Saturday, March 13, 2010

In the Pantry

-The post Jan asked for. -

The scrapbooking section at Michael's and the bulk pantry section at Vitamin Cottage pose a similar problem for me: I lose all self control, and randomly buy things that are on sale, because "I'm sure I can find a use for it."

My pantry cupboard is comprised of tons and tons of dry goods. Here's a list. (This might get long. Bear with me.)

Golden Buffalo whole wheat (my flour of choice for most baked goods.)
Corn meal (for dusting the pan for pizza or bagels, and for corn breads and such.)
Semolina flour (makes great pasta and crackers.)
High-gluten flour (added to breads, makes them more moist)
Vital Wheat Gluten (for sandwich bread)
Buckwheat flour (because I felt like playing with it. I don't like it.)

Raw cane sugar
Agave (can be used like honey in many recipes, and is good on toast.)
I want to try experimenting with (real) maple syrup soon, and maybe sorghum.

Nuts & seeds: (tip: nuts are another thing that are cheaper at the health food store.)
Cashews (for snacking, cashew butter, and for granolas)
Raw walnuts (for baking)
Raw almonds
Raw sesame seeds (cracked, then sprinkled on salad, or used in tahini)
Raw sunflower seeds (on salads, or for baking)
Raw Brazil nuts (for snacking)
Alfalfa seeds (for sprouts)
Fenugreek seeds (for sprouts)

Dried Beans:
Whatever sounded good at the time - currently we have
Black beans
Kidney beans
Anasazi beans
Pinto beans

Long grain brown rice
Wild rice mix (Lundberg. Swear by that stuff.)
Quinoa (which is not really a grain, but seems to fall into that category.)

Olive oil
Coconut oil
Sesame oil
Crisco shortening. I use it twice a year, when I make birthday cakes for Two Little Girls and need good decorator frosting. Otherwise, I shun the stuff.

White vinegar (used primarily for cleaning, actually.)
Apple cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Rice vinegar

Canned goods:
Coconut milk
Crushed tomatoes
Diced tomatoes
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste
(Tomato products only because I ran out of garden-grown stuff from the freezer. I hate buying tomatoes.)

Lots and lots of spices - too many to list. Check your local health food store in the bulk spice section - spices are a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest store-bought jarred spices. This should also include garlic, a staple in our house. (There are 65 heads of garlic about 6" tall in my garden right now. This pleases me.) And we used organic, unrefined sea salt in cooking, baking, and at the table.

In the baking cupboard:
Baking powder (aluminum free)
Baking soda
Cocoa powder
Yeast (in the freezer)
Cream of tartar
Need to buy arrowroot to experiment with.
Brown sugar (hoping to run out so I can try making it.)
Powdered sugar (to mix with the shortening twice a year for frosting.)

In the fridge:
dijon mustard
regular mustard
naturally fermented soy sauce
ketchup (Heinz. I'm waiting to run out so I can make some from scratch.)
Worcestershire sauce (because we love it on steak, and I haven't found a reasonable healthy replacement for it yet. And with two elk and a deer in the freezer, we eat a lot of steak.)

Dried coconut
Dried fruit/berry mix (my kids think these are fruit snacks. Please don't tell them otherwise.)
Dates (a favorite snack, also good in oatmeal, granola or baked in cookies or muffins.)

What isn't comprised of vegetables, fruits and meats is comprised of almost entirely the above ingredients. That seems like an incredibly long list, but it's not unbearable. As I run out of those staples, I jot them down on the list on the fridge so I know to replace them. If I get down to less than three sacks of flour, I start to panic. I keep a back stock of some of those things in the linen closet-turned pantry in our bedroom. If I find something on sale that won't expire, I buy as much as I can feasibly store. A big part of healthier eating though, is eating foods that *do expire. It's a hard thing to overcome after years of being raised on food that's so smothered in preservatives that it could never go stale or rot.

There are still random things in the pantry that I didn't include in this list because they're things that have been there a long time, and that I won't be replacing. Things like that long-forgotten can of cream of chicken soup that keeps getting shoved to the back of the cupboard. Or the hoisin sauce in the fridge that I bought for a recipe one time. The above list is just the basics, the things I use often and keep buying more of as they run out.

So is there anything great that I'm missing out on? Would love to hear some suggestions on other things to add to the list!


Dani said...

I have a question. Do you have anything stored in the event that you have an emergency? Like, easy to throw together stuff if you don't have electric or can't use your stove of whatever? I'm just curious. I don't keep processed foods in the house either, but I'm wondering if I should keep a small box of it in the back of the cabinets in the event that we aren't able to cook like normal.

Julie said...

Hmm. We don't really have the usual "emergency foods" like vienna sausages and granola bars. Much of what we have in our pantry (rice, grains, oatmeal, etc.) could be easily cooked in a pot of boiling water, which we'd have access to either on the grill, a fire in our fire pit, or our camp stoves. And a lot of it - like dried fruits, nuts, granola, etc. can be eaten as is.
Losing electricity is pretty rare around here, and it's never lasted longer than half an hour or so. Thankfully I've had enough experience cooking dinner on a campfire, and we've got all the supplies we'd need for that. And there are usually enough breads, muffins, cookies, etc. on hand to keep us satiated for a time.
Good question - one I've been tossing around a bit for awhile since much of our food is perishable now.
There are also enough home-canned goods in the pantry that we could use those to help supplement our meals - fruits, sauces and jams, etc.
I might have to turn this into a blog subject, thanks Dani!