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12 January 2009

essential elements of a pantry

our pantry, at the moment

This is the cleanest part of our kitchen, at the moment.

We've been cooking, nearly non-stop, for months. Dish after dish, most of them great, some of them needing work — they spilled from our kitchen like the rain-swollen rivers around Seattle this past week. There has not been a day's rest for the oven or the burners on the stove that needs cleaning. Everything needs cleaning.

After the book is done. Two more weeks, and then we can begin the other projects of our lives. Like scrubbing every inch of the kitchen and stocking our pantry again.

I'm sharing this because I want you to know this before I begin this post: tonight I'm going to write about what works for our lives. We all have such different food needs, different schedules, and mostly (it seems to me) different ideas of what meals and ingredients and budgets for food should be. I don't want to tell you how to live, how to cook. Our book doesn't do that either.

But I like to share what works for us.

I write all this cautiously because last week I read this piece by Mark Bittman, on how to stock a pantry sensibly, without spending fistfuls of money, but still make real food. I liked reading the article, even though we already do most of what he suggests. It gave me ideas. It let me see our kitchen new. I didn't agree with everything he wrote — I like good canned garbanzo beans sometimes; we buy the tomato paste in the can; dried mushrooms seem overpriced to me — but I didn't expect to agree with everything he wrote. His piece, it seemed to me, was an attempt at a reminder. He wants us to eat better. Here are some suggestions as to how.

Wow. I had no idea that piece would stir up such vituperation. Don't believe me? Go read the comments. About 1/3 of the readers call Bittman elitist, snobby, a food writer who doesn't live in the real world, stupid, and a fascist. Who knew?

Reading the nasty comments was strangely comforting for me. I receive hate mail all the time from people who insist I'm an elitist snob for advocating cooking from scratch. I don't understand it. Why are we snobs if we want to cook the way our grandmothers did?

I don't want to explore that tonight. That's a much more entangled discussion than I feel capable of conducting. I'm tired. I've been on the computer all day, writing and editing and re-writing.

But I did want to know, from you, what are the essential ingredients in your kitchen? You know, the ones you are always buying? The ones that, if they are in the refrigerator or pantry, you will have a good dinner even if there is no time to go to the store.

Here are ours, in the moment. (Don't quote me. A week from now this list will be changed.)

onions (and garlic). Humble and lovely, and always necessary. I can only think of a few recipes in our book, or really most cookbooks, that do not start by suggesting that you peel and chop an onion. I'm lumping them together, because they are best friends (to quote Jamie Oliver). One without the other doesn't make much sense. Add shallots and make it a threesome.

potatoes. Honestly, I can only think of a few days of the years we have been together that we have not eaten potatoes. The Chef doesn't know how to live without them. Even if the pantry were empty, we could have roasted potatoes.

olive oil. I don't mean the expensive brands that are good for drizzling on risotto at the end. I mean good old workaday olive oil. We use it for almost everything.

lentils and beans. Look at that photograph again (and if you click on it, you can read the notes posted on it). There are a plethora of beans from Rancho Gordo and lentils. I couldn't live without them. And yes, we do cook dried beans from scratch most of the time. Really, it just doesn't take that much time. Most of it happens when we are away from the stove.

good vinegars. It's not like we own 20 different kinds of vinegars, but I wouldn't mind. Around here, we always have champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. The rest is just fun.

stock. There has been a large stockpot gently simmering (never boiling) on the back of our stove nearly every day of these past few months. But, when we are done with the book, I think we'll go back to making stock once a week. I used to think that making stock was for chefs and food writers, not for me. I was wrong.

walnuts and sunflower seeds. I love all nuts — peanuts don't do much for me, and we're keeping them out of the kitchen until we know Little Bean is not allergic — but these are the two always in the kitchen. Give me a handful of walnuts and I'm fine for a few hours. And if I top anything we eat with sunflower seeds, the Chef loves that dish.

mustard. Good Dijon mustard, in particular, one with a bite and sharp flavors. The Chef stirs it into sauces or dollops it onto the plate before he lays down the roasted lamb. It's rarely spread on sandwiches around here. There are so many other uses.

good spices. I'm with Bittman. We buy our spices whole, when we can, and grind only what we need. It's not as expensive as you think to buy new spices. When we went to World Spice at the beginning of this book-creating process, and re-established the pantry, it cost us $22. We still haven't run out. Around here, we especially like smoked paprika, Pimenton d'Espelette, Saigon cinnamon, Madras curry powder, and wasabi powder.

our gluten-free flour combination. You can see, in the photo above, lots of little jars and tubs with flours flinging themselves against the sides. We keep many around to make sure the recipes we are testing work out. But just off to the side is a giant tub we bought at a restaurant supply store for $7, and it's filled with a combination of sorghum, potato starch, tapioca flour, and sweet rice flour. When we bake, for ourselves, we just scoop it out by the cup.

By the way, I assumed that salt and pepper were standard. I probably shouldn't assume. We have at least four different kinds of salts and two peppers in the house at all times.

What nearly made the cut: avocadoes; fresh lemons; rice of all kinds; whatever fruit is in season; popcorn; quinoa and millet; dark chocolate; muscovado sugar; good canned tomatoes; tamari sauce; dried pasta for emergencies (we make our own when we plan); all the other oils (walnut, canola, and grapeseed in particular).

And in the refrigerator (a separate list): bacon; butter; milk; cream; sour cream; greens; cheese (small wedge of good Parmesan and cheddar at all times, plus whatever is in rotation this week); eggs; good yogurt.

What about you? Link to a photograph of your kitchen, if you wish. I know we can all learn from each other. And I'd love to hear.

There will be plenty of time to comment, since I'm leaving the site for a couple of weeks. The book will be sent to the publishers on January 26th, and I'll be hunched in front of the computer until then. With plenty of time to stop and hug the Chef and Little Bean, of course.


At 1:10 AM, Blogger ~M said...

I'll play. :)

- quinoa
- brown rice
- tinkyada brown rice pasta

- lemons and especially limes
- Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes
- Amore tomato paste (tube)
- orange juice, and usually sweetened and unsweetened cranberry juices
- garlic and onions
- winter squash from fall until spring, and we often have sweet potatoes

- canned red salmon
- Genova tuna in olive oil
- organic eggs

- several different gf flours, including coconut flour (great for pancakes and baked goods), almond meal (blanched and unblanched), superfine brown rice flour, arrowroot starch, buckwheat, and Pamela's blend for super-quick concoctions

- raw almonds, roasted unsalted almonds, sliced almonds, slivered almonds
- plain cashews (makes milk too!)
- other nuts and seeds, in rotation, like pecans, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds (the spiced ones from Eden rock)
- dried cranberries (husband's favorite) and dried cherries
- lightly salted tortilla chips for my husband
- Sunview green raisins
- garbanzo beans (canned and dried), black beans (usually canned - our fast food), & red lentils
- coconut milk, regular and lite (but more regular!)
- at least one non-dairy milk; my current favorite is hemp; my husband's is soy
- Dagoba cocoa (cacao) powder

- olive oil, grapeseed oil, & coconut oil
- sesame oil
- blackstrap molasses
- some salsa
- balsamic vinegar and raw apple cider vinegar
- Imagine non-chicken broth or Vegetable stock (not broth), and usually a frozen mason jar of my mother's kosher chicken stock

that's all i can think of for now, at 3:10am :)

At 1:51 AM, Blogger Guy Reynolds said...

The main thing we have is Rice which has become so expensive of late. In 10kg or 20kg bags we have: Broken Thai (Fragrant) Rice, (American) Long Grain, Basmati Rice. These normally last us 2-4 months at a time. Whilst we would prefer whole Thai Rice it is just too expensive so we make do with broken grain which is about half the price.

In smaller packs we have: Pudding Rice, Sticky (Glutenous) Rice (regular and black), Ground Rice and Arborio Rice. There are also odd packets of brown and wild rice which really should be thrown away since we have had them too long.

For days when we fancy rice pudding but just can't be bothered to cook it or we don't have sufficient milk to hand we have a few emergency tins of ready made rice pudding.

At 2:05 AM, Blogger Marisa said...

Oils! Walnut, peanut, sesame, good olive, plain olive, soy-vegetable, canola, flax seed. All of them lend a particular note to any dish.

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Robin said...

My staples include:
Olive oil (I'm in Spain; how could it not top the list?)
Garbanzo beans
A wedge of parmesan cheese (keeps forever, and I find myself grating it onto everything)
Lemons (now that I think about it, these first four ingredients alone make my favorite quick lunch)
Quick grains/pasta: quinoa, couscous, bulgar
Parsley (the vegetable lady at the market always gives me a big bunch for free; standing in a glass of water it last for more days than I expect and I put a bit in or on everything)
High-quality canned or jarred tuna (I try not to eat it too often, but it's a fantastic panty staple because it can be mixed into cold and hot dishes)
Canned or jarred red peppers (again, a Spanish staple)
Bread crumbs (I grate all the stale ends of our bread)
Potatoes, Garlic, Onions

At 2:26 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

My pantry essentials are almost identical to yours!

A huge jug of everyday olive oil.
Onions and Shallots
My Gluten Free Flour mix...from the Bette Hagman books (potato starch, rice flour, tapioca flour...I think)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
A good Balsamic Vinegar
Red and White Wine for cooking. (The white wine I actually freeze in ice cubes so it's always good and ready when I need it.)
Peanut Butter (not so much for general cooking, but for my fave cookie recipe for when that sweet tooth strikes)

My I-can't-live-without refrigerator essentials:
rice milk
cheese (a minimum of cheddar, fresh parmesan, and at least one other like goat cheese or pecorino...)
fresh herbs (technically they all come from my garden, but still)

Those are the things I buy constantly. I kind of freak out if I go to cook something and one of my most basic ingredients turns up missing. Even when there's nothing else, I have rice and potatoes that can be cooked a hundred different ways. Gotta love the versatility!

At 2:50 AM, Blogger Hannah said...

Jar of chicken bouillon, with three kids I don't always get to the chicken bones! Apple cider vinegar and olive oil, with some honey and lemon it's my favorite salad dressing. Good salt. Raw nori sheets, the kids eat them plain and I fill them up with all sorts of goodies. Canned tomatoes of every variety. Coconut oil. Almond meal. Jars of marinated artichoke hearts, so good with fish or to snack on. Eggs...lost without them. I love when my fridge and pantry are clean and organized, it;s like cleaning out my head at the same time!

