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how to stock a minimalist pantry

pantry-2 pantry-5

A few months ago I wrote a pair of posts about setting up a minimalist kitchen: things to avoid and the essentials ( and the nice-to-haves). Following on from this, I thought I’d have a crack at pulling together a list of the essentials and the nice-to-haves for stocking a minimalist pantry.

I’ve actually been thinking about this post since I was in Barcelona last year. Living there for 6 weeks with a tiny kitchen, I really enjoyed the exercise of keeping my pantry items to a minimum.

Back at home it’s time for a long overdue pantry clean out. ‘The lentil shuffle’, as St Nigel calls it although mine is more like ‘a random sauce exorcism’. So for fun I’ve also included a list of the very unminimalist things I’ve ditched (or am using up and not planning to replenish). And for the record, I’m planning to tackle the mess that is my spice box another day – watch this space.

Again, this is just my personal list – based on the types of things I like to cook. Of course your essentials will be different depending on your cooking preferences and style. Actually I’d love to hear if there’s anything you strongly disagree with or anything you feel it is a crime not to include.

my minimalist pantry essentials

1. oil
In Spain I went with a good quality but not too expensive olive oil, which I used for both cooking and making salad dressings. At home I think a minimalist pantry can stretch to a cheaper extra virgin olive oil for general cooking, a more expensive peppery number for dressings and drizzling and some peanut oil for high temperature frying, stir frying or roasting or whenever you need a neutral flavoured oil (like mayo).

2. salt
Again in Spain I had just one box of sea salt flakes but for a more permanent kitchen I’d also allow a cheaper grade of sea salt for making brines and salting pasta water – the times it would be cost prohibitive to use my Maldon.

3. pepper
I can’t imagine a world without freshly ground black pepper. So much so that I’ve been known to travel with my favourite pepper grinder.

4. sugar or honey
Caster sugar is the most versatile as it is fine grained so will dissolve readily. If you’re not a baker, you could probably get by without sugar. In that case I’d include honey for whenever a little sweetness is needed – like in salad dressings or to balance out the seasoning on something overly salty.

5. sherry vinegar
In Spain I limited myself to one vinegar, which of course was a lovely aged sherry vinegar. I didn’t miss my massive vinegar collection, well not too much anyway.

6. soy sauce
Of all the sauces, soy is the most versatile. I’ve been appreciating it as a vegetarian source of savoury flavours. It was the secret ingredient in my recently posted carrot soup. At the moment I have a bottle of Tamari, a wheat-free soy sauce which is handy for when I’m cooking for my gluten-intolerant Dad.

7. dark chocolate
While it isn’t very minimalist to have four different bars of dark chocolate on hand, I have no hesitation including it in the essentials list. You never know when a chocolate-critical moment is going to arise. Also great to have to offer for dessert when you haven’t prepared something for your guests.

8. tea
I love my tea and couldn’t imagine life without my super strong Barry’s Irish Breakfast in the mornings, my Chinese Pu Mu Tan White Tea to sip while I write, and my Lemongrass and Ginger for a caffeine-free after dinner treat. Just need to work my way through my excess Jasmin tea collection.

9. tinned tomatoes
Ever since I was a uni student I’ve always felt I could prepare a meal if there was some pasta and a tin of tomatoes in the cupboard. Also great to add richness to stews and soups.

10. tinned chickpeas
If I had to narrow down my canned legume collection to one essential, chickpeas would win hands down. A meal in a can really (see warm salad recipe below) and an excellent source of protein and iron.

11. dried french-style green lentils
Also known as ‘Puy’ lentils, these are my favourite lentil. Small and pretty, they are very forgiving and don’t turn to mush like many other lentils.

12. plain flour
It’s not called ‘all purpose’ flour for nothing. Can be used in baking, breadmaking and pasta.

13. baking powder
Not essential for non-bakers, but my first choice for a leavening agent. Will turn plain flour into self raising flour in a flash – just add 2 teaspoons to a cup of plain flour.

14. natural muesli
My breakfast of choice.

15. dried chilli flakes
I know I said I’d leave my spice box for another day, but dried red chilli flakes are my first choice for adding a little fire.

16. nuts
For crunch in a crumble, or salad, or for a healthy snack, it’s always a good to have some nuts on hand. I usually have almonds and pinenuts but pistachios, hazelnuts and maccadamias make an appearance from time to time.

17. dried pasta
I tend to have at least one short pasta like my current favourite, mezze rigatoni and a long pasta like linguine in the pantry. Worth spending the extra money on the artisanal stuff.

18. basmati & arborio rice
My two favourite rice.

19. potatoes
As anyone with an Irish boyfriend knows, potatoes are an essential pantry item. I don’t think we really need to have four different varieties in the larder all the time, but who’s counting?

20. garlic
It keeps for ages and makes a world of difference to many dishes.

