I’m on kind of a mission to whip the house into shape by fall. This is no easy feat, since I am by no means the neatest person ever. It kinda drives Bil nuts. I moved in a year ago, and there are still boxes. Still. I know, it’s awful. Not as awful as not getting around to taking down your Christmas tree until April…but it’s up there.
Anyway, I’d like to get through everything before we button up the house for fall. Up north here, we do things like button up the house. I mean, we don’t actually do anything to the house, but we just try not to leave it. Which means the house should be a clean and tidy haven stocked with everything we need so that no one has to run to the store for baking soda or something in a blizzard.
Today, I tackle the pantry. When I got into the whole paleo deal, I wanted a program to follow. Not just of food to make, but what to buy, how to stock it, how to organize it, and when to replenish it. I have really high expectations of strangers on the internet. And I’m a control freak. I thought it might be nice to lay out what I do and how I do it for all the other cavebabies out there…so here it is, in all it’s glory.
Let’s go shelf by shelf, shall we?
The top shelf is appliances that are infrequently used (pasta machine, fondue pot, teeny tiny crock pot, etc) and the next shelf is Bil’s. He mostly stores supplements and cereal there. Let’s not talk about it.
The next two shelves are the paleo shelves. I don’t really call them that. But they are the shelves that are at eye level, and do not require stooping nor stepping to get to them. This means it is both convenient and psychologically better to have the food you should be eating anyway in easy reach. This is how stores merchandise their shelves. Eh? Economics! Science! Anyway, if you think you might be tempted by less than clean food OR you are lazy like me, consider organizing you pantry in a similar way.
You can make food without spices, but it’s sooooo much better WITH spices. I have only gotten comfortable (and if I do say, accomplished) at spices recently, and it has made a huge difference in my cooking. I obsessed for months over the best way to store spices. At one point, I was going to do a flashy DIY of glass hex jars…turns out, the one that worked was Spice Stacks and 3oz jars. There are lots of cheap ways to do this though, like spice tins or small 4oz Ball jars (which, if I were to do this now, is probably what I would do).
Spices to Start With
- red pepper flakes
- all spice
- anise/fennel (you can safely substitute one for the other)
- red pepper flakes
- paprika (spanish smoked is my fav)
I personally just accumulate spices as recipes I like call for them. If I use them multiple times, they ear a permanent spot in the spice rack.
Oils, Vinegars, Canned protein, etc.
- Coconut Oil – I use this for almost everything, so I buy in bulk and stock up when it’s on sale.
- Extra Light Olive oil – I didn’t even know this was a thing, but I use it for making mayo since it’s lighter and less in-your-face olivey than the regular stuff.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – strictly for salads, or for drying out zucchini noodles over low heat only.
- Sesame Oil – in Asian sauces.
- White Vinegar – for a truly nonexistent flavor, or for cleaning.
- Sherry Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar – this is in everything
- White Wine Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar – for cooking and drizzling over stuff
- Apple Cider Vinegar – also good for warding off sickness – 2T in hot water with 1T honey.
- Brown Rice Vinegar – Asian applications.
Random Staples to Have on Hand
- Olives – to add to salads, to snack on, to entertain (if you do that kind of thing)
- Roasted Red Peppers – salads, put a little goat cheese inside for an appetizer
- Tinned protein – I keep salmon and tuna on hand. Also consider chicken and sardines. You can make a quick mayo salad with them, or use them as emergency protein on top of green salad.
- Capers – I put them on white fish before baking.
- Coconut Manna/Creamed Coconut – everything.
- Honey – this should probably be on an out of the way shelf…meh.
Nuts, Flours, Staples
- Almonds, whole – snacking, making into almond butter.
- Coconut – in both flake and shred form
- Coconut Flour – I use either this or Almond Flour (located in the freezer) for baking.
- Cocoa Powder – duh
- Arrowroot Powder – starch alternative
- Tapioca Flour – I got it to experiment. I have no recommendations yet.
- Carmalized Coconut Flakes – mmmmmm.
- Some leftover trailmix from camping
- Raisins – I usually only use these for trail mix or Carrot Raisin Salad.
- Coconut Milk – I like Thai Kitchen, always full fat. I tried a few brands without the guar gum, but I find the consistency really limits me to using the coconut milk for hot dishes – I like using it for faux ice cream, smoothies, etc.
- Tea – lots of it. I’m obsessed with Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet. Like I bought a case of it.
I keep a few random vegetables on hand and some paleo friendly soups (and one not-friendly soup, but I love it so much). The important thing here is tomatoes. I use crushed tomatoes for meat sauce, and occasionally use diced or puree for something else. I’ve had that can of plum tomatoes for-ev-er. I’d stock up on crushed and sauce.
Odds and Ends
A jar of emergency marinara, cream of whatever soup for making hotdish, and jams. Mmmmm jam. There’s also some pickled beets (I put up almost 20 pints/year) and those Power Crunchies…I just tried one. Not great.
Non-Paleo Baking Shelf
The bottom shelf is mostly baking ingredients that I will use for special treats or for baking for others. I’m not willing to toss things that would otherwise keep only to buy them again.
This side has the slightly more paleo ingredients…unrefined sugars, baking soda/powder, vanilla extract, etc.
Down below is cat food, coconut soda, bottled honey, and a tackle box cake decorating kit.
I also have onions, avocado, plantains, and garlic in iron baskets on the wall.
So that’s it! Any burning questions?