At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A a gluten free cook, my essentials are lots of gluten free grains:

Almonds for gringing to bake cakes
Potato flour
Doves gluten free flour
Brown rice flour
Corn flour
Basmati rice
Arborrio Risotto rice
Carmargue rice
Jasmine rice
Fresh lemons
Home dried bay leaves
Isle of wight garlic
Marigold GF veg stock
Fresh ginger

Starting to realise that everything in my storecupboard is essential!

At 5:07 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


As I read your post today & the article you listed about essential ingredients as well as the nasty "snob / elitest" comments, my mind shouted out responses that have compelled me to, for the first time, post on your blog.

You are an inspiration to those of us who have been diagnosed with Celiac. You are an inspiration to those who appreciate good foods that spring with flavor. You bring food to life reminding us that even those 'mundane' items have rich flavors if we only slow down to taste them.

The trouble becomes, for me at least, making my priorities fit. Having not come from a family of bakers / cooks, learning to cook is a task. It may not be a challenging one but is certainly one that requires attention & time. As a mother / stepmother to three children (ages 8 - 13), a fulltime grad student & working two part time jobs, taking on another learning task is an enormous challenge. I have bookmarked so many of your posts for "later" that I may as well read your entire blog again when "later" arrives.

My personal belief is those who call you a snob or elitist are in a similiar life as I am. They are envious are you ability & knowledge that allows you to whip something up; they know that same dish would take them hours.

Back to your question, my pantry is stocked poorly. =) Having only been diagnosed for a year & spending half of that time lamenting the horrors of it, I didn't really jump in as I should. My pantry has stewed tomatoes, soy nuts, a few gf flours, some gf crackers & always gf pasta.

When "later" hits, I plan to make my pantry a much better space.

Thanks for being there & giving me hope that life can be as beautiful & rich in a glorious simplicity.

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elitist? Hmmm..that has never crossed my mind as I've read (studied) your book and blog. I've always just considered you "down home." Your picture of the the shelves just goes to prove that! What an encouragement to me to arrange my life (and the things in my life) in a way that suits me and makes me comfortable. I like the idea of a big tub for storing the mix. Does this mean that the flours don't need to be stored in the freezer or frig? Looking forward to your book!

At 5:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might enjoy looking through Other People's Pantries, which has been running on my site for more than a year, to see how many pantry items we all have in common, and how "essential" pantry can also be so different in different parts of the world.

At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are several things I cannot go without when it comes to pantry items: Onions; garlic; a jar of minced ginger; good quality balsamic vinegar; champagne, red wine, and rice wine vinegars; dark chocolate; turbinado sugar; dried shitake mushrooms; Pacific Foods chicken broth in some form or other; rice; olive, sesame, and canola oils; and cans of lentils and white beans. For spices, an Italian blend on hand, poultry seasoning, kosher salt, and sea salt. In the fridge there is always a bottle of San-J tamari and some form of fish sauce as well as goat cheese, mozarella, and butter.

I gave up reading the comments on both the NY Times and the WaPo a year or so ago. Who wants to read that kind of insane vitriol on a beautiful day.

At 6:21 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

I am not savvy enough to post a photo of my pantry but if I did, I just might win the contest for most elite. I echo the message in your post as well as Bittman's article. For almost 10 years now I have enjoyed a schedule and a life that allows me to grocery shop every day, although I don't carry a wicker basket. I must have been a farmer's wife in my last life. I just love starting from the very beginning, making my own pastes, grinding my own grains, snipping fresh herbs. It is like a little contest to me, seeing how much I can make on my own and reducing the amount of packaged food we buy. My partner and I don't have children, I don't work during the week, which gives me all the time in the world to start from scratch. Yes, it might take me all day to make the soup with homemade tomato paste, dried beans and real broth but that is simply how I like to spend my time. I does feel decedent and I am grateful to have the time . I love canning in the fall, tomatoes, beans, peaches, chutney, dried beans, roasted peppers, the list goes on. I understand most people don't have this kind of time and it isn't how many people want to spend their time, but calling someone snobby or elitists because of what they enjoy ? ? ? One of my most favorite books is Cooking by Hand, by Paul Bertolli. Bertolli says "Good cooking is trouble, good cooking is painstaking - that is with all things made by hand, cooking well involves some form of trouble. The trouble with cooking begins when you decide to take it seriously. This raises the question, what does seriously good cooking mean I must do? As long as I have been cooking in earnest, this question has lead me down trails full of circles and switchbacks, sometimes taking me directly into the brambles." I love the trouble, I love the painstaking measures and I love the circles and switchbacks. I imagine, your new book might be a more contemporary, gluten free version of Bertolli's Cooking by Hand! Those of us who love your post, love you for your trouble! Don't let the mean spirited get inside your head!

At 6:30 AM, Blogger H.Peter said...

Hate mail is tough.
In Austria we have a saying: "Viel Feind, viel Ehr", which loosely translated means if you are very honorable, you will be disliked by many.

Funny how I just wrote about quantity versus quality and how it will take a generation's time to change our current wasteful thinking when it comes to food intake and consumer patterns.

Cooking is joy, cooking is family.

At 6:32 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I've found you really can't win with your ingredients when you cook online. If you make everything from scratch, you're an elitist food snob. If you cook with any packaged foods, well that's just disgusting.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

I can agree with everything on your list. We use all of those things on a regular basis at our house. One thing that we can't live without (that almost made your list) is brown rice. We eat brown rice several times a week, because it's something healthy that a preschooler can dig.

Congratulations on your book! I can't wait to pick up a copy.

At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'd have to say my list is pretty much the same as yours minus the gluten free flours. we have sprouted breads in our freezer instead. have you read the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon?

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You darling girl! Sending happy thoughts your way as you finish this project. I'm going to read the Bittman piece and think on that a bit. Thank you for reminding us to be intentional in all we do.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger cara harjes said...

i always seem to have:
pine nuts, almonds, coconut milk, almond milk, black beans (canned), garlic/onions, chicken & beef stock (i use the paste, but after making one of your roasted chickens, i am in love with real stock now).

happy tuesday!

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Melie said...

Thank you for this, Shauna. I have never cooked much in my life and was overwhelmed this past fall with my Celiac diagnosis. In the past month or two, your blog and, believe it or not, Bittman's have been my daily dose of hope and encouragement. This posting of yours really helped me put Bittman's pantry post in perspective for me. Best of luck on finishing the book! -Melie

At 7:11 AM, Blogger steph said...

Well, that sounds like my pantry, to a T.
Good to know I'm doing something right.
And seriously, how does making good food from scratch make one an elitist snob? Oh well. I'll take my elitist, snobby, homemade lentil soup over a can of the best storebought soup any day of the week. Yum.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Meagan said...

I love it when food bloggers post what they have in their pantry! Maybe I should do the same? It has always been a favorite thing of mine to take a look in someone's refrigerator when I am over at their house. It's so interesting to see what people buy and the reasons behind it!

Also, every once in a while you'll find a treasure that will find itself soon in your own fridge. ;)

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the negative comments about cooking from scratch must come from those people who would have no idea where to start and have never lived in a home that did it. No frame of reference. I love your blog. Havent been lurking long we've only been gluten free for about a month or so but that is how I found you. I do have a question. I'm having the hardest time finding sorghum and sweet rice flours. Any suggestions?
Thanks for all you do,

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep pretty much the same things, but add almonds and pistachios and subtract the GF flours.

I can not believe that people send you hate mail. I think you guys are wonderful!

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I always keep a few kinds of rice (generally brown basmati or jasmine, and a risotto rice), pearled barley, a big can of San Marzano tomatoes, onions, garlic, a bit of chocolate (you never know when cookies will become an immediate need), and some beans. Dried mushrooms find their way in if I see a good deal, because they do immediately add so much flavor.
I can turn these ingredients in so many directions; they can be made new every day. In the fridge we ALWAYS have eggs-I'm an egg fiend, always a bit of good cheese and some broccoli and scallions.
Of course, those are the essentials...there's a lot more in there, especially the pantry!

At 8:07 AM, Blogger caroline said...

I love these lists and I agree with you on most items. But no eggs? They are cheap, they make quick meals, they last a long time, and they are a low-calorie source of protein if you only use the whites. Plus you need them for most baking. I go through several dozen a week.

I disagree with you on the potatoes-- they are starchy and not very nutrient-rich. I only cook with them maybe once or twice a year.

Other items I find essential: plain fat-free yogurt, frozen fish fillets, fresh ginger, fresh cilantro, tofu, limes, green onions, canned crushed tomatoes (especially in the winter).

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your choices. I like to keep some homemade curry paste in the freezer, but other than that we are on remarkably similar pages! I too am the hugest homemade stock proponent. And I'm with you on the dried beans. Not that hard, just requires a little advance planning, and oh so much cheaper than the cans.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger brookeraymond said...

I love this question as I love to keep a good pantry. For me here are the staples:

Onions and garlic - a must for most dishes.
Rice, dried pasta, oatmeal, flour, sugar, etc.
Rancho Gordo beans - I never knew how much I liked beans until I ate some of theirs. They are genius.
Canned tomatoes - I used my own canned ones until I run out, but then I have no hesitation of using good quality store bought canned tomatoes. A must for me.
Good Spices
Olive Oil - daily use and special
Vinegars - I probably have at least five different ones on hand at any time.
Milk, eggs, sour cream, cream, butter, fruit and vegetables of the season, tortillas.

I'm sure I am missing some, but that is a decent list of what I keep in my house at all times.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, everything at home was made from scratch and was (almost) produce/raised on the farm: the other kids at school called it "poor".
I know now how rich i am to be able to consider basic ingredients into comforting, healty food for my family; passing that knowledge to my children throughout tye years is also most valuable.
And mostly these days, when you want/need to know what you eat : cook!

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of my pantry essentials include:

Brown rice pasta
Marinara Sauce (in a jar)
lemons, oranges, bananas, apples avocados,strawberries (when in season), Dark Chocolate is a must!
sunflower, seeds, cashews, granola bars, brown rice, peanut butter, gluten free ginger snaps,freshly ground pepper, olive oil, kosher salt, sugar, vanilla, various spices. Herbs in my backyard that I use all the time: rosemary, thyme, basil.

In the refrigerator:
spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, almond milk, soy milk, eggs, butter, turkey and salmon.

This year I am completely re-vamping my pantry to gluten free - so I can make alot of wonderful recipes from this site as well as from ones that I have collected.

Good Luck with the book, looking forward to reading it!

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just moved abroad and started my pantry from zero. these are the things that found their way in immediately:

basmati rice (quick!)
tinned tomatoes (and passata di pomodoro, don't know what it's called in english)
dry red lentils
a can of garbanzo beans

olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, lemon juice, black pepper, sugar.

