I like to keep a mix of staple items as well as a few "fun" options that keep things interesting; I don't like feeling like I'm eating the same thing all the time and something as simple as swapping out one starch for another can completely transform a basic meal.
In addition to whole ingredients, I always make sure to keep healthy grab-and-go snacks and desserts on hand. Being able to grab a cereal bar, a pre-portioned serving of nuts or some fruit can sometimes mean that difference between having the energy to come up with a dinner idea or giving up and ordering take-out.
Here's what you'll typically find in my pantry.
With a supply of ingredients like this on hand, and a few items from the refrigerator or freezer, you'll be able to make just about anything! Of course, an disorganized pantry is a disaster waiting to happen: You can't cook if you can't find the ingredients that you need!
I always transfer my bulk grains to clear, airtight containers or jars. This helps them stay fresh, but it also makes it easier for me to see exactly what I have. I bought chalkboard labels from the office supply store to give everything a uniform look and so I can keep track of what's what; no more confusing whole wheat couscous for turbinado sugar! I also like to add cooking directions to each label.
When it comes to actually putting things away, I have a section for starches, a section for canned items and a section for preserves, condiments, etc. Another option is to keep ingredients that go together near each other: peanut butter next to jelly, pasta next to sauce, etc. Find a method that works for you and stick with it!
Disclosure: This post is part of a collaboration between Fiber One and SheKnows.
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