21. lemons
I have this thing that if I have lemons and parmesan (and loo paper) in the house then everything will be all right.

22. parmesan cheese
Surely the most versatile and long lasting cheese. There are few things that can’t be improved with a little grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano. I also love it as a snack.

23. rosemary
Critical for roast spuds, and easy to grow. It’s one of my few surviving fresh herbs. Also keeps well in the freezer if you aren’t lucky enough to have a fresh source. If it wasn’t rosemary, thyme would be my second fresh herb choice.

24. free range eggs
If you have eggs, you have a meal. I always have some in the fridge and find they tend to last well beyond their use-by date.

my minimalist pantry nice-to-haves

1. brown sugar
I love brown sugar for sprinkle on my porridge or for baking. Can be substituted for palm sugar in Asian cooking.

2. vinegar
I’ve already confessed to having a massive vinegar collection which will be hard to part with, but I think I can do it if I keep a well-aged balsamic, a light white wine vinegar, and my Sarsons brown malt vinegar that I picked up in Ireland to splash over takeaway fish and chips.

3. sesame oil
A little goes a long way but there’s nothing like a splash of sesame oil to round out Asian dishes. I love a little drizzled over steamed greens and steamed whole fish.

4. oyster sauce & fish sauce
After soy, these two are my go-to sauces for Asian cooking. If I have these on hand I can make do without hoisin, black bean, sweet soy etc. Of course this is a real personal preference thing.

5. golden syrup & desiccated coconut
These fall under the category of ‘sentimental ingredients’. I like to have both on hand in case I get a craving for my Mum’s chocolate caramel slice. Appreciate that they wouldn’t star in most people’s nice-to-have collection.

6. anchovies & capers
In my mind these two little bursts of saltiness go together, although are not interchangable. They are both brilliant to brighten up your cooking. Anchovies also have the ability to enhance the meaty flavours in a lamb or beef stew.

7. preserved lemons
Another little ray of salty sunshine that can make a world of difference to your food.

11. canned butter beans, cannellini beans and lentils
If chickpeas are the essential canned legume, it is nice to have some or all of the above on hand for almost instant salads or purees.

12. strong flour
Also known as bakers flour or high protein flour, this is the best for baking bread, pizza crusts or home made egg pasta. Of course, non-bakers can skip this.

13. semolina
For adding texture to fresh pasta and giving pizza bases and bread a rustic crunchy base.

14. all bran
For beefing up the fiber content in my breakfast.

15. ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika
More on spices to come, but these are the three I rely on the most. Purists will argue that they should be whole seeds but minimalists will see the benefits of not needing another piece of equipment to grind their spices.

16. cocoa powder
For making puddle cookies and best ever (cocoa) brownies. Definitely not essential but good to have on hand for baking or for a hot chocolate when someone has depleted your chocolate stash.

17. dried fruit
At the moment I have some dried sweetened cranberries that can be used in salads or baking. I do love dates and prunes as well but they tend not to be as versatile.

18. vegemite
Am tempted to put this in the essentials, but I did survive my 6 weeks in Spain without. Lovely with avocado on toast but I won’t try and convert any non-Australians, just yet.

19. vanilla beans
Sometimes, if I’m feeling a bit impoverished, I use vanilla extract instead.

20. other grains
While pasta and rice are essentials, I do like to keep different grains on hand. Barley, freekah, couscous and quinoa are all in my pantry at the moment.

21. onions
So many great things start with sauteeing an onion.

my unminimalist pantry items on the way out

1. truffle oil
A gift from a friend. While I adore truffles, I rarely think to add truffle oil to my cooking, probably because it so easily overpowers everything. Am working my way though this one but will be declining any future gifts.

2. chipotle chillies in adobo
A relic from my visit to Mexico in 2001. I can’t tell you how many times I have moved house with my little cans of chilli in their smoky piquant sauce. A testament to the powers of canning as a food preservation technique that they still seem to be edible. Planning a few Mexican meals in the not to distant future to rid myself of this food ingredient baggage.

3. red Himalayan salt
Something I picked up when I couldn’t get any Maldon Sea Salt. Very disappointing salt that looks pretty but leaves a strong mineral aftertaste. Planning to use this in my pasta water over the next few weeks.

4. random middle eastern ingredients
Like my chipotle chillies, I’ve been moving my rosewater and orange blossom water from house to house for way too long. Time to ditch the flower waters. I haven’t used the pomegranate molasses in years either but I did used to cook with it quite frequently, during my middle eastern cooking phase. Will use this one up and decide whether it deserves to be rescued into the nice-to-have list.

