It’s important to have a well-stocked pantry. This does not mean that you have to have enough food to feed an army, it just means you should have certain things on hand so you don’t have to run to the store every time you want to make something.
With dry goods, you can make just about anything. Make sure that your dry goods are well sealed to keep bugs out.
- All-purpose flour
- Cake flour
- Bread flour
- Semolina – for pasta
- Cornmeal – both yellow and white
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda (one in the pantry, one in the fridge)
- Rice Flour – for batters
- White Pure Cane Sugar
- Brown Pure Cane Sugar
- Confectioner’s Pure Cane Sugar (at least 2 boxes)
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Cornflakes – for toppings
- Arborio Rice – for Risotto
- Medium Grain Rice
- Long Grain Rice
- Jasmine Rice
- Spaghetti or Linguine (preferred)
- Farfalle – pasta bows
- Elbow Macaroni
I usually keep a supply of things I can readily make desserts from.
- Dark chocolate chips
- White chocolate chips
- Almond Paste
- Dried Cherries
- Dried Cranberries
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Gel Food Coloring
This, of course, is more personal taste, but I do think there are some canned goods that should be in every pantry.
- Whole Plum Tomatoes
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Great Northern Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Black Beans
- Garbanzo (Chick Peas) Beans
- Green Beans
- Boston Brown Bread (it’s canned and fabulous!)
- Barbecued Beans
- Refried Beans (for an emergency Mexican dinner)
- Decent chili (for impromptu Chili Dogs)
- Beets (if you don’t have time to prepare them yourself)
Although the refrigerator door is not technically a pantry, there are some things that I always have on hand:
- Worcestershire sauce
- White Worcestershire sauce
- Tiger Sauce
- Chicken Base
- Beef Base
- Vegetable Base
- Fish or Lobster Base
- Girard’s Champagne Salad Dressing
- Russian Mustard
- English Mustard
- Whole Grain Mustard
- Dijon Mustard
- Zatarain’s Mustard
- Small Sweet Pickles (Gerkins)
- Kosher Dills
- Tomato Paste in a tube
- Anchovy Paste in a tube
- Hot Red Pepper Paste in a tube
- Best Foods (Hellman’s in the East) Mayonnaise
- Homade Chili Sauce
- Armenian Red Pepper Sauce
- Caramel Sauce
- Cocktail Olives
- Maraschino Cherries
- Watermelon Pickle
- Cocktail Onions
- Shallots in Oil
- Rose Petal Preserves
- Multi-color Red Peppers
- Chopped Spinach
- Pearl Onions
- Puff Pastry
- Egg Roll Skins
Oils and Vinegar
- Good Balsamic Vinegar
- Cider Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- White Wine Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- White Wine
- Red Wine
- Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Olive Oil
- Vegetable Oil (I prefer corn)
- Sesame Seed Oil
- Soy Sauce
- Creme De Menthe Syrup
- Chocolate Milano Syrup
- Rose Petal Syrup
These are some of the staples that I keep in my pantry. With these ingredients, I can make a lot of dishes. You don’t have to go out and buy sherry, vermouth, and Marsala, just use the cooking variety. Wine, however, should be the real deal – Trader Joe’s has Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw), and award-winning wine that is just fine.
I also usually have blue cheese, Jarlsberg or Madrigal Swiss cheese, white cheddar, and sometimes fresh mozzarella. I always have Parmesan in stock.
If you have other things you consider essential, we would love to hear from you!
Of course, there are a lot of things in my pantry. I am just going to list a few things here that I think you might like. Some are available on Amazon, and some are not. If possible, I will provide a link to where you might be able to purchase hard-to-find items.
More Products to Consider for your Pantry
The following are items I find to be essential for my pantry. Please make notes about what foods you like and use the most for your pantry.
Mountain High Yoghurt
Just, in my opinion, as there is no other mayonnaise other than Best Foods in the West/Hellman’s in the East, there is no other yogurt other than Mountain High. I cannot say enough about this yogurt. It is smooth and really creamy. We use plain yogurt all the time, particularly with a little Sour Cherry Preserves.
I remember my mother telling me that when I was a little girl I really liked plain yogurt. It was probably the Carnation brand, as when I was that age, Carnation was the best of the best on the West Coast. Nestle apparently discontinued the fresh milk products, pity. The best milk products now are from Alta Dena on the West Coast. But, even though I love Alta Dena, their yogurt is too much like gelatin, and it’s way too tangy. You could never substitute it for sour cream like you can Mountain High.
Once you find a brand of yogurt that you really like, you can make your own by using some of your yogurt as a mother.
Rolo the Computer Cat and Yogurt
We had a wonderful Maine Coon cat, Rolo. One day I noticed that Rolo wasn’t eating very much, and all he wanted to do was lie on the desk and sleep. I know this is typical cat behavior, but he could hardly even jump up on the desk she was so weak. I figured that Rolo either had the stomach flu, or had eaten something bad, so I decided to give him a little yogurt mixed with a tiny bit of wet food. He lapped it up. I did this for three days, and by the end of the third day, he was fine. His coat was nice and shiny, too. I was so thankful to the Mountain High Yoghurt company that I wrote to them.
Rolo was our kitty for a very long time and finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge at 15. He lived a long life, and we miss him every day.
When I moved to Glendale, I discovered sour cherry preserves, and I fell in love. The problem, I discovered, was that the preserves usually had pits, and you would be happy eating when you would suddenly bite into a pit!
