Posted by: literallydelicious | March 14, 2010


Susan asked last week what kind of stuff I keep on hand. I’m not a fan of shopping (though I love buying in bulk, evidenced by the forty-some rolls of toilet paper in my closet). With my husband, I can get through the local WalMart in an hour with enough goodies for a week or more. Without him, it takes thirty minutes or two hours, depending on my mood. Hey, I get my exercise.

Anyway . . . staples. In my pantry, I always have white, brown and wild rice; just about every kind of pasta known to man, including noodles, threads and sticks for Asian cooking; roasted peanuts and peanut butter; chicken and beef broth granules; Crisco (for frying chicken) and a variety of oils and vinegars: canola, peanut, olive, extra-virgin olive; white vinegar, balsamic, white wine, red wine, rice, cider. I keep a bottle of imported pure vanilla to give my iced tea a kick, and I always have both maple syrup and maple flavoring on hand.

Spice-wise, I couldn’t live with salt (regular and sea salt), pepper (black, white, red and lemon), garlic powder, ginger and paprika. I have a drawer, plus a shelf, full of other spices, but those are my major go-tos. I also have a jar of a wonderful spice mix made by my friend Meg, but it seems unfair to mention it since most of you can’t get it. (Though if she ever decides to market it, I’ll be the first to announce it here!)

Cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup — always handy for a quick meal. If I have fewer than a half dozen cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in my cupboard, I start to hyperventilate. Mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks can be added to anything from stir-fries to grilled veggies to salad, so we’ve always got them. Canned chicken and beef broth, cream and Eagle Brand sweetened cream. And beans: pinto, black, great northern, ranch-style. A can of beans tossed with diced tomatoes, onions, some spices, topped with sour cream and rolled in a tortilla — you can’t get lunch much quicker than that.

On the fresh veggie front, I always buy onions, red potatoes, celery, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes if they’re decent, and cabbage. For mashed potatoes, I buy Yukon Golds, but for roasting, you can’t beat little reds. And this summer, when I get to make my super-duper no-fats-withheld green beans and new red potatoes . . . sheesh, I’m gonna start drooling.

Also in the fridge, we’ve always got flour tortillas, fresh cilantro, mozzarello and extra sharp cheddar. Feta, sour cream, sliced Velveeta (I love it on grilled cheese sandwiches), eggs. (Did you know eggs are generally good up to five weeks past their use-by date?) Nathan’s or Hebrew National hot dogs. Margarine and unsalted butter. Lots of unsalted butter.

And in the door, we never go without horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and lime juice, fish sauce, Miracle Whip, mustard and ketchup. Low-sodium soy sauce, Sriracha hot chili sauce, minced garlic. We buy salad dressings for my husband, but I usually mix up my own Greek vinaigrette or Dijon dressing.

The freezers hold boneless, skinless chicken breasts, peeled and deveined shrimp, pork tenderloins, and various cuts of beef, always including a pound or two of ground beef. In summer, when we grill burgers, I make extras and freeze them individually (since Bob likes them a whole lot more often than I do.) There are also boxes of our favorite egg rolls, cartons of spaghetti sauce, cartons of homemade chicken broth, and packages of Reames noodles. And red and yellow bell peppers! I don’t like the green ones, but whenever I find a good buy on red and yellow, we chop or slice, bag and freeze.

For baking: flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar. Pecans and walnuts. Chocolate chips, both semi-sweet and milk. Caramels. White chocolate baking chips.

And sauces: a whole section of my upper-turntable cabinet holds nothing but sauces. Hoisin, plum, teriyaki (usually Soy Vay). Stir-fry sauce, Thai peanut sauce. Pizza sauce. Head Country barbecue. (The only other brand of Q I ever use is sold occasionally by a church here in town as a fundraiser — Sweet Spirit barbecue. It’s spicy and sweet, and a nice change, but the rest of the time, it’s HC or nothing.)

So . . . with all that stuff in my cabinets, fridge and freezer, I can always find something to cook!



  1. I’m going to have to print this out and take a bank loan so I can go to the store next time.
    Thanks for the help!

    • But just think how much less you’ll be able to buy later because your pantry and cupboards will be full. And it’s really cool to come in from work and to have the stuff onhand to fix a quick dinner.

      Though there are times when I pick a dish that takes 2-3 hours or more to get on the table!

  2. I’m so glad you like the MegSpice!

    • We brought home some boiled red potatoes from dinner the other night, and the next day I ate one cold, sprinkled liberally with MegSpice. It was so good. Then I dipped my finger in the jar and got out a few bites more. Yumm!

  3. If I bought all this stuff, I’d need a bigger house! I’m one of those “plan meals for the week” and shop accordingly. That’s why when I change my mind, I NEVER have what I need. If I’m lucky, I haven’t started the dish before I discover I’m missing something.

    • When we lived in town, and especially when the kid was at home and willing to make grocery store runs in exchange for driving, I was like that. But now that we’re in the country, I try to keep the pantry, cupboards and freezer well stocked to avoid last minute drives into town.

      My other reason for stocking everything is that I canNOT go into WalMart for one or two items and walk out with one or two items. I always buy stuff that’s not on my list, and it’s usually the high-calorie stuff. I worked too hard to get that weight off, so I try to limit my chances to buy the sweets that will put it back on. 😉

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