Showing posts with label meal planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meal planning. Show all posts

Saturday, October 06, 2012

a meal planner's pantry

This is part of my pantry. I know - spoiled. One of the things I fell in love with in this house was the large walk-in butler's pantry - and then we went and doubled its size. Bliss. Want to know what I keep in it {um, yes, aside from champagne and wine...} Here's a glimpse:

A few years ago Newcastle had a flood. We're lucky to be on a hill so we weren't affected by the water - but we had no electricity for a week, and the supermarkets were closed for a few days due to water damage. Luckily I have a pantry that could sustain us for a few days (or probably weeks if I'm honest, it's a big pantry…) I get antsy if I don't have the essentials on hand. My daughter often enjoys whipping up a cake or some cupcakes at a moment's notice, so there's always the baking essentials available - and stuff for dinners too. Here's my essentials:

Tinned food:
I don't use a great deal of tinned food, but those I do are absolute essentials. Here are my faves:
Legumes: chick peas, cannelini beans, red kidney beans are always on high rotation in my pantry. Why? So. Many. Uses. First of all, heat them with a little oil, a little garlic and mash - and hello - a high protein alternative to mashed potatoes. Yum. Or, use them to make a salad - roast some capsicum, finely dice a red onion, make a vinaigrette, drain a tin and toss. Voila.
Tomatoes: I do love tinned tomatoes, whether they're diced, or those divine tinned cherry tomatoes, these are a slow-cooked-supper's secret weapon.
Tuna and Salmon: whether it's for a speedy lunch option, or to whip up simple salmon patties or thai fish cakes, these are regulars on my shelves.
Beetroot: diced or sliced, or baby beets - this makes a salad or a burger extra-spesh. Drained baby beets or diced beetroot are amazing when strewn on a bed of baby spinach and dotted with chunks of persian feta and some roasted pecan nuts.

Herbs and spices
I used to be SUCH a herb snob. I would only use fresh herbs and turned my nose up at the dried stuff. But then Jamie Oliver and Nigella both waxed lyrical about the different flavour sensations offered up by good dried herbs and oh my. Have you ever drizzled olive oil over pita bread and sprinkled it with dried mint before baking till warm and crispy? Nope? You MUST. In my book, dried thyme's almost as awesome as the fresh stuff, and oregano is quite the taste revelation.  I'm also partial to the old retro-fave Mixed Herbs. Seriously, what is a meatloaf or meatball without this flavour combination. A good collection of herbs and spices can jazz up any dish.

Pasta and rice
Now, strictly speaking rice isn't a pantry food in my house as I tend to store it in the freezer. Why? Well, I found out that my pesky pantry moths weren't coming in the flour as I'd suspected, but the arborio rice. Freezing goods for two weeks kills the eggs and banishes the weevils. Hurrah! Now, I've always got arborio rice for paella and risotto, sushi rice to serve with salmon (yum) and basmati for Indian or Thai dishes. I also like to have an array of noodles and spaghetti. Along with ramen and udon noodles to make a cold salad dish or to serve hot alongside meals. These are the ideal bulk,  great to add to soups or casseroles to stretch your meals further. I also like to have polenta on hand to whip up a soft polenta to serve alongside meals. I make mine with chicken stock, ground black pepper, parmesan and a knob of butter at the end. Divine.

Baking goods
I always have a good stock of plain flour, baking powder, bi-carb soda, sugars (caster, brown, demerera, icing…) on hand for baking. I never buy Self Raising flour, it tends to lose its potency pretty quickly, and it's easier just to make your own with plain flour and baking powder. I also need vanilla beans, vanilla paste and vanilla extract (do you sense that I'm a wee bit of a vanilla fan?) I also make sure I have a packet of dried yeast in there too. So long as there are butter and eggs in my fridge (there always are) then I can whip up just about anything sweet or savoury in a flash,

Miscellaneous must-haves
Add to this are 'fresh stock' (beef and chicken), sauces: tomato, bbq, worschestershire, sweet chilli, soy, plum, and garlic and onions. Oh, and I mustn't forget red and white wine - and brandy! I always buy 4 litre tins of olive oil, and decant it into smaller bottles for ease of use. I have one of those two bottle sets, so in one I have plain olive oil, in the other I add a few slivers of garlic to the oil - voila - instant garlic oil for cooking or dressing salads or veg. There's always japanese panko crumbs on hand too - love these on schnitzel, salmon patties or sprinkled over the top of a gratin. Mmmmmm.

What are your pantry essentials?