5. vinegar
I picked up a bottle Chinese black vinegar this because I love it so much when I go to my favourite dumpling house. Time to admit that I never use it. Rice wine vinegar was leftover from a sushi making session back in 2007. I think I prefer to leave my sushi to the experts. I’ve had a precious bottle of super-expensive ancient balsamic for ages and I hardly ever use it because it’s so expensive. It does makes the best minimalist bruschetta. Time to use it up and not worry about replacing. I also have some ‘homemade’ tarragon vinegar from when I found a home for some leftover tarragon in a bottle of cheap white vinegar – the fact that it’s hardly been touched speaks volumes. My final vinegar that need to go is a caramelised red wine vinegar – nothing that can’t be replaced by adding a little honey to some sherry vinegar.

6. sauces
Black bean and sweet soy sauces that haven’t been touched in years definitely need to be cleaned out. I do like having a little Worcestershire around but I think that’s only because my Mum always used to put it in her spag bol. Tomato ketchup is another that I hardly ever use. Likewise the BBQ sauce I last used when testing one of my Mum’s recipes for my first book last year.

7. cocoa butter
One of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. Apparently cocoa butter is great for frying so I borrowed some from work to try it out. Still sitting untouched over a year later.

8. glucose syrup
Something that I used to use as a teenager to make a tooth-achingly sweet caramel sauce to serve with cream puffs. I’m not sure why I have a bottle these days – possibly a sorbet making remnant.

9. caperberries
Another gift from a friend. The fact that they’re still on the shelf means they don’t deserve a place in my minimalist pantry, especially since I have included capers. Will have fun thinking up a good way to use them up though.

10. cream of tartar and bicarb soda
I can’t remember why I picked up the cream of tartar so I won’t be missing it. Bicarb soda could be a bit more radical to ditch. Am planning a little experiment to see whether I can exist on baking powder alone. Will report back.

11. dried organic cherries
Something I used in a salad once but haven’t found a use for since. They are lovely to eat though.

12. ‘logical’ sugar
A new product from CSR I picked up to try out. It’s a low GI sugar that is made by combining molasses with white sugar. Interesting but not really one for minimalists.

13. dried black beans
Another random that I know I haven’t cooked with in the last few years.

14. hot chocolate mix
Made from flakes of real chocolate – a freebie from Lindt. I haven’t tried it yet, but even if it is delicious, it won’t replace a good quality block of dark chocolate in my minimalist pantry. Nice to play with as a novelty though.

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[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
warm chickpea salad with rosemary & garlic

serves 1 hungry person

Sometimes I wish that chickpeas came in a smaller can. The problem with the standard size is that it’s not enough for 2 people but makes for a very large serving for one. I always have the best intentions with this salad but it’s so comforting and moreish that there are never any leftovers.

Think of this as a base to play around with. I think it’s perfect as is but if you don’t have almonds, most other nuts would work. Or you could leave them out all together and serve the chickpeas with a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan instead.

If you were in the mood for some greenery, a handful of salad leaves tossed through at the end wouldn’t go astray. Neither would a nice little side salad, but it is completely satisfying on it’s own.

1 clove garlic, peeled & finely sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
pinch dried chilli flakes, optional
small handful whole almonds, almonds
1 can chickpeas, drained (400g or 14oz)

Heat a medium frying pan over a medium high heat. Add 2T olive oil.

When the oil is hot add garlic, rosemary, chilli and almonds (if using) and stir fry or a minute or so, until the garlic is just starting to brown.

Toss through drained chickpeas and continue to stir fry until chickpeas are warm and starting to brown up a little as well. Season generously & serve warm.



{ 106 comments… add one }
  • Erin 24 May, 2010, 7:03 pm

    Great post. My essentials: eggs, cheese, and yoghurt. Feel nervous without them! Yoghurt is great for a quick and healthy dessert/breakfast, topped with honey, jam, toasted muesli, fresh fruit, and/or brown sugar. Also good as a topping for a baked potato with sweet chilli sauce… which is a good friend to a pork fillet and green beans!

  • Tracy 24 May, 2010, 7:10 pm

    Don’t ditch the dried cherries. Add them to your next batch of cocoa brownies. The result is amazing!

  • Anne 24 May, 2010, 7:32 pm

    The minimalist way will be my way through summer 2010!

  • Alison May 24 May, 2010, 7:47 pm

    Arrived here after following a link on twitter and I’m so glad I did: this is a wonderful, worthy post, and I’m off to tackle all the ludicrous items cluttering up my pantry asap.
    Thank you!

  • Gypsy 24 May, 2010, 7:53 pm

    I need to do this list for my house – I have finally got my pantry sorted so I feel like I have more than enough space for my minimalist needs. But given that we have a vegetarian, a meat eater, and 2 kiddies our ‘must have’ list is a bit longer … including cream of tartar for home made playdough, sprinkles to turn anything into a ‘treat’, and marmite for the essential kiwi kids lunch! Being a foody its hard not to collect random things … just last week I found myself about to buy a bottle of toasted sesame oil.

