A good pantry is made up of ten basic products, seasoned with spices and condiments, which invite us to plan our next lunches and dinners and eat in a healthier and more balanced way.
The Spanish proverb says it: “With a full pantry, dinner will be cooked soon.” And it is that in a good organization is the secret of a good diet, more than enough reason to dedicate all our efforts to have a perfect pantry. Now that we are more kitchens than ever, it is important to optimize what we buy, cook and consume on a daily basis. And the first step to do it is to have an organized and structured pantry, which includes all the necessary ingredients to eat healthy and balanced for weeks. These tips will help you get it.
One of the advantages of having an organized pantry is knowing which products we have and which we don’t. To do this, the first thing we recommend is to make an inventory of everything in the cabinets, fridge and freezer in the house. You will surely discover that you have cans of repeated species, forgotten yogurts in the bottom of the fridge or some frozen taper that you no longer remember when you cooked. Do not be lazy to make this list: we assure you that thanks to it you will be able to optimize much better what you are going to buy from now on, and it can even give you ideas to make new recipes with products that you did not know you had. Take advantage, in addition, to throw away those expired containers and cans or for kitchens those that are about to do so, putting your imagination into practice with recipes for use.
The key ingredients of the pantry
In The Ideal Thought book, Eve O’Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds select ten basic ingredients that every pantry should have. These include a package of rice, a bottle of milk, a package of pasta, a can of chickpeas (according to the authors, the most versatile ingredient there is), a package of flour, a box of eggs, a can of crushed tomato, a chocolate bar, a can of coconut milk and a can of peanut butter. Although this selection is intrinsically linked to the origin of O’Sullivan and Reynolds, and therefore does not have to be applicable to our particular case, it does give us an interesting lesson: to make a list of ten basic products that can be saved in a closet for days. What would be your ten essential ingredients?
After thinking about these ten products, we must continue filling the pantry with other basics that allow us to cook recipes with a lot of flavor. It is not necessary to explain the need to have salt, sugar, vinegar or olive oil at home, nor to point out how versatile garlic and onions are for all kinds of stews. But we can also add to the pantry some international products with a lot of flavor, which increasingly have a more important space in our diet. Among them, soy sauce, tahini paste, turmeric or dried chili peppers. For its part, aromatic herbs and spices are capable of giving a unique flavor to recipes, and even make two dishes that look the same have a very different taste. That is why it is worth stocking the pantry with at least five different spices. Oregano, thyme, cinnamon, paprika or cumin are some of the recommended, although, again, the palates of each house can choose those that best suit their tastes.
An order for every thing
To organize all these products in the pantry, it is recommended to divide the food into groups, according to whether they are cereals, flours, dairy products, etc., so that it is very easy to locate them when we look for them. Those that we use the most should be in the most accessible places, and it is always better to place the products that we eat sporadically at the bottom of the closet or on the shelf (it goes without saying that, how much less is the chocolate in sight, to name an ingredient that always wants to eat, the less temptations we will have to taste it). Also, if we organize the pantry taking into account the expiration date of food, we will avoid wasting products in the future. Once we have everything well ordered, it is time to think about which fresh ingredients are best suited to our needs, whether they are vegetables, meat or fish.
Recommended fresh foods
When thinking about what fresh ingredients we want for the diet, it is interesting to take a look at the guidelines recently published by the Official College of Dietitians-Nutritionists of the Valencian Community (CODiNuCoVa). These specify what foods to include in the shopping basket in case of confinement and explain, for example, that the vegetables and fruits that best withstand the passage of time are carrots, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, red cabbage, oranges and tangerines.
By contrast, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, bananas, pears, or apples would not be as recommended in current circumstances. Another option is to buy canned fruit and frozen vegetables, which maintain the nutritional properties of these foods.
The importance of devising a menu
To choose which fresh products to buy, in addition to taking into account the recommendations of the experts, we also recommend you take paper and pen and write the next recipes that you would like to cook. In this way, you can prepare a detailed plan that allows you to be very clear about what foods you will need in weeks to come. The habit of planning meals in advance, in addition, helps to eat healthier and more balanced, since it forces us to think about the proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables that we will eat every day. What’s more: if we are clear about what we are going to buy, we will avoid falling into temptations of precooked foods or foods with many saturated fats and sugars. And remember that being at home is also an invitation to make cakes and cookies ourselves, which will always be much healthier. Your imagination is the limit!