Add fresh veggies to make omelettes, tomato lentil soup, rice with garbanzo-tomato sauce...

And I am a busy student who cooks every day :)

At 8:49 AM, Blogger elizabeth said...

to make almost anything i find i need: parmesan, butter, lemons, homemade broth (all kinds, we stock jars in the freezer), mounds of onions and garlic, pine nuts, all kinds of vinegar, fresh spices, and since we are constantly running out, black pepper. i also love to have capers and olives, fresh herbs, and extra wine for braising.

can't wait for the new book. i hope the next few weeks go well for you, little bean, and the chef.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Lora said...

In my refrigerator: cream, milk, lemonade (never without it), salad greens (we are HUGE salad eaters), bell peppers, English cucumbers, Greek Gods yogurt (you must try this brand), cottage cheese, and some sort of specialty cheese (I'm on a quest to try every cheese known to man). In the pantry: Bush's seasoned black beans (funny thing - I don't like beans much at all but I ADORE these), crushed tomatos, CalRose rice, pasta, olive oil, garlic (what does it say about me that I buy it in 3 pound bags?), quinoa, nuts of all kinds, almond meal, all different kinds of flour (I have a baking problem), dried fruits. Oh, and shelf stable organic chocolate milk in single serve boxes - this one is a lifesaver when your kid is in school and can't be trusted to go get a carton of milk for himself at lunch. He can't ever say he forgot his milk!

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG stock!!!!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Pearl said...

i love this entry. you know what may seem odd? your writing comforts me. like i almost imagine your voice and feel as if i can just snuggle up with a cup of tea and listen to you talk and talk with you.

you know, when you first said "essential elements," i thought of just some things that i always use: eggs, milk. but then i realized:

1) i always use onion and put it in almost everything;
2) same with garlic.
3) eggs are needed
4) so is milk
5) extra virgin olive oil
6) canned beans
7) rice vinegar; balsamic vinegar; red wine vinegar
8) rice
9) kosher salt
10) freshly ground black pepper
11) white pepper
12) ground turkey
13) apples
13.5) a plethora of fruits
14) all types of vegetables
15) dijon mustard
16) vegetarian oyster sauce
17) soy sauce

wow. i never knew i needed so much after thinking about it (it seems like a lot to me) :)

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Anita (Married... with dinner) said...

I, too, am mystified by people who think scratch cooking is elitist and snobby. I could go off on a rant, but I'll save it for when you post again on that subject. (j/k!)

Here's my must-stock list, the things that I feel like my pantry isn't whole without...

- chicken stock

- tomatoes: whole, diced, tomato sauce, tomato paste

- rice: long grain, jasmine, arborio, basmati

- other grains: polenta, cornmeal, oatmeal

- beans: garbanzos, pinto, cranberry, white, pink, black

- pasta: linguine, spaghetti, rigatoni, macaroni, some sort of shape like rotini or orecchiete, wide egg noodles

- onions, garlic, shallots, ginger

- potatoes (I know, but they're a staple for me!)

- crackers, tortilla chips

- white tuna

- dried mushrooms

- chiles: canned chipotles en adobo, jarred pimentos, salsa verde, plus many kinds of dried (ancho, pasilla, guajillo, chipotle, etc)

- coconut milk and Thai curry pastes in a tub

- preserved lemons

- assorted oils - especially peanut, olive, sesame

- assorted vinegars - especially sherry, red wine, white wine, rice wine, balsamic

- small bottles of tonic water, splits of champagne, hard cider

- herbs and spices, too numerous to count

- salts: fleur de sel, kosher, flake

- nuts: peanuts, smokehouse almonds, slivered almonds, pine nuts

- an embarrassing assortment of Asian condiments and sauces

- in the garden: rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemons

- and in the fridge: milk, cream, eggs, butter, sour cream, salsa, tortillas, celery, carrots, parsley, cilantro, peanut butter, pickles, Parmesan, cheddar

...and that's not including the sweeteners and other baking-centric stuff!

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feta cheese - it can be tossed anywhere and it will last for weeks, even months.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Rebecca Mongrain said...

I loved Mark Bittman's article last week. LOVED It! I decided to take a look at my pantry which is so small since I live in a small condo. I decided that maybe tomato paste in a tube was a good spacesaver and that having lovely grains around would be great. I love cooking from scratch and I don't care if it is elitest. I eat so well and so happily that I'll take that title because eating and cooking from scratch make me happy. Now of course I work at Sur La Table so I'm surrounded by people who think like I do so I don't see myself as strange. I see myself as having such a great opportunity.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love reading your posts while I'm eating lunch. :] Which, by the way, called on a couple of my kitchen staples: broccoli (especially this time of year), sunflowers seeds, and pomegranate seeds (which are available only too fleetingly. I fear I am eating the last one of the season right now). I also rely on garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, whatever greens are in season, and lemons.

Shauna I hope someday when you have the time you'll write a bit about olive oil. There's such mystique surrounding it, and even if you pay a lot you sometimes don't get what the label says you're getting. What makes a good, reliable, working-horse olive oil and how do you know when you've found one?

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, dried mushrooms are very cheap at Asian markets.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I could go for weeks with a bag of good basmati rice and a couple of pounds of bitter dark chocolate.

Hmm, that sounds kind of good - chocolate rice. Might have to try that, some kind of rice pudding that is chocolate flavored. That would be the ultimate comfort food for me. I might get bored, but I wouldn't go hungry with those two items.

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments will be as long as a comet's tail streaming into the milky way...

I have so many kitchen staples that you can live off the dry goods (and canned and preserved) for a winter if need be. And that is almost times two- since I must fill both city and cabin kitchens... but food and home and hearth are our love, our joy, and we don't take vacations or have TV's that get reception.

What would be a great question could be: If you were banished to a desert island (or a dessert island if you prefer) what ten ingredients would you take? (obviously portion size could be huge)

I'll ponder that idea while I cook polenta. (guess that would be one item?)

Happy writing and resupplying...

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really enjoyed this post and the comments.
in my pantry (living in a manhattan studio, my dishwasher serves as my 'main' pantry, i wash the dishes by hand) i ALWAYS have:
olive oil(s), kosher and sea salt, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, vegetable bouillon cubes, vinegar, canned beans, chocolate (many kinds, i am swiss), raw sugar, flour, oatmeal, cranberry juice, coconut milk, couscous or quinoa.
ALWAYS in my fridge: organic eggs, cheese, butter, milk, mustard, capers.
usually on hand: fresh fruit and veggies (mostly seasonal and from the farmer's market), nuts, fresh ginger, red wine, cereal, popcorn, sorbet.

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, so cooking from scratch makes one an elitist or snob. Man, I can't wait to tell that one to my grandmother!
In my pantry I try to have dried beans, brown rice, tomatoes, gf pasta, a whole range of gf flours, coconut milk, gf crackers, all kinds of nuts (love em) and we always have on hand ingredients for the best quickie "from scratch" meal: huevos rancheros! Eggs, beans, cheese, salsa and avacadoes for guac on the side. Eggs are a staple in my fridge, there is not a more perfect food in my snobby opinion!
Looking forward to the book!

At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this! At our home, you can always find:
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Chili Flakes
Truffle Salt
Sea Salt
Powdered and Fresh Garlic
Cumin, Coriander, Allspice, Curry, Cinnamon and Ginger
Salad Supreme Salad Seasoning
Parmigiano Reggiano
Cracked Wheat (bulgur)
Assorted seeds (sesame, pumpkin, flax)
Dried and canned garbanzo beans
Beloved oatmeal
Flour (we don't eat GF but i love your wesbite so)
Dried Mushrooms
The list could go on and on :-)
But I'll stop here. It's fun to read everyone else's entries1

At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of yours too.
I would love to get your opinions on what are the good workhorse olive oils.
My favorite ingredients that nop one has mentioned is umeboshi. I like to have umeboshi plums, paste and vinegar on hand. It is salty and sour and draws all the flavors together in a dish.

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Sarcastic Celiac said...

Mean people are just jealous!

I know I am, too, almost every time I read a post. I'm green that you have the time, opportunity, and ingredients that are available to you. It's hard to find quality food here (as opposed to the tasteless, painted-red-tomato grocery store variety food where I live). But I'm not going to begrudge you for that! I'll just get really really hungry every time I read.

Celiac (and thus coming across your blog) has caused me to take a hard look at what I eat. I'm grateful for that reality check.

My pantry and fridge have certainly changed... but my current staples are:
-Hot Italian turkey sausage
-dried cranberries
-NOT onions (blasphemy, I know)
-frozen fruit
-Smartfood white cheddar popcorn

Won't pass for gourmet or "elitist" :) but works for me

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

-brown rice
-olive oil
-sea salt
-canned cannellini beans

These are the basic essentials for me that, if I got snowed in, I would be able to live well on for a few days.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Erika said...

Has anyone commented here about cost? Just yesterday a friend who makes twice as much money as me smirked and rolled his eyes when I said I shopped at Whole Foods, saying "well I can't afford to shop there." The implication of course is that I am a food snob.

Tonight I came home with about $12 of produce: head of cauliflower, green beans, onions, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, ginger, spinach. With this my husband made a huge pot of vegetable curry (plus some dahl with red lentils we already had) that will get us through dinners for the rest of the week.

Cooking from scratch is so much cheaper than many people assume. We buy bulk when we can, which saves even more. I make my own breakfast cereal and that saves money as boxed cereals become more and more expensive.

I suppose one could still say it's elitist to spend so much time and energy on shopping for food and cooking (or to expect others to do the same). Personally I think it's about priorities and choices. It's important to me, so I do it.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on finishing the book!!! I can't wait to read it! I love World Spice - their smoked paprika is out of this world. I like the tomato paste in a tube, and anchovy paste in a tube too, because I always forget the orphan can left in the fridge if I don't use it all at once. champagne vinegar is my new favourite, but rice vinegar I can't live without. What kind of olive oil do you like for every day? I love the Frantoia for salads and drizzling, but won't cook with it because it's too nice.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Hilary said...

This is pretty much my weekly shopping list:

Various gf mixes, potatoes, onion, garlic, tomato, cheese and yogurt (now that I'm not lactose intollerant anymore, I can indulge).

Soy milk, extra firm tofu, mixed baby greens or baby spinach, nuts, my homemade strawberry freezer jam, beans and corn pasta.

I almost forgot the most important thing... coffee! I gave it up for a few years, but I'm off the wagon

At 10:29 PM, Blogger Beth said...

