Do you know your essential pantry staples in the kitchen? Six months ago I would have had a vague sense of what those were, but wouldn’t be able to confidently list them out for you. For the past six months though, I’ve been meal planning and paying close attention to my family’s preferences, habits, and our budget and can now say that I know what our pantry staples are.
Meal Planning Series
This is the fourth of a series on meal planning, be sure to check out the other posts too!
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Two, Simple Weekly Menu Plan
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Three, Groceries and Shopping
Meal Planning for Beginners: Step Four, Essential Pantry Staples (you are here!)
How to Know Your Essential Pantry Staples
When we think of pantry staples, the immediate things that come to mind are: eggs, milk, and bread. Those are definitely on my list, but there are many more items I’ve come to recognize as essential for our well stocked kitchen.
Step One: Writing down your meals
I’ve been able to figure out our families’ pantry essentials through weekly meal planning. Our meal planning is very simple because it’s heavily influenced by what the kids prefer and will eat. It’s also very predictable. There are meals that we eat every week and we’re perfectly happy with that at this stage of our lives. The simple act of writing those meals down, instead of fighting the predictability of it, has saved us time and money.The simple act of writing our #meals down has saved us time and money. #mealplanning… Click To Tweet
Step Two: Start a Price List
When we started to seriously budget this year, I started a “price list” of sorts in my Google Drive from the three different stores that I usually shop at. It doesn’t have to be fancy or terribly organized. It just has to be written down outside of your brain.
As I occasionally update the list with receipts in hand, it shows me the items that I buy over and over again on a weekly or monthly basis. I also keep a static grocery list on my phone in the Reminders app which was also a way for me to start my pantry staples list.
Step Three: Know Your Staple Recipes
I have several staple recipes that I use throughout the month that I know will “add” to the popularity of “what’s for dinner.” For example, I might plan a bean soup for dinner one night, which is not the absolute favorite of the children, but is instantly more agreeable to them with homemade drop biscuits. In order to make those, I know I need to have flour, butter, and milk on hand.
When my kids are home, like during Spring Break, I like to do a lot of baking for breakfast when the schedule allows and make sure they have homemade snacks. Flour and oatmeal are top pantry staples in our house for breakfasts and snacks. When we have homemade treats in the house the kids feel well fed, even when we’re at the end of the month and meal planning from the pantry.
If you’re like me and have never really written down your pantry staples before, I encourage you to take some time in the next month and work through these three steps.
- Observe and write down the things you notice, or have known all along, but never written down. Write down those meals that you have every week (for us, they are spaghetti/pasta, tacos, and some kind of soup).
- Next, take the last few grocery receipts or shopping lists and start a list of items you buy all the time.
- While you’re writing these lists, jot down the recipes that the ingredients are for – recipes that you know your family enjoys or things that you enjoy making and having around the house.
I’ll be sharing my pantry staples list in a future blog post. Everyone’s pantry staples will be different because our diets and lifestyles are so varied, but I think you’ll see a lot of common items that many of us will have in our pantries.
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Do you have a written out pantry staples list? Any other tips and tricks to figuring them out? I’d love to know in the comments!
I’ll be sharing this post at these fun link-ups.