Welcome to my pantry! We have a closet just off the kitchen that serves as our pantry. It isn’t grand, and those folding doors aren’t my first choice. (Plus, those doors have been hungry for children-sized fingers in the past.) The pantry holds our canned items, potatoes, baking goods, etc. I thought it might be interesting to compare it to what the American Heart Association recommends you keep in your pantry. Their pantry and fridge and freezer lists are based on what is good to keep on-hand to prepare heart-healthy and nutritious meals for your family.
I’m not letting you see into my freezers (There are 3 chest freezer in my basement.) My fridge, the one in our kitchen and the one in the basement are also NOT being compared today. If you saw the pounds of cheese…
You can find the AHA’s full list on their website. The part we’ll look at today is their recommendations for your pantry…and mine.
Their list seems pretty basic, and it makes sense to start at the top and work my way through the list while comparing it to my pantry. Some
exemptions concessions allowances excuses need to be shared first though.
- There are children in my household. Items you see in my pantry might “belong” to them or are being held for ransom on a top shelf. (Those pantry doors, despite the frustration, make noise when they slide open.)
- We haven’t grocery shopped in a week. There are some deficits, and we know how that goes.
- Our toaster oven lives on the floor in the pantry. It is the only appliance/kitchen gadget that doesn’t have a place in a cabinet in the kitchen. It is too large for the counter, and we don’t use it daily. When I was just cooking for 2 or in the heat of summer when we don’t want to use the big oven to melt cheese on toast or reheat pizza, it gets more frequent use.
- Also on the floor of our pantry: a huge box of dog treats that are used to refill the green canister for that purpose that is kept on a plant stand; more reusable and paper grocery bags than is probably necessary; and an old stool that holds a basket full of sandwich bags, quart freezer and storage bags, and gallon freezer and storage bags.
Okay, so here you go…
Behold: my pantry!
Let’s start at the top of the AHA list: canned or dried beans, such as kidney, pinto, black, butter and navy; canned or pouched tuna, salmon and chicken; spaghetti sauce.
Grade: A. I have dried black beans, lentils, and pinto beans. I also have some quart jars with cowpeas that I grew. Those hang out next to the canned tomato sauce. I have an assortment of canned beans, and after looking at the photos, I realize that they are stored in different places. I’m not sure that matters, but it might be more efficient if they were all stored on one shelf. That might require some modification when all my “free time” materializes. I also have a good quantity of canned chicken and fish. Sardines and crackers are a favorite lunch to pack while hiking, backpacking, or hunting, so I traditionally have quite a few. I prefer mine in mustard sauce.
Next on the AHA list are canned vegetables. Again, I’m coming out pretty good here, but we are out of canned corn and canned potatoes. We’re almost out of all kinds of potatoes!
Whole grains are next on the list. This includes brown rice, couscous, quinoa, and things like whole grain flour.
Not too shabby. That one shelf holds wheat flour, self rising flour, AP flour, oat flour, cake flour, bread flour, soy flour, cornmeal, grits (The good ones that I buy from North Carolina; the “quick” grits, also called “gross grits” at our house are only used in a few recipes and live next to the oats and cream of wheat.), farrow, bulgar, rice noodles, pasta, couscous, and quinoa. The whole grains are evenly matched with the more processed grains. However, that shelf overall is pretty much the best way to kill a healthy diet! It also contains cocoa, baking chocolate, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, regular sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, Jiffy corn muffin mix, regular pasta, brown sugar, and egg noodles. Do you notice the slight sag on that shelf? Yeah, me too!
Next up for AHA are cooking oils. This looks a bit like the canned vegetables and canned beans in my pantry. There are several different kinds, but they aren’t really together. The big jug of canola oil is on the top shelf. The olive oil and peanut oil live in front of the box of Rotel. The sesame oil lives in the fridge because it is so prone to spoil. Let’s see…I also coconut oil that lives between the many bottles of vinegar and the popcorn kernels.
Nuts and nut butters are right below cooking oils on the AHA list. If you notice, there’s a huge tub of peanut butter on the top shelf and another on the bottom. That is because the 5 year old consumes peanut butter like most people consume water. The one on the bottom shelf is open and can easily be reached. The other is just waiting for her to polish off the one she can reach. Peanut butter in waiting, so to speak!
That’s the only nut butter in our house. Those of us who live here find the texture of others to be unpleasant, so we tend to just buy peanut butter. Nuts are an entirely different story though. And check this out: in addition to loving peanut butter, we call the 5 year old a fruit bat because of her love of all fruit…including dried.
The nuts include peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds (whole and slivered), pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. The pepitas that I use for making a specific cake get stored in the freezer. But the assortment of dried fruit is probably excessive: raisins (red and golden), dates, prunes, cranberries, dried blueberries (regular and wild), and some sweetened dried ginger because it doesn’t go anywhere else.
The last two items are broths and herbs and spices. I have one random can of broth (near the canned coconut milk and chickpeas) that is for emergency broth needs. I find the powdered bouillon or bouillon cubes to be very convenient, and those live with my spices…that don’t live in the pantry.
Spices and most herbs live in a spice cabinet near the middle of the kitchen. That’s where I keep vanilla, poppy seeds, and my big box of cornstarch too. Other spices that are more prone to lose flavor live in the freezer compartment of the fridge.
As far as healthy items, we have most of the items mentioned. The number that aren’t healthy though probably lean me toward a grade of C+.
What would you grade your pantry? Are there simple things you can remove or add that would help it score better?