With the snow still falling in parts of the country as a blizzard sweeps across the Midwest, having a well-stocked pantry is something to think about more seriously. After all, when the weather is frightful, the last thing you want to do is go out into the storm for groceries – or go hungry.
Having a well-stocked pantry is important for other reasons as well. Four years ago, I got very sick. The weather was also awful, and I couldn’t get my sick self through the storms. I had to rely on what I had prepared in the cupboards, and it was pretty grim. Having easy-to-prepare items on hand is important just in case everyone comes down with the flu at the same time (yuck!).
A good pantry is also a back up plan for times that are tough. With a great pantry stocked with dried goods, you can make it through some time without a paycheque, or it won’t hurt quite as much. Stocking up during the good times makes the tougher times just a little bit easier.
What should you have in your pantry?
1. Prepared foods. These aren’t necessarily for everyday meals, but items like soups and canned pastas are very helpful when you’re not feeling well.
2. Dried beans. Yes, these might not be fancy, but they’re an excellent base in chili, soups, and other recipes.
3. A source of protein. Canned or dried meats are good in the pantry. If you don’t want to rely on meat, store lots of complementary proteins like rice and beans.
4. Oatmeal. This fills you up beautifully, it’s warm during winter storms, and if necessary, you could even eat it for a few meals in a day. Oatmeal is a great comfort food, and it’s easy to store.
5. Dried pasta. This is for the easy emergency dinner (or lunch, or perhaps even breakfast).
6. Milk or substitute milks. I like the tetra packs of almond milk and coconut milk. Almond milk also happens to have lot of protein. You can turn this into custard, use it with cereal, or use it for baking.
7. Baking essentials. Yes, these are a few items, but really, if you have flour, baking powder, and something to stick them together, you can bake! I also like to store dried egg, egg replacer, flax, xantham gum or guar gum to make sure I can bake things that hold together.
8. Oil. Some sort of oil will allow you to fry and bake things with ease. Olive oil and other vegetable oils store easily.
9. Berries. If you consider your freezer to be part of your pantry like I do, you’ll want to stock up on fruits and veggies when they’re in season. There’s nothing like having a lovely fruit smoothie in the middle of winter, when you know that the berries in it would be outrageously expensive.
10. Sprouting seeds. I have recently gotten into sprouting and microgreens, and I’m loving it! What a great way to store winter greens: in seeds in a cool, dry place. By storing sprouting mixes, you know that you can always grow your own salad, and one little package of mix goes a very long way.