With a new year comes endless possibilities, great expectation and wait...whats that hiding in the back of the refrigerator? The first few weeks of January are the perfect time to clean out the fridge and re-stock your pantry, yes I am sorry to inform you that your spices DO NOT have an endless expiration date. That salad dressing from last March? Toss it. The pasta that you cooked then threw in the back of the fridge to "eat later", its fuzzy and green. During the holidays its so easy to overlook things that you would normally be totally on top of. Admittedly I opened a jar of milk today thinking it would be perfectly fine, smelled it and then realized that the last time I picked up milk was the week BEFORE Christmas. Yuck. Our fridges can become somewhat of a black hole throughout the year and now that we have a fresh start to a new year its a really good idea to clean out, clean up and refresh your fridge and pantry. So what does a well stocked pantry and refrigerator look like? This can be somewhat based on personal preference but I compiled a list of things that I like to keep on hand at any given time.
Cheese: Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar
Mustard: Yellow, Brown, Dijon
Chicken Stock- I like to make mine, but you could also buy the boxed variety.
Sausage & Bacon
Frozen Vegetables (for when fresh isn't available)
Frozen Berries (again, nice to have in the winter months when fresh is hard to come by)
Beans-dried or canned
Vinegar- Apple Cider and Balsamic are my go-to.
Wine: Red and White for cooking
Spices: Herbes de Provence, Cumin, Chili Flakes, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper are my most used and the ones I always have on hand.
Pure Vanilla Extract
Leavening: Baking Powder, Baking Soda
Thickening: Tapioca powder (preferred) or cornstarch
Dried Fruit- Cranberries are my go-to.
Nuts: Almonds and Pecans
Peanut Butter or other nut butters
Cinnamon: Sticks and Powder
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
This is the list I came up with and I am sure I missed some, what would you add to it?
Like I said, these essentials vary from kitchen to kitchen depending on how much you cook/bake. For me, a well stocked pantry and fridge is essential to everyday living, though, stocking all these things can become quite expensive. One thing that I have found to be helpful is buying in bulk (which is available in most health foods stores) they usually have everything on the list and you can buy the amount you need for a better price than buying packaged. When I began buying bulk I was delighted to find things such as cocoa powder and vanilla beans for less than half the cost of buying packaged! So with a new year upon us take an afternoon to clean out your fridge and pantry, toss things that have been sitting too long and then arm yourself with this list and restock! Its the little things like this that make living a balanced lifestyle so much more seamless!