A Basic Pantry

Observant readers of this blog might notice that many of my recipes use the same ingredients over and over again. That has a lot to do with the way I grocery shop and stock my pantry. I buy the same things again and again each month. This method is a huge time and money saver for us.

You might think that sounds boring and that we eat the exact same thing all the time, but I promise you that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s all about being creative with the ingredients we love and mixing things up easily with different meats, spices, starches and veggies.

I have designed our grocery list so that it reflects these staples. That way, I just go through the list and tally about up how many of each item I need. Any additional, out-of-the-ordinary ingredients get written in by hand.

Here is a copy of the master grocery list we used last year. I’ve updated it a bit since then to reflect some changing tastes, our new snacking habits and price differences. But overall, it should give you a good idea. And please keep in mind, we do not buy each of the items listed on that list each month.

I work through our pantry basics each month as I plan our meals. If I want to try a recipe or have an idea for a new meal that includes an item not in our pantry, I’ll pick it up during one of our quick produce/dairy runs during the month. If I’m getting close to our budget limit for the month, I’ll just wait and add it to the list for the next month.

I use this same basic principle when I write customer menu plans for Stolen Moments Menu Planning. I figure it’s a proven system that has worked so well in our house, it’s easily adjustable for every family. Plus, I know first hand the time and money saving benefits of cooking this way. (And I’ve yet to receive a complaint that there is not enough variety in the plans.)

How do you stock your pantry? Do you have a list of staples you buy and cook with each month? I think my favorite pantry staples are all of the spices I buy. Different spices make different meals so easy. What’s your favorite pantry staple?

Don’t forget to check in with Jen and Toni to see what they’ve been up to in their kitchens this week at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and The Happy Housewife.