Smarter Than Pancakes

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Staples (It’s what for dinner!)

Filed under: Opinions — shaye3 @ 10:53 pm

Nope, not the metal bits that keep your papers together or even office supply store–the must have grocery items!

I was just reading this entry on The Delish, and started thinking about what staples I keep around. Not very long ago, I asked many of my foodie friends just what they kept in their larder. I kind of started my list there, and have been adding and subtracting things according to what I use most.

I imagine there are other people who are trying to come up with their list of must-have grocery items, so I thought I’d throw mine out there. You can do what you want with the information. (Ok, if you sell it for a lot of money, I want at least a cut. Come to think of it, I also want to know how you found someone who would pay you a bunch of money for my grocery list!)

I’d post pictures of my fridge, freezer, and pantries; but they’re all pits of despair. I really need to spend an afternoon cleaning them all out. It seems like I just did that, but for some reason they all need organizing again. (Would someone please invent a self-cleaning refrigerator?)

I will show you a picture of my spice cabinet. I love Penzey’s spices. They have a store in Indianapolis that I visit regularly. Their spices are fresher and cheaper than anything you can get in a grocery store! (This is just the cabinet with the jars of spices. I have another big plastic bin of bags of the things I use a lot of like chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, basil, parsley, etc. in another pantry.)

There are a lot of things on my list that I can’t find in my local Kroger. (Sometimes I can find things at Kroger, but at twice the price.) I try to get a lot of my produce from the farmers’ market or our local fruit stand. (But in Indiana, they’re only open a few months over the summer.)

I have to make a trip to Indy at least once a month to get other things that aren’t readily available here. I get most of my flours and dry goods from the bulk bins at Wild Oats/Whole Foods in Indy. I get a lot of my nut butters, jams, and canned goods at Trader Joe’s. Costco rules for nuts and dried fruits. (Luckily for me, I live less than an hour from the north side of Indy, and all of these store can be found close to a stretch of 86th St. in or around a burg called Castleton on the north side of Indy.)

Ok, before you look at my list, please keep in mind that I’m *trying* to avoid processed foods, but I’m not a fanatic. I try to avoid anything with more than five ingredients, but I there are still a few processed things that I buy like fake meat. I also still keep white flour and sugar on hand–but I swear I try to use healthier options most of the time!

Canned Goods
tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (I want to learn to can my own this summer though.)
beans (pinto, garbanzo, black, cannellini, red kidney, green)
mushroom pieces (for pizzas)
cans and cartons of broth (mostly veggie, sometimes beef, some chicken and some mock-chicken depending on my mood)
diced pimientos (for pizzas)
black olives
chipotles in adobo (store them in the freezer once you open them)
artichoke hearts
light coconut milk
evaporated skimmed milk
fruit packed in juice
jarred applesauce (Those last two I keep on hand for the kid. I’d like to learn to can my own though.)

Condiments (check ingredients for hfcs)
vinegar (red wine, rice, balsamic, white balsamic, cider, white)
Worcestershire sauce
Cholula and Pickapeppa sauces
yellow mustard, ketchup, canola mayo, Dijon mustard
jams, preserves, fruit butters (like apple butter or pumpkin butter)
nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, cashew-macadamia)
low sodium tamari soy sauce and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
miso (I only have red right now, but I’ve gotten yellow before)

extra virgin olive oil
canola oil
walnut oil
sesame oil
pan spray (I like to use regular oil in a mister bottle, but my mister got gunky and died. I’ve been using generic Pam lately.)