Ooo, I'd love to link to a kitchen picture. We just put in these shelves, because my jars full of dry goods were beginning to spill out of the cabinet, and threatening to drop onto an unsuspecting head.

At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Working and having a husband who is in law school full time and a toddler, our pantry is stocked for fast, healthy meals--
-canned beans in abundance,
-sunbutter (for our toddler)
-GF pasta
-Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes
-Bette Hagmen GF flour mix
-other GF flours
-turkey sausage
-other sausages
-frozen vegetables
-raisins and other dried fruit
-lots of spices
-good vanilla
-GF oatmeal
-coconut and almonds (to whip up granola or some sort of cookies)
-rice chex
-one type of meat once a week, such as a pork shoulder or brisket or chicken, which usually cooked in the crock pot, provides leftovers for other meals during the week.

Thanks for the fun post!

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this thread! I love its openness to the variety of experience and knowledge of those who are interested in good food. I think that's where Bittman got into trouble: epithets like "elitest" come into play when people who work with food for a living assume that their choices will work seamlessly for people with other competing preoccupations. It's not "elitest" to cook from scratch, but it is elitest to scorn the short-cuts and compromises that others make in the kitchen.

At 9:42 AM, Blogger Thea Coughlin said...

Hi Shauna-

your book came up on the first page when I did a search for subject "guilty pleasures" in teh library. I was looking for more books in a vampire book series-the first book is called "guilty pleasures".

I am so excited to have found it in the library, and decided to pick it for my book club book, this month. Just sent out the info and suggested we each make and bring one of your recipes to the meeting here at my house.

I am a photographer in Albany NY and love your blog, recipes, writing and photography.

Hope you are feeling good and that your pregnancy is going well.

Congrats on all the great stuff!


At 9:44 AM, Blogger Daphne said...

What fun! Here's our must-have list:

- baking essentials (flours, white and brown sugars, leaveners, regular salt, vanilla, etc.)
- quinoa
- barley
- onions and garlic
- at least one kind of rice
- oatmeal (regular rolled)
- chocolate chips
- canned tomatoes
- canned beans (a few varieties)
- popcorn
- dark chocolate in some form
- dried coconut
- coconut milk
- 1 to 2 cans tomato sauce (for emergencies)
- 1 to 2 pkgs pasta of some sort
- 3-4 kinds vinegar esp. rice vinegar
- regular olive oil
- a dizzying number of herbs and spices

- 1% milk
- butter
- parmesan
- eggs
- mustards and ketchup
- soy sauce and ponzu sauce
- sesame oil
- olives (usually)
- pickles
- rotating stocks of fruits and vegetables

I wish I could keep celery and lettuces fresh longer, they tend to wilt before I even know what to do with them. Oh well.

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What combination of flours work well for you when making GF pasta? Could you post a "tutorial" on making GF pasta? Thanks, Kathy

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Diana Lee said...

I'm so pleased to see you weigh in on this topic. I adore your food style (for lack of a better term) and tend to find that you lead me in all the right directions.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

My list is close to yours as far as onions, potatoes, beans etc.

I always have 3-4 different kinds of rice (Brown, jasmine, white and aborio) I've just discovered the wonders of brown jasmine rice.

Some canned beans for throwing things together last minute

A few boxes of stock; we don't have the luxury of an extra freezer and our regular freezer is packed full. I bought half a pig this year and we're still working on it

Pasta in a handful of different varieties

Oil (Extra virgin, high temp olive oil, sesame and a few others)


Peanut butter, Macadamia butter, sun flower butter (if you haven't had it it's awesome and a great sub for peanut butter for LB)

Good canned or cartoned tomatoes

Baking supplies (sugar, good chocolate, flours etc)

Enjoy Life cookies and trail mixes

Dried spices from fall. Anything that I grew that I knew I wouldn't use before we frosted I picked, wrapped in tule fabric and dried in the fridge. I packed it in small bell jars.

Tuna fish, sardines and anchovies

A jar or two of Newmans Organic Pasta Sauce (for emergencies)

In the fridge: Milk, eggs, half and half, unsalted butter, pickles (3 different kinds), cream cheese, pepper sweeties (for tapas), a jar of rendered pork fat (wouldn't the chef be proud?)

Freezer: A lot of pork :) Salmon (I have a friend that goes to alaska to fish, he keeps me stocked up), frozen berries from summer u-pick, frozen bananas, nuts, and lamb

I grew up in a house with a pantry. My Dad did as well. We were always stocked up so that if something did happen we could feed ourselves. When I first moved in with my boyfriend I brought the pantry first and he was amazed at the amount of food that I had. He'd been using his pantry for computer parts and his fridge was nearly empty. He's learned well, when we run out of a pantry staple he puts it on the grocery list.

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I had to add this; I think the reason why Bittman got so many negative comments is because people have been using the ingredients he marked as out their whole lives. They're comfortable with packaged bread crumbs, cheese in a can, and canned vegetables. Sometimes it's hard to step outside of the boundaries you've locked yourself into. I don't think that he's being an elitist he just cooking the way he chooses to.

There is a huge following to cook that way. It's these prepackaged ingredients that are slowing us down. I'm guilty of using canned beans and the occasional jar of Newman's Own Pasta Sauce but I wouldn't tell Mr. Bittman he's an elitist for telling me to throw it out. Those are my "oh crap the store is closed and I don't want to make anything else" foods. I think we all have something like that lurking in our cupboards.

It's when people cook like that all the time is when trouble stirs. I applaud you for advocating for food. I've been trying to get back to the way that my grandparents cooked for the past few years. It may take longer but the end result is well worth it.

At 2:31 PM, Blogger *stepho* said...

I love to cook, though throwing weeknight meals together quickly can be tough because I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend is not. Though there are a few staples I always have on hand:

jar of marinara (I love Newman's Own if I have to use a jar)
dried pasta
rice (white and short grain brown)
extra virgin olive oil (a cheapy one for cooking and a fancier one for salad dressings, etc.) balsamic and champagne vinegars dijon mustard
chunk white tuna
a few varieties of hot sauce

butter eggs
whole wheat bread
baby carrots
a variety of cheeses (we love sharp cheddar, gouda, smoked mozzarella, brie, and jack)

And we always have a bottle or two of on the counter and/or white in the fridge.

Thanks for this post! This was fun :)

At 3:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I blogged about this several months ago:

And since then, the only thing that has changed is oats. We don't eat them anymore due to gluten issues!

Additional staples:
-lentils (all kinds)
-millet grain
-tapioca pearls
-buckwheat groats

garlic and onions
seasonal veggies (whatever's in season)
Muir Glen diced tomatoes & paste

-homemade kombucha
-coconut juice
-Santa Cruz organic lemon juice
- goat milk kefir

-grassfed beef liver,heart, bones, and all other edible parts!

-raw honey
-seaweed (nori, arame, wakame)

-coconut flour (I don't really do much with any other type of GF flour!!!)

-sunflower seeds for sprouting and making crackers
-coconut milk
-olive oil
-coconut oil
-arrowroot starch

That's about all! Thanks for sharing and good luck finishing up your book; I can't wait to read it!

P.S. I'm in Portland, "just down the street!" :)

At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! My pantry looks similar to yours.

Cannot live without:
Muir Glen tomatoes, all varities
rice pasta
taters, just got a huge bag at Costco for pennies
olive oil
sugar, baby I like to bake!
all sorts of gluten-free flour
marcona almonds
nuts of all kinds
dark chocolate
sweet potatoes
all kinds of rice

ummmmm...I know there's more, but this is a good start. Now, I'm hungry!

At 4:50 PM, Blogger kate said...

There are only a few things on my list that aren't on yours.

I almost always try to make sure that we have canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, and usually, tomato puree as well. I can make a quick chili or sloppy joe, marinara sauce, a fast tomato soup, and any number of other things.

And we almost always have dried fruit of some kind, too, which is great for putting over hot cereal (or cold cereal for that matter), or in baked goods, or just as a quick snack.

And, because I'm lazy as hell, I always keep some canned beans around for times when I want something bean-ish but haven't planned for it.

Lately, more and more, our freezer is getting the biggest workout, since we are cooking larger batches of things to plan for leftovers to make the most of the diminished income we have. So really, when I think of "pantry stocked items" I think about my freezer, too. Frozen berries are great this time of year, when summer seems so far away (we always buy extra at the farmers market when they are in season to save for later), especially for tossing in the blender with some soy milk and a little honey- my favorite dessert these days! And also some heartier vegetables that are just fine after thawing and are also not in season around here, like brussels sprouts. Leftover beef stew, corn soup, tortillas, stock, leftover sauteed veggies for an eventual soup, chicken for eventual chicken salad, pushing-almost-past-ripe bananas for sorbet- almost nothing goes to waste anymore and the freezer is just so great for preserving some things that I can't ignore it as part of my "pantry".

Oh, and because I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world, I cannot forget to mention that Haribo Gold gummy bears are very much a staple in our house. Mmmm. Gummy bears!

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh I wanna play!
My essentials include:
siracha sauce
tuna in olive oil
canned san marzanos
black beans
good, fresh spices
cous cous
vinegar (all-sorts)
sea salts
dark chocolate
olive oil
dried fruits (all sorts)
did I mention the nutella?

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Gemma said...

I would love to take a photo but my cupboards are in an embarrassing state so I'll have to pass...

My essentials are olive oil, onions, garlic, parmesan, lemons, basmati rice, good quality dried pasta, couscous, cumin, coriander, dried mint (one of the few good dried herbs), canned chickpeas, and canned tomatoes.

There are more things that always live in my cupboards such as baking powder, flour, vanilla extract, cinnamon, a couple of different cheeses, sherry and balsamic vinegar, lots of other spices, good vegetable stock powder but the first list are the necessary ones.

At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a kind of double-pantry. I use my freezer as a pantry as well as our typical dry-goods pantry to store scratch staples.

Our staples stay pretty simple.

- Meats (bought fresh and stored in freezer).

- Stock (homemade)

- Spices. Especially chili powder, cumin, cayenne, curry, gram masala, oregano, italian herbs, cinnamon, smoked paprika. ginger, coriander, thai.

- Onions and Garlic (could not survive without these!)

- Nuts and Seeds. Pecans, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds,Chia seeds.

- Limes

- Raw apple cider vinegar

- Butter, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil.

- Canned tomatoes

- Hot chilis (jalapeno, hot thai chili, new mexico chili, guajillo chili, pasillo chili)

- Mustard

- Beans (pinto and other varieties)

- Dried coconut

- Cocoa powder

- Coconut milk

- Fresh veggies

- Duck eggs

- Veggies, lettuce, cilantro, parsley

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Elizabeth A. said...

