Reasonable Resolutions: Cleaning out your pantry to kick off the New Year

by Melody on January 17, 2012

About the middle of December, I decided to take the kids on a donation run.  We dropped some items off at Martha’s Cupboard in Richland, but I also knew that we could definitely go through our pantry and give to those less fortunate.

We have really pared down our pantry essentials over the last year, but there were still some items that I had been clinging to.  We were able to drop off a full bag of food items that could be put to much better use by someone else than just collecting dust in our pantry.  After cleaning and reorganizing a little, I realized that our pantry is looking a lot different these days.

Both our pantry and freezer seem to have the same core group of items all the time.  We have cut way back on processed foods and my plan for this year is to try more homemade items using our pantry staples, like salad dressing for example.  One of the bonuses that came out of doing a little reorganizing was that now it is much easier to see what we really have.  I’m finding ways to repurpose items on our shelves and it has caused some serious second-guessing when I am planning my shopping trips.  I think having less has made me so much more aware of what we actually use and actually need.

I went through and wrote down our basic pantry staples.  These are the items that I tend to always have in the pantry and can be used together to make some kind of a meal or side dish.  We generally have a few different kinds of snacks for the kids as well (Goldfish crackers, animal cookies), cereal and the Kirkland Signature tortilla chips from Costco.  We don’t have many other snacks in the house because I will eat them all in one sitting.  Especially if they are extra salty.

Pantry Staples:

  • Organic brown rice (Lundberg from Costco)
  • Beans (canned and dried)
  • Tomato products (diced, paste and sauce)
  • Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni and penne)
  • Oatmeal (quick cooking and old-fashioned)
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive oil
  • White, balsamic and red wine vinegar
  • Yeast
  • Taco seasoning
  • Cornstarch
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Basic spices

Baking Items:

  • Flour
  • White, powdered and brown sugar
  • Vanilla and almond extract
  • Baking powder and soda
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cornmeal
  • Dried fruit of some variety
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Flax seed
  • Cocoa powder

Fridge/freezer Items:

  • Ground beef and boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Frozen vegetables (peas, green beans, spinach)
  • Block cheese
  • Chicken bouillon
  • Salsa
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Sour Cream

This list is very loose and we sometimes have more, sometimes less.  It also doesn’t include fresh produce, as that obviously varies by season.  These are just items that we tend to gravitate towards and have several go-to meals that can be made from these particular things.

A few things that Emilie would add if this were her list:

  • Raw cane sugar (sub for white sugar)
  • Coconut oil (sub for vegetable/canola oil)
  • Sucanat (sub for white sugar)
  • Hemp seed
  • Quinoa
  • Steel cut oats

Is there something on your “staples” list that I don’t have on mine?  I’ve really been enjoying having less in the pantry.  Less clutter, less to organize and much easier to see what we have and need.  I’m looking forward to seeing how we can make the most of having less.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim January 17, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Not necessarily a staple, but the most delicious homemade ranch dressing ever:

And I just started making homemade buttermilk since I’ve been using it a lot and it’s cheap and easy, use it in the ranch!


Emilie January 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Thank you Kim! These are great!


lynn January 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Would you like to teach Gary how to organize a pantry?? lol


Lora January 17, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for the Ranch dressing recipe Kim! Also, maybe Emilie could answer a question for me…..why sucanat rather than organic sugar (that’s what I have always used…)? And where do you get sucanat around the T.C.? Thanks!!


Emilie January 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I actually use sucanat for both white and brown sugar (it is brown in color). It is less processed than the evaporated cane sugar I buy that is white (Costco is the best price). I’ve been buying Sucanat when I see deals online (Vitacost for example) but you can purchase it probably cheapest through Azure Standard. Hope that helps! Here is a good article on Sucanat.


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