Dry Goods
dried fruit (raisins, currants, plums, apricots, blueberries, goji berries, dates, cherries, cranberries, mangoes–I usually get big bags of dried fruit at Costco to keep in the pantry for snacking, baking and putting in oatmeal. Maybe I’ll break down and get a dehydrator and make my own!)
nuts (I currently have pine nuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pecans in my freezer.)
dried lentils (red and brown)
dried split peas
oatmeal (steel cut and rolled)
dried beans (I think I have great northern, garbanzos, and a few others.)
pasta (I try to get whole grain. All different shapes. We’ve recently fallen in love with soba noodles.)
flours (whole wheat pastry, White Lily soft for biscuits, bread flower, regular whole wheat flour)
sugars (honey, molasses, agave nectar, white & brown)
vital wheat gluten
nutritional yeast
regular yeast for breads
grains (barley, millet, quinoa, bulgur, polenta, whole wheat couscous–I know couscous is a pasta, but I keep it with my grains)
rices (I try to get the brown versions, but some like arborio need to be white to make decent risotto.)
sun dried tomatoes
dried mushroom

fresh ginger (sometimes I keep it in the freezer)
sweet potatoes
onions (red and yellow or white)
greens of some sort (I usually buy a head of romaine or green leaf lettuce, chop it up, rinse it, send it through my salad spinner, and then just store it in the salad spinner in the fridge.)
(I buy lots of other produce items, these are just the things I always keep on hand.)

Frozen Foods
firm tofu (It doesn’t come frozen, but I store it in the freezer.)
edamame (I just found shelled edamame in my grocer’s freezer. I did a happy dance!)
baby peas
whole strawberries (No sugar added.)
mixed berries (Also no sugar added.)
Quorn fake chicken products
Morningstar Farms fake sausage crumbles (for pizza) and fake corndogs (for Simon’s lunches)
Other veggie burgers (Frequently homemade, but sometimes not.)
fish & seafood (I like seafood, but we don’t have it very often. I have salmon, scallops, and some tilapia in there right now. Try to avoid farm raised fish if you can though.)
meat (We usually only have meat a couple of times a week, but I think I have some ground beef, some ground lamb, and some chicken breasts in there right now.)

Other Refrigerated
organic milk (We think it tastes a lot better, and I’m afraid of hormones and antibiotics.)
soy milk
eggs (I get the best eggs from a family from my church. Their chickens live in their yard, and the eggs are amazing!)
cheeses (a hunk of parm, some mozzarella, something for grilled cheese sandwiches like colby-jack, chèvre, and who knows what else. We’re cheese addicts. I prefer to grate my own because the pre-grated has some kind of starchy crap in it to keep the shreds apart.)
That’s all I can think of at the moment. I would love to hear what items are must haves for you. (The things that you know you have to immediately replace when you run out or you’ll be in trouble the next time you cook.)

What have you bought and never used? (Mine would be fish sauce. If you buy it, NEVER smell it!)

Please, please, please comment at will!



  1. thanks so much for the castleton/indy shopping tips! i did not realize you were a hoosier either! i live up by the michigan/ohio borders, but am actually in gas city right now because my husband is working here this week. so, i just might jet on down to castleton tomorrow!

    i can’t live without my oil & vinegar, sundried tomatoes, campari tomatoes, cheese (feta, parm, mozz and pinconning are my faves, but i love it all), pitas, pesto, cucumbers, frozen peas and frozen grean beans. just to name a few, ha! my mom and i also made our own stewed tomatoes and bloody mary mix (which is great on its own, too) last year, and am looking forward to doing that again this year. i will be blogging about it for sure! my newfound favorite thing is labna, and i also just got some bee pollen and raw honey to use as natural sweeteners. i’m still working on the official food changeover, and it scares me to think of the brick of velveeta that is in the cupboard! i think i’m gonna have to give that one away, lol.

    in the summer, i could not live without the fresh herb garden i grow on my deck! i can’t wait for that!

    Comment by the delish — Monday, May 12, 2008 @ 1:52 am | Reply

  2. Very comprehensive list, Shaye! I’m totally jealous of your Penzey’s and Whole Foods. 😛 The closest to me for those two places is in MA.

    Comment by Elle — Monday, May 12, 2008 @ 10:51 am | Reply

  3. I lived in Castleton back when my first child was born. Unfortunately back then I didn’t cook. Now that I live and hour and a half away, I still make runs back up there to stock up on all the goodies you can’t find out here in the middle of nowhere! Love, love, love Penzy’s! I can kill a whole morning wondering around that store. 🙂

    Comment by Teresa — Tuesday, August 12, 2008 @ 10:41 am | Reply

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