Cupboard staples: these are mine, what are yours?

So last week I had the urge to organize my cupboards. I think part of it was due to the confusing collection of bulk food items in plastic bags piled here and there, and part of it was because my parents gave me some vintage peanut butter jars that I wanted to fill. Remember them? The glass ones shaped like teddy bears of various shapes and sizes. There’s a grandma bear wearing glasses, a baby bear, a plain regular bear and a bigass bear head that seems to be smiling.

For some reason, looking at them just cracks me up.  Anyway, as I filled up the jars it got me to thinking about the way we choose to stock our cupboards. I don’t know about anyone else out there but for me, my pantry is something to be proud of.

Over a period of months or even years, each item is deliberately bought and stacked on the shelf in anticipation of making something delicious with it. And some of these things are a pain in the ass to find, requiring special trips to certain stores and doing a bit of investigating. I’m still in the process of wondering where to find black quinoa. But anyway . . .

Here’s a list all the ingredients I keep on hand and what I use them for. I am curious to see what the rest of you have; maybe we can get some ideas from each other.

Pantry Goods
Used on a regular basis for cooking, I don’t usually buy these with any particular recipe in mind.• White rice
• Brown rice
• Quinoa
• Red lentils
• Green lentils
• Dried beans, chickpeas
• Pasta
• Rice noodles
• Garlic
• Onions (yellow and red)
• Potatoes
• Fresh ginger

Baking Goods
These are mostly reserved for baking, but the occasional dinner recipe will ask for something like flour or salt.

• Flour
• White sugar
• Brown sugar
• Baking powder
• Baking soda
• Salt
• Cornstarch
• Shortening
• Chocolate chips
• Icing sugar
• Yeast

Canned Goods
I don’t keep too many cans in the cupboard. These ones are good for making pasta sauces, soups or flavouring rice. I try to stock up when they go on sale.

• Coconut milk
• Diced tomatoes
• Crushed tomatoes
• Tomato paste

Nuts and Seeds
I mostly use these for stuff like homemade pesto, dips, thickening up a sauce (almond flour), substituting for eggs (flaxseed + water), throwing into a stir-fry, sprinkling on homemade bagels or chopping up to bake into cookies and cupcakes. Nuts can be expensive to buy, so I use them sparingly.

• Chopped walnuts
• Pistachios
• Pine nuts
• Sunflower seeds
• Sesame seeds
• Cashews
• Ground flaxseed
• Sliced almonds
• Almond flour
• Peanut butter
• Tahini

Oils/Vinegars/Liquid Seasonings
Used mostly for stir-frying leafy greens, marinating tofu or adding to dressings and other sauces. They don’t need to be replaced often.• Vegetable broth cubes (or concentrated liquid)
• Olive oil
• Canola oil
• Coconut oil
• Chilli oil
• Peanut oil
• Soy sauce or tamari
• Mirin
• Hot sauce
• Liquid smoke
• Sweet chilli sauce
• Lemon juice
• Lime juice
• Red wine vinegar
• Rice wine vinegar
• Balsamic vinegar
• Apple cider vinegar
• Dijon mustard

Liquid Sweeteners
I don’t actually use the agave nectar or brown rice syrup that often; they are for special recipes. Maple syrup however is a must-have!

• Agave nectar
• Honey
• Molasses
• Maple syrup
• Brown rice syrup

This is an incomplete list of different things I bought for a particular recipe and just don’t use that often, though it is handy to have on hand if I ever again decide to attempt sushi or gluten-free baking for example

• Sticky rice
• Wild rice
• Gluten free flours: tapioca, soy, rice, etc
• Nutritional yeast
• Sea salt
• Apple cider powder
• Popcorn kernels

That’s pretty much it! Kinda makes me want to go cook something . . .

What’s in your cupboard, and why?



  • You have either a big cupboard or are good at putting things away.
    My list isn’t as long as your but the things I always have are:
    Rice, couscous, canned tuna, olive oil, risotto, pasta, flower, baking powder, onions, garlic, kiwi, rice/oatmeal milk, oatmeal/yoghurt, soysauce, mirin, corn, peppers, cucumber, tomato, eggs.
    Can’t think of anything else right now. Probably forgot a couple of things.

    • yeah I’ve got a decent amount of cupboard space, but come to think of it there’s not much room in there for dishes! lol
      What do you normally do with the couscous? I’ve tried it before but it turned out pretty bland, maybe I should have added something besides water.

      • Well, usually I add apricot or apples. Sometimes nuts or feta cheese. And you should add some spices as well, you can add whatever you want!

        But I think it also depends on where you buy the couscous, when it’s from the supermarket the taste is less good than when it’s bought at an oriential store.

  • I know this post is over a year old, but if you still haven’t found black quinoa, it’s available at Bulk Barn. I bought some there the other day in South Keys.

    • okay awesome. It wasn’t at bulk barn last time I went but it’s been a long time since I shopped there, so I guess they started carrying it since then. thanks! 🙂

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