what's in your pantry - week four - keeping the home fires burning


Welcome back for the fourth installment of Keeping the Home Fires Burning.  We talked about the importance of home cooked meals last week and based on your comments, that time together is crucial to keeping the family together.  In order to be able to put a healthy, tasty meal on the table obviously you need to have food in the house. I know when I'm faced with hungry mouths to feed and empty cupboards the choice to grab fast food versus a run to the grocery store can be overwhelming.

That brings us to today's topic - the kitchen pantry.

"Since I never like to get in my car and go anywhere, ever (don’t be like me; I have issues, man) I try my best to structure things so that I have a stockpile of basic essentials that I buy in bulk once or twice a year…then I just fill in the fresh things (milk, bread, eggs, fresh produce, meat, etc) at the grocery store as needed."  Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman

I told you when we started this series that I would keep it real so as tempting as it was to straighten mine up before taking pictures, what you see here is what my family sees on most any given day.  As you can see, I don't have a true pantry so I have designated three different cupboards throughout the kitchen to hold our staples.

The largest holds cans, cereals, bread and pasta. I try to keep items separated but it is hit or miss.

In another cupboard, I have two shelves designated for snacks and cooking essentials...spices, oils, cooking wine vinegars, etc.  And one small cupboard for baking needs.

Because my space is limited, I need to come up with a system that will allow me to store as many staples as possible in minimal space.

To get started and take stock of what I already have on hand, I removed everything from the shelves and wiped them down.  Before re-stocking I checked for expiration dates and tossed and tossed and tossed.  (Insert guilty heart here for wasting so much food.)

I always look for bulk items that come in reusable storage containers so that when the contents run out I can use the container for something else that needs to be stored in the pantry. It would be nice to have matching containers but that's something that is just not in our budget right now.

Now that everything is in it's proper place I can start my shopping list.  It's amazing how easy it is to see what I need on market day when things are organized.

I am hoping that seeing my spices and oils will inspire me to try new dishes.

Even my little baking station looks better all spiffed up.

I went on line and found some great sources for stocking a pantry from some of my favorite cooks and organization experts.  I have provided their links for your reference.

Martha Stewart's pantry must haves
Martha Stewart's pantry checklist
Martha Stewart's setting up a pantry
Paula Deen's pantry basics
The Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond pantry basics
Real Simple pantry staples checklist

Now it's your turn...What are your top pantry basics?   Would I find order if I opened up your pantry today?  What pantry organizational tools were worth the money?

As always, thanks for sharing.

xo, Patty


  1. You have inspired me to do this myself. I need to clean out my pantry and regroup. Summer is a good time to do that so that I can stock pile before Winter comes back around. (Insert laugh here- we really do not have a true Winter in South Carolina!)

  2. About 2 months ago I did exactly the same thing. I took everything out and also had a guilty heart for tossing. But guess what? That was a long time ago looking at my pantry now. I need a system that keeps it organized, yikes! Yes, just call me; not taking the time to put it back in it's proper spot! Hard to break old habits!

  3. Good Morning!
    What a timely post.
    I just mentioned to my daughter yesterday, that it's time to organize and clean out the cupboards again.

    We too have very limited cupboard space, and so a lot of my canned items and bulk items stay on the shelves downstairs in the fruit room, until I need them

    I'm a lot like Ree, and keep a good stockpile of basics so that I only have to make a trip to the store for fresh stuff.
    That's another issue ... we live 4 miles from the nearest grocery store, and 60 miles from the grocery store where we do the majority of our shopping.
    We have to make it count... especially with gas prices.

    Well.. thanks for the inspiration.. it's just what I needed to get things organized today :)

    Catch ya later...

  4. I am going to fluff my pantry and do a post, that is how much you have inspired me. I always have pasta and rice, tuna, soup or stock, and a variety of oils and vinegars. xo

  5. Since I decided to avoid packaged and canned good this year, I don't need much pantry space. I do need lots of fridge, freezer and spice/herbs storage. Using an antique medicine chest for spices, baking powder, etc. works great for me. ~ Maureen

  6. You def do not want to see my cupboards, mega disorganised, so the big clean out is on the cards!!!!
    I always keep lots of spices (we love curries), never short of baking ingredients (a must) & passata for my fav Italian food, lots of other bits & pieces but these would be the main essentials.
    Great post Patty x

  7. I do try to keep my pantry organized...mainly because I, too, was wasting so many things that had expired I was feeling guilty. By keeping it neater, and more organized, I can see what I have to use and I am trying to use up some of the extras that I have on hand.

    Now the refrigerator? Whole different story- NOT pretty right now- xo Diana

  8. Wow these are some great posts. Thanks for the pantry lists. Awesome!!

  9. Interesting enough, I recently cleaned out and reorganized a few cupboards: one for canned items and rice, beans etc. one for teas, hot chocolate, coffee. The cupboard with all the baking supplies still needs some attention!

  10. I love peeking into other people's pantry and fridge to see what they eat and cook! I see you shop at Stater Bros. We purchase a lot of the same types of staples!
    I have found that a lazy susan works great for storing things in the panty. I have one on the top shelf of mine that holds my vinegars and such. And one on the baking shelf that holds my baking powders, sodas, salts, cocoa powder, vanilla and such. One quick spin helps me find exactly what I need. I sort my envelopes of spices like taco seasonings and such, the same way you do, in a shallow shoebox type container so that it can be seen easily. I stack my cans with like items, and store my big bulky items like flour, sugar and oatmeal on the bottom.
    Mine is NOT nice and tidy like yours right now. It doesn't seem to take long to get it all messy does it!!! I love order, and if I lived alone, it would be tidy all the time.
    Love your series on keeping a home Patty!!
    XO Kris
    PS Getting the grands together would be great. Maybe you and Elaine can come with the little ones for a swimming date this summer.
    : )

  11. Well Patty, if you looked in my pantry today, you would find it well stocked, clean and organized.
    Yesterday was another story. A trip to Costco and Walmart had left me with stuff on the table, floor and counters. It is amazing how much I can get in my small RV pantry when it is organized. Knowing I will have kids a lot this summer, I wanted to be well stocked. I put like things together. Oils, vinegars, condiments and packaged seasonings.
    I always keep my coffee and teas close to my coffee pot along with creamers, sugar etc. Baking supplies all together. Canned goods and boxed rices and potatoes.
    I have some large jars for beans, and rice. My snacks for hubby and kids are all easily found in front of some less used items.
    Like I said yesterday would have been a different story. I had a large pantry in my house and featured it once on my blog. But I get by now. The motor home has a small pantry too and I keep it stocked so we are always ready to roll. What a coincidence you posted this today. I would have been inspired to organize if I hadn't already.

  12. Hi Patty, thanks for the great tips! I am in the process of setting up the pantry in our new home, so this was very helpful! Have a great weekend!

  13. Patty,
    A friend recently co~hosted an event in our home and when she opened my cupboards she said,"Oh, my...you do need HELP!" Let me explain! My first PAID employment was in the small town grocery store as a stocker! My cabinets (pantry) look (somewhat) like the shelves of a grocery store. Then throw in my years as a Librarian...yep! everything is in alphabetical order! Now include my career years as an Educator...and you get Seasonal elimination of dated items and replenshining of needed stock! My family has gotten use to this...my friends stand in awe...the closest friends know I need HELP!!!


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