Have you been enjoying the #HappyKitchenProject? I will admit I was excited about sharing with you all, but I also have learned so much myself! Did you see the DIY Terra Cotta Pots and Wooden Spoons from Designer Collective’s post yesterday?! I can’t WAIT to make some for my kitchen this weekend. I’m hype that each day we are a step closer to transforming our kitchens into places and spaces that we love!
We’ve chosen color palettes, equipped our kitchens with the tools they need, and even did a few quick things to spruce them up. We’ve been busy honey! Today, on day 9 of this fantastic collaboration, I’m giving a crash course in effective pantry cooking. What is pantry cooking you ask?
Pantry cooking is…well, cooking from your pantry. EFFECTIVE pantry cooking, is being able to walk to your pantry, readily identify (and quickly find) what you want to cook, and prepare it without breaking a sweat. Nothing makes my kitchen happier during the week than some good ol’ planned impromptu pantry cooking.
You didn’t read that wrong. See, if you plan your pantry, then an impromptu meal (one that isn’t in your meal plans) are not hard to do! So that’s step one. PLAN. Life happens. Things don’t go as we plan. Sometimes baseball practice runs over, or you get stuck in traffic coming from piano lessons. If you’re like me, sometimes you’ve been chasing a toddler all day and by the time you get the rest of the crew, you just don’t feel like being Chef Emeril Lagasse. Can I get a witness?!
You want your pantry stocked with the things you and your family like to eat, so a great meal is never far away. I will share in part two of this pantry cooking post on Friday a checklist of basic items you need for your pantry and how to “flavor” your pantry based on your family’s tastes.
2. Assess your pantry. Make it a point to periodically check what you have, what’s running low, or what you may want to add. Then you can add it to your grocery list and your meal plans for the coming week. In the grand scheme of things, this saves time AND money. Hello, you know I am ALL about saving my coins!
If you’re a Baller on a Budget like me, you can get my fancy bag here. No, I’m not an affiliate nor is it my product. I just love it. Now, back to your pantry.
3. Have at least three meals that you can whip up at anytime, without a recipe. I call this the “Pantry Dream Team,” and every happy kitchen needs one. I always keep at least two salad bags in the fridge, chicken breasts, a pack of ground turkey, broccoli, rice, Asian spices, pasta, and pasta sauce. On any given day that all hell may break loose with our busy schedules, I can make grilled chicken salads, Spaghetti with salad, or Honey Garlic Chicken with brown rice and broccoli. And truthfully, I can switch those ingredients around within themselves and get four more meals. THAT’S a dream team. THAT’S effective pantry cooking.
4. Stock your pantry with foods that can stretch beyond one or two meals.
5. Use the FIFO method. FIFO means “First In, First Out.” If you bought it first it needs to be cooked first. When organizing your pantry, keep the older ingredients toward the front so you remember to use them up first. If you are running low on brown sugar and buy a new bag, add spice muffins (or something) to your menu for the coming week so you can use it up before opening a new one. This saves money, and gives your family the freshest ingredients.
6. Make Bulk Mixes. Saturdays in my house, my family EXPECTS pancakes. So when I shop one of the bags of flour I buy is just to make my own pancake mix. I put it in the pantry, in a canister and label it just like the flour, and sugar. I don’t spend a bunch of money on prepackaged mixes, I control what’s in my family’s food, and I can just add my egg or fruit to my batter and pancake mornings are a breeze. Pantry cooking like a BOSS!
7. Understand pantry cooking extends beyond the “pantry.” It really should be called Staple Cooking because you are cooking from your staples (all of the foods you family always uses). So when stocking your pantry include frozen foods your family uses frequently, dairy products if you use them, spices, condiments, and even produce, not just the dry goods. We keep onions, garlic, and frozen fruit for smoothies. ALWAYS.
8. Organize your pantry for YOUR family. Don’t let Pinterest pull you into buying a bunch of stuff you don’t need or won’t use, or even setting your pantry up in a way that won’t work for your family. We are all different. Consider your family, their tastes, your lifestyle when planning the pantry. We love to entertain. So my pantry has a section where I can entertain on the fly. All of my baking supplies are in one spot, the kids’ lunch items and after school snacks are grouped together also, and where they can reach them to make my life easier. I’m basically saying DO YOU.
Tomorrow, we are back in Vancouver with Brooke and Tina, and I know you are going to love what they have planned! Don’t forget you can follow the #HappyKitchenProject fun on Instagram. Tag us @designerscollective_ and @chewsylovers! We are so excited to have you joining us.
Pop Quiz: What’s one thing you can go to your pantry and cook right now?
Let’s Get It Poppin’,