09 October 2014

What Does Your Pantry Say About You?

I snapped this photo this morning and forgot to take my recipes off the wall!
I come from a long line of food stockpilers. There isn't a woman in the family who doesn't have a fully stocked pantry. My mother has the reputation of being able to feed a small army at a moment's notice and I've been told my pantry could outdo Woolworths!

So what does your pantry say about you? If I were to take a peek, would I see canisters of flours, sugars, dried fruits and other baking needs? Would I find lots of different herbs and spices, just waiting to be added to cakes or casseroles? Are there canisters of beans, lentils, couscous and popcorn? Would I be able to tell the type of cook you are - a from scratch cook or a convenience cook - by your pantry?

Over the years the contents of our pantry has changed considerably. BC (before Cheapskates) if you'd opened the pantry door you would have seen four shelves, packed full of packets, tins and jars of food.

On the bottom shelf you would have found tins of braised steak and onions, tins of soup and perhaps tinned fruit. There would have been jars of pasta sauce and Chicken Tonight or Kantong sauces. You may have found the odd can of baked beans or spaghetti too. You'd see a Tupperware bread container full of packets of pasta and sauce or instant noodles, casserole bases, packet soups and instant gravy.

The second shelf held cereals and spreads. Lots of them. Weetbix, three or four different types of muesli, Nutrigrain, Coco pops and Fruity Bix. Next to the stash of cereals the jams were lined up: apricot, raspberry, strawberry, orange marmalade and ginger marmalade. Then came peanut butter (smooth and crunchy), Vegemite, Nutella, cheese spread and a couple of different Pecks pastes. Note the brand names - in those days I did not buy generic cereals or spreads and absolutely none of them were homemade.

Third shelf was what I called my baking shelf. A packet of self-raising flour, one of plain. A canister of white sugar and another for icing sugar. Then a packet of custard powder and Gravox. Lined up down the wall were the cake mixes - chocolate, buttercake, patty cakes, cheese cake and muffins. I did a lot of home baking - it just mostly came from a packet.

Fourth and top shelf was used for storage - it didn't hold any grocery items at all, just a load of empty containers.

Today when I look at the pantry I am still in awe at just how much it has changed. Gone are most of the packets and tins. These days the tins are baked beans, tomatoes, pineapple, peaches, pears and apricots. The jars are mustards -Djon, wholegrain and hot English.

You'd be hard pressed to find a packet cake or muffin mix in there. In fact I know you won't. Instead you'll see canisters of different flours (self-raising, plain, wholemeal, spelt, gluten, cornflour, pasta flour), polenta and sugars (white, castor, brown, raw and icing sugar). A canister of cocoa and one of desiccated coconut sit behind the big flour bins. There will be packets of noodles and pasta of various kinds.

Stacked in canisters are chickpeas, kidney beans, red and green lentils, Italian soup mix, regular soup mix and popcorn.

There are canisters of sultanas, Craisins, mixed dried fruit, glace cherries and ginger. Small jars of herbs and spices and a 750ml bottle of homemade vanilla extract. There is a big canister of rolled oats and two more with milk powder, skim and full cream. I almost forgot the white vinegar, a large 5 litre container. It's good for salad dressings and cleaning and did you know you can use a dilute white vinegar and water wash to clean vegetables?

There's a box of wheat biscuits, a canister of bran and one of ricies. Next to them are containers of MOO KFC Mix and one holding the cereal crumbs for the next batch of Shake'n'Bake. Then you'll see a jar of Vegemite, a jar of honey and a jar of MOO peanut butter. Lined up next to the spreads are a bottle of brown vinegar, a bottle of white vinegar, MOO sauces (tomato and barbecue), a small bottle of MOO kecap manis and a small bottle of soy sauce.

On the floor of my pantry is a box for potatoes and onions. I keep the potatoes in a hessian sack; it helps to keep them in the dark, dry and still lets the air circulate around them. There's another one for sweet potato too. You might see a couple of pumpkins waiting to be cut up. Next to that box is a 4 litre tin of olive oil and a couple of bottles of EVOO. Then there are the bulk bins for rolled oats, flours and rice.

If a Spendthrift were to look into this pantry they'd probably say there was nothing to eat. For the Cheapskate it is a mini-supermarket, chock full of all ingredients to make hundreds of meals.

So what does your pantry say about you?

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  1. I am lucky to have a big pantry and I try to keep it fully stocked. At the moment I have boxes on the floor with oranges and grapefruit from our trees, I squeeze these every morning for breakfast :) For cereal, I keep organic weet-bix, rolled oats, and a box of light and tasty for hubby to use for work. I have three lots of plastic drawers under the bottom shelf and I keep excess goods in them. My next job will be to transfer dry goods into jars, decorate them and place on my shelves.There is a lot less processed food in my pantry these days.

    When I do a shop nowadays it takes me very little time because I just stock up what is low, grab some fresh fruit and vegetables then out of the supermarket. Previously when I would go shopping I went aisle by aisle grabbing useless stuff but now the health food section is the aisle I frequent in woolies, and try to avoid the rest :)

    1. Tania don't you just love the way cooking from scratch saves so much time, especially shopping? I zip around Aldi in about 20 minutes once a month; it takes longer to get through the checkout than it does to do the groceries. What do you use the orange and grapefruit skins for? I'm thinking candied peel or dried and choc dipped or zested to use in cooking (all things I do with citrus peels).

    2. Yes Cath cooking from scratch does save heaps of money. It sounds like your checkouts are the same as ours, on one occasion I waited twenty minutes to be served ...

      With my peels, I put most in the compost bin, soak some in vinegar for a lovely smelling cleaner, and occasionally I soak some peels for 24 hours in water and use as a fabric softener in the wash water. I grate lemon peels for zest and pop in the freezer, but I guess I could just dry them. I like the idea of candied peel, must try that. I did see somewhere on the internet that the halves can be turned upside down in the garden to attract slugs. They climb up underneath them, making for easy disposal. I don't have slugs here so cant try it out to see if it works. Apparently they make great fire starters too!

      Have a great weekend Cath :)

  2. My husband calls our pantry Aldi. It is a large walk in one, my whole kitchen equipment could fit in there. I like to stock up for emergencies and shop monthly so it is always full of staples ready to be made into some creation. It also contains homemade preserves and our own dried and fresh produce. I am a passionate cook who also loves to grow fruit and vegetables.

    1. My father always called Mum's pantry "the supermarket" :). In all honesty the photo is only of the kitchen pantry. It has the day-to-day groceries. I have shelving and a double door cupboard in the laundry that hold the bulk of the groceries. They hold all our bottled and dehydrated preserves and the bulk goods. I love my veggie garden too Kathleen and love being able to eat freshly picked produce all year round.


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