My mother always had a basic pantry, as long as I can remember... even in the tiny house she called home in her elderly years. As she grew older, her pantry reflected her preferences of what is important more than previous years. For there may have been a few cans of vegetables on the shelves but one would find multiple large cans of coffee. I come by it honestly. ;)
A basic pantry is important for many reasons. Some of which are:
- You can stock up on essential items when they are on sale.
- You have extra cans, packages, etc. of necessary items so you do not have to run to the grocery store at the last minute.
- A well stocked pantry provides essential items for your most used recipes should you decide to bake or cook something at the last minute.
- Keeping a basic pantry provides a foundation to what is most important should you decide to deepen the pantry.
I have a few places that I keep pantry items. Obviously in a kitchen cabinet resides those items I use all the time for recipes. There is a set of four shelves in the garage that is the extension of those shelves, where more of these items reside. Then there is the tall yellow chimney pantry we inherited from my mother-in-law. It stands in the kitchen in all its' chippy yellow beauty.
I also consider the freezer in the refrigerator and the deep freeze part of my pantry. We had a very small chest style deep freeze for years that we had been given when it was old already. When it finally died, we went without one for years. It became a priority when I was still working seasonal part-time work on campus and we purchased a medium size chest style deep freeze at that time.
The freezer allows me to purchase meat on sale, packages of frozen veggies and fruit on sale, ice cream on sale (and left in the deep freeze so it won't tempt me in the Kitchen!), etc. I also freeze bags of flour for a week or two after purchasing to help kill any bug eggs in them. Sometimes I'm glad we can't see what may be in our food. If you don't have very much room, our first deep freeze was what was called "apartment size" and it didn't take up much room at all.
I keep some items in the plastic grocery store bags (like whole chickens) when I put them in the deep freeze, making them much easier to lift out without standing on my head to do so.
I probably should mention the red shelves in the kitchen that hold bulk products in jars and baking items like flour, sugar, brown sugar, etc. I also keep both milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips in jars on this shelf as they need a more consistent temperatures. These were my husband's bookshelves in his childhood bedroom and continue to work just fine as an extension of the pantry.
So, what do I consider essential in the pantry? My list would probably be slightly different than yours but there would be a major overlap in some areas. You may not consider the two types of Indian sauces in jars that I buy at Aldi's as being essential but I'm pretty sure you will want the baking basics.
My priorities are decided upon by looking through my most used recipes and my previous grocery lists (I keep all my once a month stock up grocery lists in an envelope). I will provide examples of my pantry list when I write more about deepening the pantry next time!
Image: The yellow chimney pantry holds a lot of my basic supplies and condiments that do not need to be refrigerated. Ummmm... the table is also our charging table, that may obvious.