I figured that there must be a brand that did not have the pits. Trying several, and each time I would be surprised by a pit. I decided to stop buying sour cherry. Then one day, I was at a store that had the preserves in these very pretty little glass jars, and they had sour cherry, and not only that, the jar said there were no pits!! I had found the Noyan brand of preserves. According to the website:
Only naturally ripened fresh fruits purchased from local orchards or harvested from family farms are selected for both product lines…Over hundred specialists travel to each region of Armenia to collect recipes from elder grandmas in the villages to create this product….All fruit used for The Artisan Food products are grown in small, family owned farms or harvested from wild orchards. They grow on land which is free of pesticides and chemicals….Both juices and preserves are for health conscious customers, with no added preservatives, additives, artificial flavorings and colorings. Both are for those who want to experience the taste of own childhood.
The preserves come in lovely little glass jars. I save the jars and use them for loose spices, spice mixes, colored sugars, and other odds and ends.
If you live near an Armenian market, I highly recommend these products. There are a few places where you can buy the products online if you are not so fortunate. Amazon even has it available from the Little Armenia shop in Hollywood, California. Imagine! These preserves are lovingly prepared in Armenia, and brought to your table!
Alta Dena Dairy Products
Alta Dena dairy products are great. I started using them when I moved to Glendale, and that was usually what was available at the Armenian store. I found that the milk had a really creamy taste, and as a bonus, one of the first dairies to not use milk from cows treated with rBST.
Alta Dena also makes the best Creme Fraiche, the best sour cream, and the best cottage cheese. If you can find it at a local store, it’s a little cheaper than at the supermarket.
They even deliver! Find out if Alta Dena delivers in your area!
I have one can of Cafe La Llave at home, and another at work.
You don’t have to make espresso, you can use whatever coffee pot you have available – not one of those pod things, though (I don’t know why anyone would buy one of those, what happens if you didn’t order pods and you’re out of coffee!!!!). Here’s what I do to make mine:
- French Press – very nice and even makes crema
- Stove Top Espresso pot – when I don’t feel like dealing with the espresso machine
- Espresso machine – when I am in the mood to impress
- Percolator – when I want that comforting sound from childhood, and that wonderful aroma that comes out of it.
- Drip Coffee maker – I don’t use this often, sometimes at someone else’s house
- Melita Ready Set Joe – I put the filter thingy on top of a cup, put a filter in it, put coffee in the filter, and pour hot water on top. Mmmm! Even my boss gets excited when I make it.
I am fortunate to live in Glendale, California, where there are plenty of Armenian stores. A few of them have Lily raw wildflower honey. This honey is not filtered and comes either with or without a honeycomb. I prefer to get it without the comb.
If you have not had raw honey you are missing something. When honey is pasteurized and filtered, it loses a lot of its bright, fresh flavor. I highly recommend this.
There is a lot of evidence that honey is also good for wounds. This is what the ancients used, and was the accepted method up until World War I when antibiotics came into favor. Well, there are some “superbugs” that laugh at antibiotics, but they certainly don’t laugh at honey. A paper published in a medical journal by Molan, P. C – The evidence for honey promoting wound healing has a lot more information on this topic.
Better than Bouillon
This is something that lives in my refrigerator and I get the heebee-geebees when I’m running out. I use this a lot. Keeping cans of stock in your pantry takes a lot of room, making stock yourself is great if you have time and room in your freezer, but having this on hand means I don’t have to worry. Yes, I do occasionally use stock in a can, and I have a bag of seafood stock in my freezer right now. I also have one chicken, one beef, and one turkey, and now that I know, I will be ordering one lobster from Amazon. The lobster one is great for making seafood stews and sauces and is very difficult to find at the local national chain grocery store.
Tonno Genova Tuna packed in olive oil
There are some really good things about tuna packed in olive oil. First, because the tuna has more flavor, less mayonnaise is required.
“It has been shown that tuna packed in oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise is actually lower in fat than tuna packed in spring water and mixed with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Starting with tuna packed in oil allows people to use less mayonnaise to achieve the desired consistency and taste, thereby cutting down on fat and calories and providing a better tasting salad.”
In addition, olive oil is good for you http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olive_oil#Nutrition_and_health_effects:
“Olive oil contains the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids, and oleuropein, a chemical that prevents the oxidation of LDL particles. It is these properties that are thought to contribute to the health benefits of olive oil”.
Armenian Pepper Sauce
You have to get this great sauce. Wonderful in a variety of foods, it also thickens sauces at the last minute, but you would want an already robust sauce. It will also serve as a desperate source of sautéed red peppers in a recipe.
If you live in Glendale, California, it’s not hard to find because there are Armenian stores every few blocks, but if you are not so fortunate, you can probably find Red Pepper Paste in Mediterranean stores. My favorite brand is Tukas, but Zergut is very good as well.
Understand that you cannot use hot sauce as a substitute. Red pepper sauce is made mostly from Paprika peppers and sweet red peppers. Although it might have a bit of a bite, it is not vinegar-based like hot sauces.
I use a lot of Zatarain’s products because they taste good and are easy to prepare. I use rice mixes, spices, and mustards. You can’t go wrong with Zatarains.
Grandma Maud’s Southern Seasoning
I bought this seasoning on a whim one day, and I just love it. It has no meat or MSG, and yet when you season things with it, it gives a wonderful flavor of smoky bacon. It’s wonderful on green beans, and essential for Fried Green Tomatoes if you want to make them vegetarian. If you can’t find it in your local market, it is also available online at Grandma Maud’s.