  • Tresna 24 May, 2010, 7:55 pm

    Having recently set up a second kitchen in a second home I’ve been able to just stock what I deem essential and it’s very satisfying to have just two shelves of ingredients, a few pots and pans and a minimal assortment of utensils. Your minimalist kitchen list helped me to cull my initial thoughts on what I needed. I’m pleased to say that I’m getting by quite well with not a lot of extra “stuff”, and I might add, only one bottle of vinegar (sherry)!

    I feel overwhelmed when I visit my other kitchen which is choc-full of food (7 vinegars) and kitchen paraphernalia! The minimalist kitchen might soon get rolled out there too….

  • amber 24 May, 2010, 8:40 pm

    I really identified with your list this time. However, balsamic is my essential vinegar, and vanilla bean paste and eggs are a pantry staple too.

    I love (LOVE!) chickpeas, so I’m chuffed to see them here. I might try this salad for my lunch tomorrow.

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana 24 May, 2010, 9:14 pm

    Great list. Whilst I love the minimalist concept I just need to have all my random ingredients but I totally understand the frustration of having a pantry fully of useless things.

  • Wei-Wei 24 May, 2010, 10:29 pm

    Thanks for this post! I’m a high school student, but I’m really interested in how to live on my own and cook for myself, so this pantry list will definitely help a lot. Thanks so much! :)


  • heather 25 May, 2010, 12:08 am

    If you’d like, I’d be happy to help you get through that excess jasmine tea! : )

  • Erin S 25 May, 2010, 12:38 am

    I have wished many time that chick peas would come in smaller size tins as well. Maybe 10 years ago, a company in Colorado did make an 8 oz can (Kuner Vegetables), but they don’t any more. Perhaps we should write to them.

    Nice list. I am a salad dressing maker and really like having several different types of oils to include walnut, grape seed, and cold pressed olive oil (Genco is my favorite). If you buy the olive oil in a one gallon can it is much cheaper for the good stuff. The small bottles, 8 to 12 oz, of good olive oil can run $9 to $17 dollars here in the US, a gallon of Genco from Italy is $23. The one gallon lasts about a year for me (cooking for two), I use a smaller bottle by the stove to refill with a funnel, so I don’t have to try to get 3 Tbsp out of the large gallon tin.

    Love your 10 minute 5 ingredient and minimalist cooking. I have made several and it seems we enjoy the same foods.

  • sarah @ syrupandhoney 25 May, 2010, 12:52 am

    Wow, your essentials and nice-to-haves are almost exactly like mine – I knew I loved your blog for a reason! Minus the vegemite, and dried instead of canned beans, we’re on the same page.

  • Kim 25 May, 2010, 1:19 am

    I have made the switch to dried beans and would heartily recommend it, Jules. There’s a technique for cooking beans that only requires 1 1/2 hours, almost entirely hands-off. Just put some dried beans in a pot, add water to cover by a couple of inches, bring that to a boil, add a bit of salt, then put the whole thing in the oven at 250 degrees farenheit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until they’re tender. So easy and I like the texture a lot.

  • ellen 25 May, 2010, 1:27 am

    great post! living in a tiny apartment with only 3 real shelves (well, 4 but one is for books) and no cupboards i’ve enjoyed all your minimalist posts recently :-)
    my essentials list is similar although i prefer apple cider vinegar if I have to choose and use canned black beans much more often than chickpeas. I would add cornmeal to the list, I admit I only use it for one thing, but I can’t live without cornbread! I also like to keep couscous and rice noodles on hand as well as some frozen veggies for those days when even pasta isn’t quick enough or I haven’t had time to go to the market. Finally, I don’t know if it counts as minimalist, but I have potted herbs (mint, basil, rosemary) growing on my windowsill. They jazz up my meals, smell good *and* look pretty and green in the city.

  • Gip @ So Much More 25 May, 2010, 1:50 am

    This post immediately caught my eye when I saw it retweeted by Leo — because I wrote a post a few weeks ago called The Minimalist Spice Rack. Go ahead. Have a look:

    I don’t write much about cooking, but I do write about simplifying life, so I find your minimalist pantry suggestions fascinating. I just discovered this blog a few days ago and love it already.

  • Olivia 25 May, 2010, 4:51 am

    Lovely post! Thank you!


  • Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen 25 May, 2010, 7:51 am

    You’re so right about the in between serving size from one can of chick peas. Despite the serving size issue, this looks like a fantastic one person, quick-dinner meal. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Heather(eatwelleatgreen) 25 May, 2010, 7:55 am

    Vegemite deserves to be an essential. It’s needed for a Sunday night supper of boiled eggs and vegemite soldiers. It’s a great hangover cure with its B vitamins. It can be used the way you’ve used the soy sauce in your carrot soup, to add a little salt and increase the depth of flavour. And even without all this, it’s so entertaining to watch overseas guests help themselves to it over breakfast!