This site is such a beautiful one, I'm really and truly surprised that you get more than occasional "hate" mail. I'd think even people who disagree with your whole approach to cooking (from scratch, using fresh ingredients, etc.) would find your mission compelling. I don't cook much myself anymore (I'm eating mostly raw food) but I keep reading your blog because I so appreciate the aesthetic dimension of your life and work - you bring the same care to choosing words as you do to choosing ingredients.

That said, it's funny how two people can read the same 253 comments (on Bitmann's article) and come away with a completely different impression. I'd venture that less than 10% of the comments (no where near a third) were remotely snide or snarky. And I didn't find too many outright "nasty" comments among those who took issue with Bitman (claiming he wasn't living in the real world, etc.). Most (a huge majority) of the comments on Bitman's piece were positive. It seems the biggest issue people had was with the canned beans. I personally have no problem with canned beans, but unlike you, I didn't grow up on the SAD, so it's not a whole part of my past from which I'm separating myself. I think for many food writers who grew up in the 50s, 60s, 70s, it's like the discovery of fresh food is this huge deal. Choosing it - over the stuff they were given as children - is an act of psychological individuation. It defines them and they don't want to be the person who eats canned beans.

For me, when it comes to beans, canned or fresh, no big deal. My food choices don't define me in that way, probably because the way I eat today is not a radical departure from the way I ate as a child. My mom, even back in the 60s, was the turnip buying and peeling sort, and so am I.

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Elizabeth A. said...

Oh! I forgot! What's in my pantry --

Big bag fresh lemons (I buy 10 to 15 a week)
Mangos and bananas (in varied states of ripening)
Frozen blueberries
Frozen goji berries
Hemp protein powder
Ground flax seeds
Big bag apples
10 pounds of carrots a week
6 to 8 bunches of parsley and cilantro (I juice a bunch a day)
4 to 8 heads of celery
Bunches of kale
Pre-washed and packaged spinach, arugula, baby greens (I buy these from November through May when farmer's market closed - convenient, because I'm much busier in winter. I have no problem with someone else washing my greens.)
In summer and fall, a good 10 to 20 cucumbers
Yellow peppers
Garlic and one or two red onions.
At least 8 to 10 avocados
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (best I can afford)
Aged balsamic
Sweet potatoes
Butter (in freezer)
Raw almonds and brazil nuts (in freezer)
Raw almond butter
Raw tahini
Raw coconut butter
Raw cacao powder and nibs
Rapunzel organic dark chocolate bars (usually with hazelnuts)
HUGE supply of tea
Cases of Mountain Valley Spring Water
Organic dark roast coffee (lingering vice)
Case of red wine (always a red Bordeaux)
Case of white wine (usually a white Bordeaux or Alsatian white)
Stuff I don't eat but always keep in pantry:
Ezekiel or other sprouted bread
Sprouted pasta
Brown and white rice

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! Stocking a good pantry gets complicated and expensive, so I try to keep mine simple and use only a core set of ingredients. You can make a great variety with just a few core pantry staples, like one kind of oil and then buy it in bulk. For more see

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm cooking for myself (GF/vegetarian), my husband (who would like nothing better than a big, red steak for dinner and won't eat anything "weird") and my 5-year old (who would really rather have a peanut-butter and jam sandwich), so I aim for wholesome rather than fancy or gourmet meals. I do cook a lot from scratch, but for me, there's not much left to eat unless I cook it myself. I kinda would rather buy pre-packaged GF food, but it's ridiculously expensive and usually doesn't taste very good.

We most always have potatoes, tomatoes, fresh and frozen veggies, rice, quinoa, fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts, dried and canned beans, eggs, cheese, milk, rice crackers, pasta, nachos, taco shells and GF flours (I use 2/3 brown rice flour and 1/3 soy flour for my all-purpose flour mix - the flour selection is pretty limited in my small town).

There's also usually store-bought rice bread and wheat bread and frozen fries in the freezer for the occasional grilled cheese night ;)


At 9:54 AM, Blogger Sandy Hackett said...

Shauna, have you ever posted a recipe for the GF mix of flours that you keep on your shelf? I would love to know what combination it is, b/c the fiddly combining of flours keeps me from baking very often. Thanks!

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Ok, here we go:

Always have -
* Rice - long-grain white, brown, arborio & jasmine
* Red and green lentils (dried) and chickpeas (dried)
*Several packets of Italian brand gf dried pastas
* Several gf flours, including a premix all-purpose, rice flour, buckwheat flour, besam flour and almond meal
*Sugars - icing, castor, raw, light & dark brown
*Vinegars - Apple cider, red wine, white wine & balsamic
*Sauces & condiments - Tamari soy, oyster sauce, sweet chilli sauce, coconut milk (several cans), Worcestershire sauce (gf), excellent store-bought green & red curry pastes, home-made chicken and vegetable stocks (stored in freezer)
*Spreads - Honey, jam, peanut butter, vegemite (for the kids - it's not gf)
*Canned goods - Canned tomatoes, baked beans, canned red kidney beans
*Cereals - Gf muesli, weetabix (for the kids), rice porridge, brown rice puffs
*Snacks - Rice crackers and rice cakes (plain & flavoured - gf), potato chips (OK, I know ... what can I say)
*Vegetables - Potatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, pumpkin, mushrooms (from my mushroom box) and chillies. In the fridge there is almost always broccoli, green beans, avocado, and spinach.
*Bread - A regular multigrain for the kids, gf multigrain for me (I just buy it, cannot be stuffed making it).
*Eggs - In the fridge, often, and obtained from my mother-in-law's fat, happy and lazy free-range chooks who have the run of her enormous yard. Very tasty eggs.

In season, as appropriate, this list is also joined by fresh tomatoes, peas, seasonal fruits, and so on. There is usually some kind of meat or fish in the fridge or freezer, but not inevitably.

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to cook for 7 on a gluten free, casien free, soy free, one child can't have apples or bannanas diet! When I find something that fits the list I buy tons! Rice, potatoes, fresh veggies, and of course my spices to make it all palatable (I hope) Thanks for the great blog and tips! My daughter wants to be a chef and was so excited after watching your Food TV snippet that she could still become a chef as a Celiac!

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Shauna
Maybe those angry people who called Bittman a facist are suffering from aggressive, nervous disorders caused by all the chemicals in the processed foods they're ingesting. I say 3 cheers to everyone fighting the 'good, simple, pure food' fight.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Ya Chun said...

The triumvirate: garlic, onions and peppers.


GF flour mix

Walnuts and raisins for breakfast

The rest is in rotation...

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Garlic, of course!
That makes anything taste better for me!

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, White & Brown Rice, Red Beans, White Beans (we're in the south), canned veggies from the garden(tomatoes, jalapenos, green beans, corn), lemons & limes, pasta of all shapes, grits, corn meal, balsamic vinegar, Tony's, basil & oregano (garden), tobasco (red & green), Hellman's (yeah the jar stuff!), Zatarains mustard, Steens syrup, cayanne pepper.

Frige & Freezer: Gulf shrimp, Atchafalaya River catfish, lump crabmeat, andouille, ham bones, milk (gallons per week!), Smothered figs, orange juice, apple juice, eggs, bacon, butter,
shrimp stock and chicken stock.

And, much as I hate to admit it - I do have the container of bacon grease on the back of the stove top.

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Ellemay said...

I don't remember the last time I bought rice.

When I moved out of my parents house a year ago, mum took it as a chance to clean out the pantry. So I got loaded up with about 3 types of rice. My favourites are brown and a blend of basmanti and wild.

The staples that I can't live without are much the same as yours, except mine come in wheat and gf varieties. For some reason the gluten free animal shaped pasta never lasts long.......

I have a large amount of tinned things in my pantry such as beans, corn, tomatoes, etc. This is because I'm a shift worker who often can't get to the market when their open.

If the definition of a food elitist is someone who has tastebuds and enjoys cooking from scratch. Then, it seems, Shauna, that you are one. So am I! Be proud of who you are and what you enjoy.

If Trekies can do it, so can we!

At 7:59 PM, Blogger Angie said...

I'll add carrots, zucchini, all kinds of fresh chiles (I live in Mexico), limes (again Mexico is #1 consumer, we even put lime juice on limes) and I'm sorry to say I always have frozen vegetables for emergencies. Please note that emergencies are late night visitors, and when short on money. Mexico's economy is not at it's best right now. Much of the stuff you mention is not available here. Wish I could get them.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post and it's fun to read what others have in their kitchen.

Espresso Beans
Ultragrain Flour
Almonds, walnuts, pecans,
Pinenuts (in fridge)
dried cranberries
Baking chocolate
Canned Tomatoes of all kinds
Back up organic broth
Panko crumbs
Raw agave nectar
brown rice

On my workspace at all times:
Sea Salts of various kinds
Pepper Grinder
Red Pepper
Oil Spritzer
Really good and great balsamic vinegars
Chardonnay VInegar
Extra Virgin olive oil
fresh nutmeg
Close at hand:
garlic, onions, potatoes, tomatoes

In Fridge:
Eggs and more eggs
apples and pears all the time
Italian Sodas
almond milk
non-fat organic milk for cappucino
Walnut oil (in fridge)
Favorite assortment of cheese and always pecorino
Parsley, Thyme
Chile Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce

Freezer: Frozen Peas
and my personal favorite treat: Vanilla Ice cream

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

I love your blog. Thank you for your book. I loved that as well. I just started with gluten-free blogging, and I would love to know what you think. Thanks a bunch.

At 11:32 PM, Blogger Gluten Free said...

Wow - I'm starving now! Thanks. Great blog post.

At 1:07 AM, Blogger Mmy said...

My mother (figuratively) beat it into my head how to cook since I was wee; like mopping one's floor often enough, it seems like something busy people might neglect, but more's the pity for them... but I agree with the above commenter: I know several of my adult friends who have no clue where to start.

GF blogs, and domestic blogs in general, have been a saving grace for me, particularly in learning what I ought to be stocking/realizing I can still bake. And learning little tricks,too: I love canned beans; soaking beans is too much of an undertaking in my tiny kitchen. I may "cheat" with dried onions for a similar reason.

I need to work myself to mixing my own GF baking mix -- so far I've just discovered pre-bagged mixes and have adored them.

I'm a big fan of corn tortillas lately, I must say, for quick dinners.

At 5:26 AM, Blogger The wandster said...

I don't think there is anything snobby about cooking from scratch. It's so much more healthy, but in our busy lives, we need conveniences that make it easier, like buying stock instead of making it!

