicious in savoury dishes too.
Dried beans and lentils are great ingredients to have in the kitchen. Again I store these in glass jars. Personally I prefer to use tinned beans as I find this easier. However, I do like to use them occasionally but I love using dried lentils. Lentils are great in soups, curries and I also have a lentil spag bowl recipe which is really tasty. They are quick to cook and they are great as an alternative to meat. It makes a nice change to switch from meat to lentils during the week.
The next items I enjoy storing in my pantry are spices, herbs, salt and pepper. These items are great for flavouring food. I love to use spices in sweet and savoury dishes. They are so much better for the body than refined sugar and salt and they add so much taste to a dish. My favourites are ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and smoked paprika. They are my top five but I have lots more that I enjoy using in dishes.
Herbs are also a great pantry item. Again, these are also good in curries, italian dishes, soups and salad dressings too. A few favourites are basil, herbs du provence, bay leaves and oregano. These are the herbs I use most in recipes. I’m yet to use these in sweet dishes but I’m sure I will soon. When it comes to salt I prefer to use a Himalayan salt and I only ever use a small amount in food. Himalayan salt is so good for the body and it is well worth investing in. Pepper is also great, especially in curries as it helps the body to digest the spices in the curry with ease.
Oils and vinegar are also a key part of my pantry staples. So I like to use olive oil, coconut oil and vegetable oil. Plus we have flax seed oil in the cupboard too. It’s to help my son with his bowel movements as he’s been finding it difficult to go. The bonus is it seems to be working. I will write a separate blog on that soon. So I have lots of olive oil in stock, I use it for cooking roast potatoes or chicken and salad dressings. We were using it to fry with until recently. Then I bought sunflower oil and I have been using this to fry in instead. It’s slightly cheaper than olive oil and it’s said to be better for the body.
Finally I also like to keep coconut oil in the pantry. I normally use this to make biscuits and cakes with but I like making pancakes with it too. It’s also great in smoothies and porridge as extra fats in the morning. I know there are two schools of thinking when it comes to coconut oil but I have read a lot about it. In places like Sri Lanka where they eat coconut oil a lot, there is no known heart disease or diabetes. Which proves to me that it’s not bad for you. Eating it in moderation, I now think it won’t kill you.
And the final items I like to store in my pantry are sugars. Now I know you’re going to say this blog is meant to be sugar free but I’m not talking about the refined white stuff you get in the supermarket or the sugar that can be found in package foods. No, I’m talking about maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar. These are the sugars I like to eat now as they have been scientifically proven to slip through the liver easier than the white stuff. Maple syrup is a great sugar to have in the cupboard. It contains higher levels of nutrients and tastes delicious on pancakes, in smoothies and even added to my chilli con carne recipe.
Also I like to have a good supply of local honey in my cupboards. I really don’t like supermarket honey’s as these are normally a mix of honey from what might be all over the world. With local honey it’s from one place and that is so much better for us and our bodies. Their is a blog post coming on local honey too. I love using honey in biscuit and cakes. However, I use it in savoury dishes too. It’s also great on pancakes but we love it in a steaming hot bowl of porridge too. Coconut sugar is my final sweetener I like to keep in my pantry. Again, it’s a better sugar than refined sugar because it slips through the liver easily. I use it in cakes and biscuits. It gives a lovely coconut flavour to the food too.
Now I realise that not everyone can afford a pantry nor the glass jars to go inside it. However, finding a system to store food in your already existing cupboards is helpful. I love cooking and I love being in my kitchen and I like it even more now I can find the food without riffling through packets. It makes me happy to open my pantry and find the food I love that I need to cook with. These foods are the ones I have found that help my family and me to keep a healthy lifestyle so that’s why they are essentials.