  • jennifer 25 May, 2010, 8:41 am

    Ditch bi-carb soda??? It has 1001 uses and is one of those house-cleaning essentials! I use it to clean my stainless steel sink to a brilliant shine; any tarnished silver (line plugged sink with foil, place silver on top, pour boiling water over to cover, add plenty of bi-carb soda, et voila, clean silver!!) Stains on kitchen counter tops, etc etc.
    Admittedly I’m trying to think when I use it as part of any cooking process, other than as a raising agent!

  • Laura 25 May, 2010, 8:49 am

    Noticed that brown sugar is on your “nice to haves”, well have a tip. Simply keep black strap molasses on hand. This is an easy and natural way to brown up your sugar, and goes well to give meats, soups and chillis and even breads depth of flavor. Love the site and the minimalist approach. Bon Appetite! LMK

  • Tracy Willans 25 May, 2010, 9:14 am

    The cream of tartar and baking soda are your baking powder without any nasty hidden suprises. 1tsp cot and 1/2tsp baking soda to 1 cup of flour. The baking soda is also the best cleaning agent around, is a fantastic stain remover and carpet deodorizer and a tablespoon added to the wash improves the performance of your washing detergent so much you should be able to use less of it. And best of all its cheap.

  • Tracy Willans 25 May, 2010, 9:16 am

    cooked chickpeas freeze beautifully in any size that is good for you.

  • Jen 25 May, 2010, 10:13 am

    Great post. I really need to cull my pantry.

    Here in Perth at one of the “Big 2” (so probably available at both) I buy packs of 4 x 125g tins of chickpeas – great to add to a salad for a quick lunch. Four bean mix is also available like that.

  • Kristen 25 May, 2010, 1:45 pm

    Great post. I am with you on the list, almost the same as mine. Nothing more annoying than a cupboard full of just not enough of five different types of pasta to make a meal. Is the pantry in the photos yours? Now that is impressive! As I can be trusted with a short list of pantry essentials, my next chellenge to buy some decent containers and tidy everything up. Might also help me win the war against the dreaded Sydney pantry moth. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Alex 25 May, 2010, 5:05 pm

    Bicarb and cream of tartar are definitely part of my minimalsit kitchen – I use them in baking, sweets and the tartaric acid to add acidity to jam/gingerbeer/cordial/sorbet if I have made some and the fruit was s smidgin too ripe. Both are pretty handy for cleaning too! They are part of my top 15. Ditch the baking powder – it is a single use item only!

    I agree with you on chickpeas. Love them. ALOT.

  • Claire 25 May, 2010, 9:07 pm

    You are hilarious. This list is great – my pantry looks like a supermarket exploded into it most days (though I have been making sure I go through it at least once a month and get rid of things I don’t use). I’d change vanilla extract to vanilla bean paste, I use all sorts of flour and sugars cause I cook almost everything from scratch, and my orange flower water is used in my orange salad (which is 10 mins, 4 ingredients) so do I get to keep it? Plus fattoush = pomegranate molasses so don’t give up on it yet!!! However I have never had dessicated coconut in my house and I intend to keep it that way – you crazy Australians with your lamingtons.. my kids beg me to make them but I will stand firm!! :-) And agree with chilli flakes – I put them in almost every recipe – not enough to taste exactly, but they lift the flavour of almost everything.

  • Johanna GGG 25 May, 2010, 10:05 pm

    I think I could live with your list – though probably would need another cheese than parmesan and some peanut butter. It is interesting that you are ditching some of your ‘ethinic’ ingredients – I find that trying different cuisines expands my range of pantry products that I don’t use often and also that I go through phases when I have ground almonds all the time and the suddenly don’t touch them for ages. Reading blogs always tempts me to try new ingredients though I try to substitute with what I have in my kitchen.

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) 25 May, 2010, 10:22 pm

    I’ve thought often about what would be in my “survival” pantry, and I’ve posted about it several times, too. There’s some overlap with your list (salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, etc.) and also much that reflects individual preferences. For instance, I could live a lifetime without rosemary, but wouldn’t want to go a day without fresh thyme. Could live without chickpeas, but not without black beans. And I tossed the random orange and rose waters from my pantry, too!

  • Ali Walker 26 May, 2010, 12:38 am

    Yummmm. That chickpea dish looks divine!

  • Natasa 26 May, 2010, 12:57 am

    I love this post!
    I also like and find interesting that the list of the essentials are so similar to mine whereas the lists of the nice-to-haves and on-the-way-out are quite different…

  • Sue 26 May, 2010, 4:26 am

    Excellent list, I’m always searching for the perfect ‘bare essentials’ storecupboard. Nigel Slater has a good one in Appetite.