Staples we can not live without:

-olive oil
-salt & pepper

You can do a lot with these simple ingredients. There is a riot in our house if we run out of these.

A few more:

-chicken broth
-diced tomatoes
-Tinkyada rice pasta
-tapioca flour
-cannellini beans

At 5:30 AM, Blogger NaeLynn said...

Rice-- brown, wild, not white

Potatoes-- Idaho, red0skinned, maybe organic

Soy milk--3/5 of my family is allergic to dairy

Ghee Butter--for the aforementioned reason

Garlic--preferably fresh, but powdered as well

Venison in the freezer--but sometimes chicken

Vegetables--whether frozen or fresh, we always have something

Good Olive oil

GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix & Pancake mix--we don't make those from scratch

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Jenn Sutherland said...

Shauna, thank you for this post! I read Bittman's article earlier in the week, and I immediately wished to peek inside your cupboard!

My pantry is so much like everyone else's here, who cook whole foods. But my winter pantry definitely has some differences from the bounty of the summer markets. This time of year my pantry is well stocked with:

GF steel cut oats
Dried fruits (to cook with oats)
Brown rice
Rancho Gordo Beans
Winter Squashes
Homeade canned tomatoes & sauce
Sweet potatoes
olive oil

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Kristin and Owen said...

In my pantry:
-Muir canned tomatoes (fire- roasted, diced, whole)
-canned & Dried beans-black and garbanzo.
-Various shapes and sizes of pasta- buckwheat and tinkyada pasta for me, regular pasta for my son and husband
-All kinds of rices
-tortilla chips and taco shells (for quick dinners)
-Oils: olive, sesame, grapeseed, canola
-Sea salt & pepper
-a plethora of spices my favorite also being smoked paprika
-various mixtures of GF flours as well as some that are not mixed.
-Imagine broths
-Nature's Path Corn Flakes and Mesa Flakes to use as a replacement for bread crumbs
-GF cereal/snack bars because I'm a cyclist and I need to have portable food.
-nuts & seeds
-nut butters
-raisins, cranberries, currants
-agave, honey, brown rice syrup, date sugar
-herbal teas
-Lundberg Farms rice cakes
-artichoke hearts

In the freezer/fridge:
-lemons & limes
-lemon & lime juice in case I don't have fresh
-sheep & goat cheese for me, Parmesan, cheddar & mozzarella for my husband
-dijon mustard
-vegan mayo
-rice milk
-frozen organic corn and sweet peas
-lots of fresh frozen fish, shellfish and chicken in the deep freezer
-tortillas: rice, corn and regular
-a few loaves of bread, some GF, some not
-maple syrup usually from our farm back home in NY.

I think that's what I try to keep on hand at all times....

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree! Most of what is in your pantry, is in mine except one:


Just kidding :-)

I am no doubt a bona fide food elitista, I have arugula growing outside my back door. I live in Hawaii and took a huge salad of it for a potluck on New Year’s Eve. (If you employ an elite-o-meter, the reading should now be very high.) We eat it all the time.

I wanted to say something cute from the slug’s perspective, about when they decide to munch on a plant in my garden that they simply don’t care about how elite a vegetable could be considered to be before partaking of it, but I realized that, lacking eyes, they really have no perspective whatsoever. I do appreciate their genuinely non-judgemental attitude about how I choose to prepare foods in my kitchen, and our shared sensibility about what is simply fresh and tastes good. We have a lot in common.

We prefer the term, “high falutin’ ” anyway.

Everyone here appreciates arugula and lettuce from the garden, regularly. The garden has become a sort of vegetable drawer extension. We will be adding basil soon, I go through a lot of fresh basil. The garden grows slowly, as I can get to it.

I truly love your wonderful sharing, and I love getting ideas for my shopping list from everyone’s comments.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You sooo much for this post, It has been such a transition for us to begin our GF journey (due to my son's allergies), and your list has just helped me more than you know!!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Katie said...

Hi Shauna- I have been reading all your baking recipes and am very excited to try the bread from my family. Although for myself I have found that rice makes me sick. Is there another flour you would subsitute in for the rice flour? Thanks, Katie

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Caroline, who says that potatoes are not rich in nutrients..
Oh my dear, you are very misinformed! Yes, potatoes are starchy, but they are also high in potassium and Vitamin C, and provide moderate amounts of iron and B vitamins. All that and low in fat... eat up!!

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Cliff Girl said...

I feel validated! The pantry is one of my favorite things about my house--and alternately--my nemesis. Recently some teens were over and needed chips from the pantry. What they saw shocked them (and I know because they told me). Flour, flour, flour, starch, starch, grain--things they'd never seen before!
I second the coconut milk, rice of all kinds, and would like to add moth catching tents to the list.

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standard stock: potatoes - usually Yukon gold and/or red. Sweet potatoes.
Yellow onions. A live bay (leaf)shrub.
Large organic carrots. Celery. Green & red peppers. Lemons. Apples, oranges, bananas.
Rolled oats, pin oats, walnuts, almonds, pecans. Coffee beans & teas. Instant coffee.
Organic peanut butter, jams, tahini.
Whole cheese - Parmesan, Muenster, Mozzarella.
Cans of tomato sauce & pastes. Kosher salt.
Whole black pepper in a grinder. Spice basics of cinnamon (2 types), nutmeg, mace, cardamom, ground cloves, anise, fennel seeds, cumin seeds & ground, coriander, paprika, minced garlic (dry), thyme, dill, red pepper, chili powder, assorted curry powders, allspice, mustard seed, mustard powder, oregano, basil, marjoram. Probably a few more odds and ends.

There is always frozen corn, peas, green beans, and mixed vegetables.

Milk, cream, butter (salted & unsalted), eggs, plain yogurt.

Sesame oil, olive oil, cider vinegar.
Corn syrup, molasses, real maple syrup, artificial vanilla, real dark brown sugar, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cream of tartar.
Not a gluten free household, so still have unbleached bread flour, all-purpose flour, rye flour, graham flour.
Corn meal, rice, lots of assorted canned beans (garbanzo, black, red...)

We are an older adult household, no kids, two large Labs. I am the only cook. I have a routine cooking week of roasting two whole chickens, dissecting the meat for sandwiches & quick meals, making stock from the bones. In winter I make additional stock from beef bones as the subzero temps make quick work of chilling the stock and skimming the thick layer of fat. The stock turns into a fresh vegetable filled soup for the week.

Nearly everything we eat is from scratch, save for some breads and crackers. I have learned to freeze the breads, biscuits made that day as they are almost like fresh when nuked. I make many of the dumplings and noodles for soups, tomato sauces and loose sausages.

I even make our dogs a special "gravy" every week to supplement their diets. I simmer a turkey thigh or two on the back burner (minus the skins), add carrots and celery and sometimes greens and garlic. When pureed with a hand mixer, it looks like light brown gravy. I give them a cup of this a day with their regular premium dog food and it is the highlight of their day. It has been over six months since I first started feeding them this supplement, and they have shinier coats & more energy. The point of this digression is that the gravy is made using parts of the celery & carrots we trim. The tips and bits of vegetables (nothing brown or slimy, though).

I cannot imagine ever returning to a life where dinner was from the drive thru or delivered or from several opened cans. It has become harder for us to eat processed - prepared foods as we can taste the excess sugar/salt and flavors that remain as yet unidentified, but cling to the palate long after the meal was forgotten.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger Shonah said...

-rice pasta
-beans- black, kidney, pinto, garbanzo
-kosher salt
-wheat flour alternatives
-sweet potatos
-olive oil
-lots of fruit
-rice milk/almond milk
-diced tomatoes
-tortilla chips
-corn tortillas

Its funny to me how judgmental people can be when they encounter someone doing something different then they are. I have cooked from scratch for a while and sure there are some recipes that can be costly to make but for the most part I think I spend less money on food then if I was to buy everything pre made and processed. Not to mention I feel healthier.

Good luck with the book, I look forward to seeing it in the bookstore!

At 8:48 PM, Blogger A. said...

New reader :)

Evoo. I'd drink it if I could.
Romaine lettuce.
Green olives.
Spaghetti squash.
Concentrated pomegranate juice.
Popsicles (my vice.)

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

This is soooo great! Loved reading this!

At 1:42 PM, Blogger val said...

even with all the comments i just had to add my favs.

olive oil
rice rice and rice
sweet potatoes
peanut butter

as long as i have the above...i'm all good

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Erin Swing said...

Shauna - What a fun thread! Sometimes I'm w/ Bittman, sometimes I'm not. I am The Sensitive Epicure foodie - No Gluten, NO milk, No cheese:( Here's what I have in my pantry, influenced by recent trip to Singapore & Thailand (took a cooking class there):

dried wide rice noodles
Le Veneziane corn pasta
all kinds of short & medium grain rice
red quinoa
brown sugar, sugar cubes
olive oil, sesame oil
chicken broth
rice milk
instant mashed potatoes (my panko!)
fish sauce
shrimp paste
chili sauce
limes & lemons
kaffir lime leaves
garlic & shallots
ginger & galangal
shrimp snacks (crack chips!)
frozen shrimp
fish balls
eggs (includ quail eggs)
GF Flours: tapioca, potato, buckwheat, cornstarch
baby bok choy (dk leafy green)
carrots & celery
tons of herbs & spices, salts & peppers
apples & tangerines
pine nuts
canned beans :P

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Erin Swing said...

. . . oh yeah, and WINE. Lots of wine. We're equal opportunity wine enthusiasts in our house; as long as it's good!

At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A photo of my kitchen would probably send everyone rollling. We just moved into an old house (1912) last redecorated in the 60s, and I don't think they've ever redone the kitchen. I need a stepstool to get to anything stacked 5-high on the second shelf!
And still have boxes & a bookshelf that doesn't belong sitting in the breakfast nook!

Nonetheless, with reduced spending money I'm working extra hard to cook from scratch. So we have:

Dried beans (new thing for me, love it!)
Canned beans (now a last-resort)
Rice: Brown basmati, brown short-grain, sushi, wild
My "all-purpose" spelt flour mix (wheat free but not g-f)
Gram flour
Brown rice flour
Xanthan gum
Sugar: Raw, brown, white
Canned tomatoes of all kinds
canned coconut milk
small cans of thai seasonings
Dried Fruit
Canned fruits for occasional kid treats
"Mommy Crackers"--Trader Joe's Savory Thins (cutting back--they eat 'em by the bagful & the price has gone up)
Dosa batter mix (though I'm going to learn to make it one day....)
Trader Joe's GF brownie mix
Tinkyada pasta
TJ's brown rice pasta
Pho rice sticks
Sweet Potato Noodles
Bean thread

In fridge: Tofu, cheeses galore, fresh fruits & veggies. (BTW: celery can be kept beautifully if you cut it into sticks and store in water in the refrigerator)

Out on the counter: A million apples, pears, bananas, oranges... And in the fridge some sliced apples saved from my son, who eats a double ring around every apple and leaves it on the counter.

