What should you stock in your pantry?

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

If it’s time to get your pantry in order, the first step is to take everything out of your pantry, no matter the size. Once everything is removed, wipe down the shelves and vacuum.

With the contents of your pantry spread out in front of you, weed out the items you no longer want or use. Take a minute to group the items into categories to easily see duplicates, nearly-empty bags and stale ingredients. Also get rid of an season food (Christmas cookies, Halloween candy, Valentine’s Day chocolate) to create more room. Replace dry baking ingredients once a year and check expiration dates on all of your pantry items.

Here are a few essential items you should keep in your pantry according to CookingMatters.org:

- Hold on to whole grains: Fill your pantry with whole grain pasta, brown rice, barely, rolled oats and other favorites. Try to buy in bulk.

- Bet on beans: Canned or dried beans add bulk to soups, salads and pastas. Look for low-sodium or no-salt-added when buying canned.

- Don’t forget fruits and veggies: Canned produce was picked at its peak, so it’s full of great nutrients.

- Feature fish: Canned fish is a great secret for getting more heart-healthy fish into your diet in an affordable way.

- Nosh on nuts: Nuts and dried fruit make great pantry items. Throw into homemade trail mix for an easy snack.

- Think outside the cereal bowl: Stock up on whole grain, low-sugar cereals when you find a good sale.

- Fill with flavor: Vinegars and other condiments, like Dijon mustard, are great for quick, homemade salad dressings. Apple cider, red wine, rice, and balsamic vinegars are all good options.

- Spice things up: Keep the dried herbs and spices you use often on hand. Use to add taste in place of extra salt or fat.

- Basic baking items: Keep basic ingredients like flour, baking soda, and baking powder stored properly in your pantry.