    D’you mind if I swap the vegemite for Marmite? :o)

  • Katie Mae 26 May, 2010, 12:11 pm

    I was looking through food blogs after a light dinner, saw your chickpea salad, and knew that a second course was in order. My pantry overlaps with yours quite a bit, so I had the ingredients, and it really did just take 10 minutes (plus some time to stir fry fresh green beans in the leftover oil and spices). I think it’s going to be a new quick dinner favorite. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kaushik 27 May, 2010, 7:05 am

    Great list. I can’t do without my Indian stuff: turmeric, garam masala, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, elaichi, cayenne pepper powder.

  • Katrina 27 May, 2010, 10:04 am

    Your post had perfect timing – I am about to move into the city and into a much smaller kitchen and was deciding which of my multiple sauces/rices/teas/cans were my must haves. Thankyou for you insight and advice. I love reading your blog, keep up the great work :)

  • Jessica 27 May, 2010, 1:20 pm

    you’re my favorite blogger ever.

  • Marteka 27 May, 2010, 6:33 pm

    Love this blog! Love that you give me metric measures and give good instructions – I’m a bit of a novice in the kitchen…
    I wonder: How much is a “C”? I’m guessing it is a “cup”, but how much should your cup hold? I have different cups to choose from;-) Help me out?

  • Cally 27 May, 2010, 8:45 pm

    I’m with Jennifer: keep the bicarb and ditch the baking powder. It has so many more uses and bakes as well – truly a wonder-product. My top three are sticky toffee pudding, deodorising the fridge and polishing the outside of the kettle!

    Also I have to have a tin of kidney beans in the house. Refried beans are my go-to comfort food every time – everything in the store cupboard (beans, onions, garlic, spices), just add one or two fresh peppers and you’re there.

  • Cally 27 May, 2010, 8:50 pm

    Ooh, and I meant to ask: do you ever make “thunder and lightning”? I think the name comes from Horace, anyway in our house we just call it “Horace” and it is the ultimate minimal chickpea dinner: pasta, chickpeas, fresh chopped basil and grated parmesan, with just enough olive oil to smooth it all together. Olive oil can be warmed with a bit of garlic first, of course. The addition of pasta means one can of chickpeas is perfect for two people :-)

  • Kayla 28 May, 2010, 6:15 am

    Love your blog. I have been following it for months. I love this post because it is what I used to always search for online-what to have in my pantry (I was a new married and didn’t have much of a kitchen yet). In my blog I try to do similar posts (well, I will. I have only posted twice.) I am a NEW food blogger and I am not sure the protocol on these kinds of things, but I am going to add you to my blogroll because I read you everyday. Anyway, please let me know if you do not want me to place you on my blogroll. Thank you!

    Kayla, the nonstick cook

  • jules 28 May, 2010, 8:37 am

    thanks for sharing your pantry essentials everyone. I am now reconsidering the bicarb v’s baking powder – I’d forgotten about all the nifty non baking uses for bicarb.

    hey kayla
    good luck with your blog – no need to ask to add people to your blog roll.

    love the idea of thunder and lightening or horace – there’s something about creative names for dishes. sounds delish and great idea to overcome the chickpea can size dilemma – thanks

    yes C = a cup. A standard metric cup is 250mL so best to choose one about that size. Most smaller traditional cups are the best – not your oversized mugs

    sue – be my guest – I’d even accept promite ;)

    yeah I’m rethinking the pommegranite molasses – I used to use it all the time – of course fattoush.

    yes it’s my pantry in the photo. I love my jars.

    will keep an eye out for the 125g tins chickpeas – thanks for the heads up

    thanks for the vegemite tips – my mum used it in cooking but I hadn’t thought to.

    thanks for the spice rack link – it’s next on my list

    done – cherries are now slated for a batch of cocoa brownies – great idea

    I’ve been thinking I should cook beans from scratch more – thanks for the inspiration

  • colleen 1 June, 2010, 10:45 am

    love dried cherries in steel cut oatmeal and in oatmeal cookies — they plump up and give a wonderful sweetness so you can use less brown sugar or instead of raisins!

  • kylieonwheels 1 June, 2010, 11:22 am

    Hi Jules, great post. Seems we have a big group of people here who could happily cook a great meal in each other’s kitchens!

    Here’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while, you might be a good person to ask. What is the best way to store parmesan? I use it often, but not often enough that i can use the whole block before it gets mouldy? Any tips on good storage? I’ve heard different theories about paper vs plastic wrap, and so on, but haven’t found a winner yet.

    Ooh yes and with your glucose syrup you could make some muesli bars. I tried a recipe the other day and failed completely, but it’s definitely a good way to use up a jar.

  • Brooke 1 June, 2010, 3:30 pm

    Chick peas…Edgell makes it in a 125g size. Also in that size are corn kernels and creamed corn – essentials for my pantry.
    I’m loving this blog. Your old friend, Jane (we’re both ex-Arnotts) pointed me in your direction. Ciao.