Freezer: We can't get to our chest freezer yet, so I've got limited space, but my staples are veggie burgers, veggie nuggets, nuts, frozen herbs, TJ's frozen artichoke hearts, butter, vegetable clippings to make stock, frozen stock. I just used a bag of homemade tomato sauce from 2 summers ago to make one of Heidi's recipes & it was still delish!

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bring my lunch to work. I like to know that the food I eat is wholesome... plus I am a vegetarian.

I get questioned and ridiculed daily because I care about the food I eat. It is curious why people would think it strange or call me a health food nut because I care about what I eat.

I have a simple rule that I try to abide by;

If it didn't exist a hundred years ago - It probably isn't good for you.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I ditto some other people's comments. I never think of you as snob or elitist. As for making foods from scratch, I love the feeling of watching people eat at my table and enjoy the labors of my own two hands. There is no other feeling like it especially if you are benefiting your friends and family.

My staples are: olive oil, fresh raw nuts (including pistachios, pine nuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, whole grains, chickpea flour, coconut flour, couscous, bulghur wheat, beans, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, tomato paste, anchovy paste, dried fruits, raw almond butter, wild rice, brown rice, nori, rice sheets, preserved chestnuts, canned milks and yeast.

Karen Bennett

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saw your twitter... how long did you live in Italy? I was there for 4 years. I wonder if we crossed paths and just had no idea!

Really living somewhere is SO different from just visiting on vacation for a week or two, isn't it? That must have been the time of your life!

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always, but always have canned tuna and salmon, canned coconut milk, various beans, rices, and various chilies, whole spices and dried mushrooms. Always have home-made chicken stock in the freezer. Always have good (!) fish sauce, shrimp paste, a few vinegars and soy sauce. On the fresh side I am never without potatoes, cilantro, parsley, onions, garlic, ginger and lemongrass, real parmesan and . With a few vegies this selection makes a quick but hearty curry, salmon cakes, stews and the like.

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I liked that post a lot. I thought it was full of common sense and economical ideas.....My situation is a bit different to his though. I share a tiny kitchen with two unrelated adults. We don't have room for for any kind of gadgetry, so anything that I can't grind small enough in a mortar and pestle I buy ready ground. To be honest I used to grind my own and I really can't tell the difference so long as what I buy is fresh.

On the stock front, yes, it's more economical and less wasteful to make your own, but it also takes up an enormous amount of space in preparation and storage. One day, I hope to own a huge kitchen with a stock pot ever simmering on the back burner. Till then I use powdered and bottled stock and I don't beat myself up about it.

On the dried beans - I always store some, but Nigel Slater (who I very much admire) doesn't recommend them if you buy them in the UK as he says it is the worst and oldest of the crop that are dried and sold for export, whereas those that are tinned are subject to higher quality control. Interesting, I thought.....

Anyway, I'm loving reading about what people keep in their pantries. This is what I keep in the tiny two shelf cupboard, single fridge shelf, and small freezer drawer which is my share of our kitchen space. I always buy free-range, fairly traded and organic where I can:

Maldon salt
black peppercorns
English mustard powder
Cinnamon (ground & sticks)
Cumin (ground )
Ground ginger
Nutmeg (whole)
Dried chili flakes
Cloves (ground & whole)
Dried bay leaves
Dried thyme
Gomasio (sesame/salt seasoning)
Raclette mix

Vanilla extract
Bitter almond extract


Brown rice
Pearl barley
Dried black turtle beans
Red lentils
Popping corn (blue if I can get it)
Pinhead oatmeal

Ground almonds
Flaked almonds (toasted these are my favourite snack)
Milled flax seeds (I'm not a vegan but I like it in my smoothies, yum!)
Sesame seeds

Ground coffee
Earl Grey
Lapsang Souchong
Chai (I use them all for flavourings as well as to drink)

Unsweetened soy milk

Olive oil - extra virgin & ordinary
Rapeseed oil
Avocado oil
Hemp oil (for the smoothies again...I love em!)
Sesame oil
Wok oil (ginger, garlic & chili flavoured oil)

Japanese plum vinegar
White wine vinegar

Marigold stock powder (the full salt non-vegan kind)
Vecon concentrated stock ( I use a mix of this and the Marigold as a base for soups)
Marmite (guess where I'm from!)

Root ginger
Fresh thyme

And in the freezer

Coley fillets (or whatever sustainable white fish I can find)
Kaffir lime leaves
Raspberries (the smoothies again)

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, good luck with your deadline!
I completely understand why you cook from scratch and believe it is a beautiful thing. I don't know how anyone could read your blog and then leave a negative comment. You are such a calm, gentle, wise soul. I always, always leave feeling peaceful...if not hungry!

At 1:54 PM, Blogger Allie said...

I just read that there may be an avocado shortage soon! I'm so upset. That is actually the one thing I make sure we always have.

At 7:56 AM, Blogger Out There said...

I have been slowly learning to cook from scratch including baking my bread and making yogurt (that is becoming an essential pantry item for me...) but I am able to do so in no small part because I don't work. It does seem a luxury to those who have to work full time, and those of us who sing the praises of luxuries as lifestyle come across as snobs. It's simply self preservation on the part of those who might feel a little guilty about not being able to do things the way grandma did. I can't imagine living this way if I had to work full time.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Chrissy said...

Our newly 100% gf pantry (5 gf eaters!) is always stocked with quinoa, rice, and gf pasta. Eggs are always a quick and easy option. For flours, we just keep Jules' Nearly Normal flour on hand to simplify (only 1 flour that works for everything) and we have had great success with texture and flavor. Beyond that, produce flies out of our house; our fruit bowl goes from totally full to empty in just a few days!

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

~ Oils: olive, sunflower, flax seed, pumpkin seed, sesame, avocado
~ Vinegars: balsamic, white balsamic, white wine, rice wine
~ Sauces: worcestershire, tabasco, sweet chilli, soy sauce, ketjap manis, thai fish sauce, Mrs Balls chutney
~ Tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes
~ Tinned & dried beans & lentils (all types), split peas
~ Tinned sardines, pilchards and mackerel, tuna, anchovies
~ Flakes for my homemade muesli: oat, barley, spelt, rye & buckwheat
~ Wheatgerm, oat bran, digestive bran (for muesli too)
~ Couscous, pearl barley, quinoa
~ Rice: brown basmati, arborio, jasmine, american, wild
~ Pasta: spaghetti, lasagne sheets, penne and shells
~ Tinned coconut milk, coconut paste and dessicated coconut
~ Crackers and rice cakes
~ Peanuts, peanut butter (crunchy of course)
~ Jam: apricot, strawberry
~ Bovril
~ Biltong
~ Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, brazils
~ Dried fruit: raisins, dates, apricots, apple rings, figs, cranberries, goji berries, mango
~ Seeds: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, pine nuts
~ Dark chocolate
~ Sugar: white, raw brown, icing, caster (and xylitol)
~ Honey
~ Cornflour
~ Cocoa powder
~ Flour, baking powder
~ Real vanilla essence and vanilla beans
~ Long-life UHT milk (for emergencies only)
~ Tinned apples & peaches (for baking)
~ Capers, green peppercorns, olives, peppadews, gherkins
~ Mayonnaise
~ Thai curry sauce
~ Pesto
~ Wasabi
~ Tahini
~ Mustard: dijon, wholegrain, english
~ Maldon salt, fleur de sel, black pepper (in a grinder)
~ a wide selection of herbs, spices, curry powders
~ Stock powder: vegetable, chicken and beef (I don't make my own very often)
~ Teas: ceylon, earl grey, rooibos, honeybush, green, chamomile
~ Coffee: instant & filter (for guests - I don't drink the stuff myself)
~ Onions, garlic, ginger, chillies
~ Potatoes, sweet potatoes
~ Butternut and gem squash
~ Cheese: feta, parmesan, cheddar, cottage
~ Eggs, plain yoghurt, milk, butter
~ Frozen fish
~ Frozen berries
~ Frozen pita bread, rye bread
~ Frozen peas and corn
~ Fresh fruit: bananas, apples, lemons - and whatever is in season

This looks like an absurdly long list for a single person who has a really small kitchen! However, I do keep everything I've listed in stock most of the time, so I need to buy just fresh vegetables and salad ingredients and meat to make my meals, most of which I cook from scratch.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason why his post seemed elitist is his tone--phrases like "forget about the green tube" in reference to pre-grated parmesan cheese; and "throw out the dried basil and parseley--they're useless". Well--we have those ingredients, maybe we even like them! And his tone is kind of dismissive, thought i guess it's his way of showing personality in his writing.

Your post didn't irritate me this way. But i can understand people's negative reactions to mark bittman's post, even though I like cooking from scratch too..

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

coffee ! Milk ! can't live without my real coffee but agree with most of your list

plus eggs always making vege fritttas and goats cheese

my organic vege box delivery...

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Adele said...

Hahhaha I love it!
-coconut milk
-green and red curry paste
-canned salmon
-fresh ginger
-whole peppercorns
-hemp seed
-ground flax seed
-frozen blueberries

and always

-tinkyada brown rice pasta

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Princess LadyBug said...

I know you don't normally post stuff like this, but I gave you an award on my blog. I just think you have an awesome blog. :)

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Glenn+Jenn+Owen+Ian said...

This is fun!

- lemons
- tahini
- Penzey's spices and stock when I don't have homemade
- olives
- pasta, lentils, beans, millet
- canned beans
- sundried tomatoes
- almond butter
- garlic
- good canned tomatoes and frozen tomatoes in freezer from summer
- tunafish
- olive oil
- mustard
- lemon juice concentrate
- onions
- whole wheat pastry flour
- almonds
- parmesan cheese
- macaroni and cheese (kids)
- oatmeal, oat bran
- raisins and dried cherries
- molasses, brown sugar
- brown rice
- dried mushrooms
- soy sauce
- salsa
- fish sauce
- vinegars (all sorts)
- milk
- pita bread
- lots of fruit
- yogurt
- wine
- pine nuts
- pesto (in freezer from summer)
- frozen white corn
- baby food (taking up space in our freezer from making it this last season)

Wow, this list is not intuitive nor organized!!

