Just a year ago, it would have looked much different. It would have had healthy staples like whole oats, brown rice, and olive oil; but it would have also been full of froot loops, fruit roll-ups, ritz crackers, cake mixes and a whole host of refined, processed items. Though my pantry isn't completely free of these things (see above: brownie mix and artificially-colored pedialyte...), I'm pretty amazed at how much healthier it looks and how much tastier my food is.
My pantry philosophy has changed from what's the quickest to prepare and what did I get for next-to-nothing after coupons to what's whole and natural. In case you didn't know, I used to be a crazy coupon girl and my pantry and closets were stuffed to the brim with whatever I got for super-cheap or free after sales and coupons. I thought making the switch to whole foods was going to increase my grocery cost because coupons for whole foods are pretty rare. But I found that whole foods are often inexpensive on their own, without coupons. And the money I save buying whole foods goes to purchasing more expensive items organic produce and local, organic meats. So all in all, I've been able to keep my grocery budget pretty close to what I was spending before. We are a healthier family for it. And my kids don't even miss the Gushers and Capri Suns (shocking, I know).
When I was organizing my pantry, I tried to do it in the most logical way I could think of. I've used lots of recycled sauce and jelly jars and plenty of plastic containers I had on hand. I've found that I have kind of a love and slight obsession with my jars. I just love the way things look in a jar as opposed to a box.
Here are some of my favorite things in my pantry and things I use the most.
I put my breakfast grains in one area, so here I've got whole oats, steel-cut oats, Quinoa, 6-grain cereal and brown rice cereal. There's a few other things tucked away (corn meal and such), but the one's I use the most are up front.
I use a lot of dried fruits and nuts, especially in my Homemade Granola, homemade trail mix, and in my breakfast oatmeal, so I have a neat little collection of jars containing these lovely beauties. Let's see, my most used of these are the cranberries, raisins, pecans, and almonds. How did the sunflower seeds get up front...? Hmmm, I think Not-So-Little-Man was hungry...
Two of my newest and uber-delicious finds are these: Artisana Coconut Butter and Cacao Bliss. I tried making my own coconut butter in my vitamix, but the texture just wasn't the same as Artisana's. I will have to keep trying, but until then, nothing beats the creamy texture of this jar of deliciousness. Oh, and the Cacao Bliss is basically the coconut butter with chocolate. It melts into a great sauce or frosting. I tend to eat both of these straight from the jar with a spoon. No shame here...
One of my joys is grinding my own flour. I can't explain it, but it is deeply satisfying to me to put a baked good on the table made with flour I ground myself. Thus, my giant container of organic wheat berries. I order 50lbs buckets when I run out and when I can get free or reduced shipping. I haven't found a local source for organic wheat berries. But the 50lbs lasts me 6-8 months or more. It's still cheaper than buying the whole wheat flour from the store and the taste and texture is a million times better. Also, I can use the wheat berries for a hot cereal, or I can sprout them, or I can grow wheat grass from them for smoothies and juices. Though I haven't tried growing them, I kinda have a brown thumb. Anyway, next to my wheat are my lentils and beans. See how adorable they are in their little jars? ...ok, ok, so I'm a bit of a nerd, but I think jars are cute.
And finally, my last most-used section of the pantry are my sauces and vinegars. I try to make my own sauces from scratch when I can, but it sure is nice to have some on-hand in a hurry. But my vinegars add so much flavor to my dressings and recipes. I like having a good variety of vinegars. Red Wine and Apple Cider vinegars seem to be what I use most. Except in natural cleaning, that's where the distilled white vinegar wins out every time. My house smells a bit like a salad when I'm done cleaning, but I feel good about not dousing my floors and food prep surfaces with chemicals.
So that's it, my evolved pantry in all it's glory. It probably seems silly that I get excited over my pantry, but it makes me feel good that my children see what real food looks like and that delicious food doesn't come from brightly-colored boxes.
How about you, how has your pantry changed over the years?