  • Julie 9 June, 2010, 6:03 pm

    I love reading these pantry suggestions. Also, that picture has me wanting to go out and get some more of those jars and organize my pantry :) Its funny, for me dried black beans and canned chipotles in Adobo are absolute essentials! I cook with them every week, easily. Same with dried pinto and red beans. I cook up big batches and stick them in the freezer to use in recipes later. Jalapenos are a must for me as well, and onions – they both just add so much flavor to everything. I also see natural unsweetened cocoa as more essential than chocolate – I find I cook with it far more. For my baking pantry – bicarbonate of soda AND baking powder, flour, granulated sugar, confectioners sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract are all unfortunately essentials (gotta be able to make chocolate chip cookies in a pinch).

  • Lorin 16 June, 2010, 6:47 am

    If you need to get rid of the rose and orange blossom waters, a good non-cooking use is to put them in a spray bottle and douse liberally on your linens. I use about half fancy water to half plain water. It’s great to climb in bed and find amazing smells.

  • Karen 18 August, 2010, 7:58 pm

    Hi there,
    i have been reading this site for just a few weeks, but was drawn to it because I could see an obvious challenge I could offer you.
    This December my husband and I will set sail from Melbourne to Cape York and return back home. We expect this passage to take a very leisurely year. It could be done much more quickly, but we are planning on a passage which will give us plently of time to slowly interact with all the communities we will encounter.
    Based on a 10.5m/ 35ft yacht, we have limited storage space for bulk foods, and limited but functional refrigeration.
    Here’s my challenge:
    Please offer your idea’s for space/refridgeration saving food idea’s.
    Currently we have onboard the ability to use a stove top, oven and bbq all gas fired.
    We often use a small cryovac machine to store both cooked and raw foods.
    We eat all foods with great relish, so have fun with the challenge!

  • Jenny 21 September, 2010, 12:44 am

    onion, dried beans and chickpeas, tahin, miso, fresh yeast (I am danish and I LOVE to make my oven bread), milk

  • Jen 21 September, 2010, 12:03 pm

    I just made the chickpea salad, but with pinenuts, chopped kalamata olives, and freshly picked spinach :) Amazing!

  • Jennifer 28 September, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Cream of Tartar…works great to fend off an impending bladder infection. Just 1/2 to 1 tsp in 8 oz of water. Usually works within about 1/2 hour. Unfortunately tastes a bit like a Bayer aspirin that has dissolved before being swallowed.

  • Aly 16 November, 2010, 10:42 am

    Love the site. I’m a vegan college student and I have definitely developed my minimalist kitchen on accident in the last few years. When one only has $30 and an hour for groceries each week, one gets creative. My roommate on the other-hand easily takes up twice as much room as I do in the pantry. It’s refreshing to hear from a kindred soul. can’t wait to read more.

    I have used baking soda far more than baking powder. Can someone make an arguement for baking powder please? I don’t get it.

  • Sophia 30 January, 2011, 3:02 pm

    If I have garlic, olive oil, and pencils in the house, I feel okay. Throw in some dried pasta and vinegar and I’m a happy camper. completely. Wonderful list.

  • greg keysers 13 March, 2011, 4:36 pm

    love simple great tasting food and want get rid of some unused stuuf out my pantry

  • Lydia 13 June, 2011, 10:29 pm

    I’m a creole girl from the southern reaches of Louisiana. We’re very French down there. Can’t do without onion. Definitely one of my absolutely essentials.

  • Kate 13 July, 2011, 4:03 pm

    I realize this is a bit late, but baking soda (bicarb soda) and plain white vinegar are fabulous for cleaning and disinfecting things from laundry to refridgerators, to getting burnt stuff off the bottoms of your pans.

  • Lindsey 21 July, 2011, 1:33 am

    Thanks Jules, after finding this recipe, I think I make it for my husband and I once a week. It impresses guests and curbs our snack cravings…instead of chili flakes, I use Sriracha (lots) – we like spicy…anyway, thanks! Bon Appétit from Nice, France!

  • jules 21 July, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Siracha would be a great addition Lindsey
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Gretchen 21 October, 2011, 12:00 pm

    What do you think of the flavor of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos vs. traditional soy sauce? Would it be an okay substitute in your opinion? Thanks for the great list!

  • jules 22 October, 2011, 4:14 pm

    I haven’t tried liquid Aminos Gretchen,
    I’d say it would work well though… there’s only one way to find out

  • Raquel 18 November, 2011, 1:00 pm

    About the dried organic cherries, I love to add these in oatmeal or any other hot breakfast cereal. Add them in while your cooking the oatmeal so the cherries rehydrate and plumpen up.(you can do this in the microwave, stove top, or however you cook your oats) It adds so much more favor, texture, and a little bit of sweetness.