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Jess said...

I just wanted to thank you for all you do for the gluten free community! I was appalled at the fact you receive hate mail...that is just ridiculous. I also read through Mark's article and comments. I wish more people would understand that (most of the time) quality ingredients costs about the same as buying the cheaper stuff, because you don't have to use as much and usually it is better for you! Of course you already know that. You're wonderful and I love your blog1

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about seasoned salts!

I found these to be so delicious and useful in my kitchen:



At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People complain because they feel you are judging them. They don't have the time or the inclination to make food from scratch, and so there is guilt.

and I'll add a couple to the list:

Virgin coconut oil
Raw almond butter
Medjool Dates
Dried figs
Ponzu Vinegar

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Gluten Free Mama said...

in my pantry and fridge at all times:
local eggs
raw milk
raw cheese
canned stewed tomatoes
albacore tuna
olive oil
local honey
maple syrup
homemade yogurt
raw almonds
mrs leepers brown rice pasta
pamelas all purpose mix
short grain brown rice
xochitle corn chips
jack's salsa

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Gluten Free Mama said...

oh i forgot braggs liquid aminos and braggs apple cider vinegar

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Melanie said...

I understood and agreed with the concept of his article, but in the real world for people who have more to do than cook, it doesn't work.

I keep stock in a box. I don't have time to make homemade. I also like canned beans. I'm allergic to potatoes so I envy those who get to eat them. I agree with you on onions. I also keep fresh parsley, cilantro and garlic, but keep dried herbs too. Example, right now we are in the middle of a snow storm. It's been a week since I've gotten to the grocery. If I need parsley, I will have to use dried. I have a whole pantry full of every dried herb and spice there is for that reason.

Always have a good olive oil, brown eggs, organic milk, short grain brown rice, canned tomatoes and real butter. Of course many other things! He did get everyone thinking though, didn't he?

At 5:40 AM, Blogger Amy said...

As always i love reading your stuff!
I wanted to tell you I found an EXCELLENT handmade gluten free shop on Etsy! :) or

:) Thanks for all your work!

(the other glutenfreegirl! LOL) :)

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think some folks (not all) just feel inadequate when they read about cooking from scratch. Maybe they don't have the time, or desire - but it's not you. Though you are the one being attacked, I believe it is fueled by, what, Guilt? Maybe? No, maybe we can't all cook from scratch all the time, but the beauty thing is - we don't have to to eat well anymore. Do whatever makes you happy, and realize that it's not your responsibility to make everyone else happy, just you.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous back again (I made the twitter comment)... I just read through some of your older posts and realized that you visited Italy on your honeymoon! I thought you'd lived there- so sorry I misunderstood! Clearly my research skills are, erm, embarrassingly faulty. :) But the timing was right, so we still could have passed each other and never known it!

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Your list looks a lot like mine. I could probably step into your kitchen and make it mine in just a minute.

In my spice rack I have chinese five spice powder. I use it all the time. Cumin, basil, dry mustard. I always have garlic, we like garlic a lot. Onions. I love my breakfast eggs with onions and zuchinni. Olive oil & butter. Sea salt. Rice.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kitchen:
-crayon drawings on the frig
-yogurt is a must for the little one's
-I have a stash of P.B. M&M's
But seriously :)
-tomatoes from my garden (but not now, I miss them, shoulda canned)
-corn tortillas

Can you see where I'm going with this, we can almost always whip up some tacos, taco salad... Mexican food has become a staple since going gluten free but I also love Italian food (my Mother's roots) so...

-menagarie of g.f. flours
-tinkyada brown rice pasta
-fresh eggs (but not right now, darn weather, the girls are cold)
-more garlic (I usually have it in several different forms ie. fresh, minced in the frig, powder)

Thanks for letting me share I enjoy your site and your recipes! Blessings and Enjoy your Family while you are away!

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Green Key said...

Shauna, when you have a minute (whenever THAT might be!), can you tell us what proportions of sorghum, potato starch, tapioca flour, and sweet rice flour you put into your flour mix? I'd love to have a batch mixed up.
Wishing you and your family well during this busy, busy time!

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Shauna, I must tell you: reading your first book changed my life. I've been gluten-free for just over a year now, and I can't tell you how much better my health has been. I'm looking forward to your next book!}

Once I was convinced that my eating had to change, I re-did the kitchen. I'm a mutt with regards to kitchen skills: I'm a foodie and grew up with mostly made-from-scratch Hippie meals, I love to cook, have an extensive, well-used cookbook collection, and blog and read about food all the time, but I also have no problem with using prepacked stuff if I can get the meal to the table quickly [and if I can afford it!] I also keep a strict kosher household and have three kids and a hubby to feed [none of them are GF] on top of it, which can create a lot of fun challenges for the menu! I've written down the things I keep around my pantry and on my shopping list:

Fruits and veggies:

These are the absolute basis for everything my kitchen, and usually the first thing I think of when I'm constructing a meal. I try to use local produce in season when I can, but we keep a stock of frozen fruits & veggies on hand, too. I don't care for canned produce, other than beans and tomato products, which I use a lot. We also use canned fruit in juice or water, dried fruit & berries, and unsweetened applesauce.

Several varieties of rice, polenta and grits,kasha[buckwheat],millet,
oats [when I can get them GF!]. I keep corn and GF grain blend pasta on hand for quick meals. I also use corn tortillas, tortilla chips, rice cakes, rice crackers, and prepackaged GF breakfast cereals.

nonfat plain Greek yogurt, Kefir, Butter, various eating cheeses [mostly cheddar, mozzerella, parmesan, feta and a great white cheese made from kefir.]

Beans, Lentils, Peas & Soybeans, Eggs, Fish [mostly canned tuna & fresh or frozen salmon.],Chicken & Turkey, Red Meat on occasion [Beef & Lamb]

Spices & Such:
Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Sugar [different kinds], Granulated Onion and Garlic, Cinnamon, Cumin, Ginger, Cloves. Morton's Seasoning mixes and Mrs. Dash blends are used a lot, too. Agave Nectar, Maple syrup, Honey. I keep separate jars of peanut butter and nutella, just for my gluten-free indulgence. Olive oil, canola oil, tamari sauce, and baking cocoa are also residents of my pantry.

Nuts, etc:
A large variety of these: almonds, pistachios, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and cashews are regulars.
And popcorn is a daily snack for me!

I'm a lazy baker and I rely on pre-made GF mixes & flour blends for my baked goods. I don't eat a lot a bread in general & I don't bake it, but I keep a GF loaf in the freezer. I use corn starch and potato starch for thickeners regularly.

There's plenty of 'junk food' in my kitchen: those pints of sorbet, boxes of waffles, and my chocolate 'stash' come to mind here--but I enjoy being in my kitchen and feel a lot more pleasure in putting together a bento box than in nuking a frozen excuse of an entree and calling that food. I need to feed all my senses, not just my face.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


As always, thank you for your lovely post. I really needed it this week...I was feeling overwealmed at all that needed to be done...bread to bake, almond milk to make, granola to experiment with. Sometimes I think our relatives think I'm crazy wanting to cook so much from scratch when we have three kiddos 3 and under (the grower and little bean would be such good friends). Anyways, I read your post and felt soo much better. Thank you girl!

As for our essentials:

-brown rice
-especially curry blends
-oats (we're wheat intolerant, not gf, though we lean that way)
-chicken stock
-coconut milk
-coconut oil
-olive oil
-various vinegars
-raw sugar
-various seeds
-beans, beans, and beans
-lots of fresh veggies & fruit...what they are is a phase around here :)

ps. looking forward to your book!

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Katya Kosiv said...

What a great idea for a blog entry! I love Mark Bittman and I don't think he's an elitist. Actually, your blog was the first thing I read when I went gluten free and its served as an inspiration, thank you sooooooo much. I just think everyone is different in their food needs, though not many people can argue against the fact that healthy eating is an essential component for being well (I'm learning all about vitamin deficiencies and metabolism right now).

Lets see, my pantry staples: garlic, stewed tomatoes, pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, TEA (for my tummy and soul), chocolate, quinoa, buckwheat, rice, jam, bouillion, milk, buttermilk, and i love: pickles, olives, sundried tomatoes, cheese

At 11:11 PM, Blogger BS said...

I couldn't do a thing without: lemons or mascarpone.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger stew said...

I'd love to know where you all are able to source your bulk spices from!

are there any websites or vendors that you can recommend who offer spices free from cross-contamination in bulk?

I'm desperate to make my own curry, but I cringe every time I pay the insane markup on those McCormick (bless their manufacturing practices) spice bottles.

thanks so much!

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out my gluten-free drawer, as well as GF pizza and coconut macaroon pie pictures -

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of Rice! short grain brown, jasmine brown, brown basmati, Lotus Foods bhutanese red rice, wild rice, sometimes black rice. Rarely white rice, but occasionally jasmine or basmati.
Some other grains like millet, quinoa, amaranth.buckwheat
Dried black beans and chick peas
In the fridge...
Good yogurt, organic eggs, soy or hazelnut milk, salsa, olives, unsweetened cranberry juice, cilantro.
Shoyu, olive oil, coconut oil, toasted sesame oil,
Garlic and onions
Honey, pomegranite molasses, agave syrup, brown rice syrup,
Flours; brown rice, sweet rice, buckwheat, sorghum, some bob's red mill all purpose gluten free baking mix, dried coconut, dried blueberries, raw almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
grapefruits, lemons and limes. Flax seeds.

At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stew: My gosh, find your local Indian grocery and buy your spices there. They will be way cheaper, way fresher, and grinding them in a coffee grinder is easy enough.

Except for "Italian" type spices, I haven't bout spices anywhere else in five years.

At 12:25 AM, Blogger Sher said...

I've visited your blog many times and each time come away feeling refreshed. I live in a wheat and gluten world, but our household is almost completely gluten free! Your blog is like an island in the sea of the wheat world.

It's so hard to believe that people would leave negative comments on your blog because you promote cooking from scratch! Too bad for them as they miss out on wonderful flavors and foods that only come with cooking from scratch! I didn't cook from scratch too much before finding all my food allergies. But after diagnosis it became a new way of life. Thank goodness for that, for my Czech husband loves eating fresh food (that's the way they eat here in the Czech Republic)!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Beth P. said...

I would like to add my support! For those who think cooking from scratch is snobbish, there are plenty of mixes available as well as other blogs to visit. It is perfectly legitimate for people who like to cook from scratch to have resources. Thanks for providing one! To those who disagree, I say, use your free will and visit another site.


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