Basic Kitchen Pantry Stocking

Basic kitchen pantry stocking is essential for cooks with little time to spare. With ingredients always on hand, you can prepare meals at a moment's notice, which means you won't be relying as much on the pizza guy. You'll always have everything you need to prepare a wonderful meal.

Your Pantry List
This list should include enough ingredients to make both meals and desserts. Here's what to get on your first trip to the grocery store:

Baking chocolate, various kinds
Baking powder
Baking soda
Beans (dried and canned)
Biscuit mix
Bread crumbs
Brownie and cake mixes
Cake frosting
Canned fruit and vegetables
Chicken and beef broth
Chocolate chips
Cocoa powder
Corned beef (canned)
Corn syrup (light and dark)
Evaporated milk
Flour (all-purpose and self-rising)
Ham (canned)
Instant yeast packets
Onion soup mix
Peanut butter
Pie filling
Salad dressing
Salmon (canned)
Spaghetti sauce
Sugar (brown and white)
Sweetened condensed milk
Tuna (canned)
Vanilla extract

The All-Important Pantry Stocking List
A list of what you have on hand is essential. When stocking your pantry for the first time, make a list of everything you bought. You can do this either using a pencil and pad of paper or a spreadsheet document. In order to keep up with pantry items, simply subtract the item from your list when you use it. A quick look at your list will remind you of what needs stocking.

Where to Put Your Pantry Items
Not every kitchen has a built-in pantry, but that doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of stocking up. If you have room, a bookcase with doors can be made into a pantry. Even stocking food in your cabinets is better than going without. Of course, this may limit the amount of stocking you're able to do. When all else fails, find a spot in another room. Stocking up is about having the food on hand, even if it isn't in the kitchen.

Pantry Organization
Stocking up is useless if you don't keep your pantry organized. An unorganized pantry not only makes it hard to find needed items, but it also leads to spoiled food. Organize your foods by group, and keep like items together. You may even want to install additional pantry shelves.

Staying Stocked
You will eventually run out of chocolate chips. That's why stocking up on sale items is so important. For example, during Thanksgiving and Christmas you will find 75 percent of your basic baking supplies and canned produce on sale. The winter holidays are also a perfect time for stocking up on spices and broth. The summer holidays are best for acquiring other basic pantry items, such as chili and condiments.

How to Keep Pantry Items Fresh
A large set of storage containers make pantry storage easier and prevent items from spoiling. Of course, you must also make sure your pantry is located in an area that is cool, dry and dark. This ensures that basic items don't mold or spoil too quickly.

Pantry Items That Store Well
You will also need to throw items out at some point. Here are the expiration dates for some unopened pantry items:

Beans (dried): 1 year
Cake mixes: 15 months
Canned goods: 2+ years
Chocolate: 1 to 2 years
Condiments (most of them): 1+ year(s)
Confectioner's sugar: 18 months
Cornmeal: 1 year
Evaporated milk: 1 year
Flour: 1 year
Pasta: 2 years
Rice: 1 to 2 years
Soup mix: 2 years
Spices (ground): 1 year
Spices (whole): 2 to 4 years
Sugar (brown and white): Indefinitely
Vanilla: 5 years

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