  • Melissa 19 December, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Fabulous Pantry……a little like mine!
    I have been growing in health awareness, and I have become rather fokd of superfoods. What I am not fond of is the price…so I have been smart about it…juggling superfoods with whole foods..balancing meals and portions… and keeping the budget inline!
    I’m sure your site will be of great benefit to me..
    Thank You :)


  • Nikki 21 May, 2012, 2:08 pm

    If you want to be a minimalist in your cleaning, you could use white vinegar and baking soda to clean. =)

  • Nif @ Call Me Nif 6 August, 2012, 5:41 am

    Love your site!! Just featured this chickpea salad on my blog. Hope you’ll check it out! http://call-me-nif.blogspot.com/2012/08/warm-paleo-chickpea-salad.html

    • jules 13 August, 2012, 7:39 am

      Thanks Jennifer!

  • Ian 30 December, 2012, 11:18 pm

    And for diabetics, you can now use Stevia as a sweetener. Natvia brand has some good work-arounds to make this work as well as sugar.

    • jules 2 January, 2013, 4:19 pm

      Good point Ian

  • Jennie Walker Knoot 3 January, 2013, 6:00 am

    Hi Jules! First of all – I LOVE your blog. I did not take to cooking after getting married (something I weirdly assumed would happen naturally!), but your quick and healthy meals with simple, basic, and familiar ingredients have totally changed how I feel about cooking for the better. My husband also appreciates the change :)

    Random question – can you tell me where you got the canisters you use in your pantry? Our pantry is completely exposed, so I wanted to store all my ingredients in cute jars but have been having a hard time finding cute ones that also store food well.

    Thank you!

    • jules 9 January, 2013, 5:15 pm

      They’re just from Ikea Jennie… a good investment!

  • Amanda 22 February, 2013, 1:23 pm

    Jules – you could always put those dried cherries into muffins if you are anxious to use them up. I often use dried cranberries, but cherries would work just as well.
    And vegemite? Hmmm – I don’t think so …. hehe

  • Emily 21 March, 2013, 10:08 pm

    I know this is an exceptionally tardy reply, but the best way to use up caperberries in to pop them atop a Bloody Mary or in a vodka martini!

  • Margarita 28 March, 2013, 7:47 am

    As a college student with a college-student budget, let me just say how much I love you.
    And my roommates are learning to as well. They noticed when my BYO lunches to campus switched from sandwiches (boring ones) every day to healthier, interesting food. (I love the tuna and white bean salad!)
    Also, I love this post since we have been struggling with knowing what to keep stocked in our pantry, with the exception of olive oil and oregano and a few other spices. (I’m half Greek. If anyone tries to take my oregano from me I will fight them to the death. My other half is also Mediterranean so possibly those relatives will also roll over in their graves in anger.)
    My one disagreement with this list is red wine vinegar – I make my own salad dressing (I got it from my dad, the Greek one) of olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, and sometimes a little lemon juice, and I’m not willing to give that up. But of course, that’s just me.

  • Nicole 28 May, 2015, 8:01 am

    I’m only new to your blog, so I realise this comment come quite some time after the original post :)

    I have cream of tartar for making playdough, I don’t know if I have ever used it in food.

    Bicarb soda I couldn’t live without, though I use it more for cleaning than cooking :)

    I’ve always wondered what Puy lentils were after reading the Jamie Oliver cookbooks, so thank you for that bit of information. I’ve added some to my monthly pantry order list

    • jules 28 May, 2015, 8:52 am

      Great Nicole! So glad we’ve got you trying puy lentils… They’re delish!

  • Nicole 31 May, 2015, 8:26 am

    Hi Jules,

    Now that I’m looking at my pantry, I’ve got a heap of hazelnut meal that I can’t even remember why I bought it (as in, which recipe I intended to make). Do you think it would be ok to substitute into recipes calling for almond meal, or would the flavour be stronger and make it less suitable?

    Thanks ????

    • jules 2 June, 2015, 8:56 am

      Hi Nicole!

      Hazelnut meal is lovely in baking but it can be quite strong on flavour so if you think you might not want too much hazelnut flavour just use half/half with almond meal… although it goes really well with anything chocolate!


      • Nicole 2 June, 2015, 11:05 am

        Thanks :)

  • Louise 14 January, 2017, 3:41 am

    I agree with your list – without the Vegemite. I tried it while living in Sydney but it’s an acquired taste. Just like my sons Aussie friends would not try peanut butter and jam sandwhiches. I would keep the bicarb for baking. We don’t really use self raising flour in Canada. I would add Maple Syrup for my Normandy style crêpes and Italian tinned tuna packed in oil (for sandwiches and salades, not pancakes!)

    • jules 17 January, 2017, 2:07 pm

      Yes vegemites is definitely and acquired taste Louise! Love the sound of your pancakes :)

  • P40 8 April, 2017, 9:25 am

    I can’t believe you didn’t put ‘onions’ in the must have… I have a tiny top cabin as pantry, and then I do the unthinkable with some fruits and vegetables, I put in the fridge :( … I shouldn’t, but I have this massive ugly big fridge, and no real pantry :(

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