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How To--The Cook's Pantry

Updated on September 19, 2015

pantry /ˈpæntrɪ/ noun (pl) -tries

A small room or cupboard in which provisions, cooking utensils, etc, are kept; larder

Word origin: Early 14th century, from Anglo-French panetrie (Old French paneterie) "bread room," from Medieval Latin panataria "office or room of a servant who has charge of food" (literally "bread"), from Latin panis "bread"

How Are Pantries Used?

The large houses and estates in Victorian era Great Britain had separate rooms for each distinct stage of food preparation. The washing, peeling, and chopping of food was done in the larder, the kitchen was for cooking, and the storeroom was for food storage. The scullery is where dishes and pots and pans were washed. Cleaning of fish and cutting of raw meat (a messy job that required a source of water) was also done there. And, the pantry is where the china, glassware and silverware were stored.

In America, pantries evolved from early Colonial American "butteries", a cold northern corner in the house where butter was stored. In middle-class America butler’s pantries or china pantries were built between the dining room and the kitchen.

Today a pantry is a room or cabinet where non-perishable foods are stored. It can be as simple as one or two shelves in your kitchen cupboard, or as elaborate as a walk-in room with labeled shelving, bins, and storage containers.

Do You Need a Pantry?

Everyone who cooks needs to have a pantry. But, don't get hung up on the concept of having a large space reserved in your home or your kitchen for storing "stuff".

The "how" is not as important as is the "what". Although organization is important, you first need to consider--What do you need to have on hand to be able to put together easy and healthy meals for yourself and your family?

Here are some ideas.

Canned or Jarred Goods

Items for the Beginner's Pantry
Add These If You are Comfortable in the Kitchen
And Add These If You Dream of Being A Gourmet Cook
beef stock
canned salmon
anchovy paste
black beans
kalamata olives
Asian fish sauce
cannellini beans
mild curry paste
Asian plum sauce
chicken stock
roasted red peppers
chunk light tuna
sun-dried tomatoes
clam juice
diced tomatoes
crushed ginger
garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
light coconut milk
minced garlic
mango chutney
peanut butter
tomato paste
vegetable stock
Canned or Jarred Goods
Canned or Jarred Goods | Source

Baking Goods

Items for the Novice Baker
Add These to the List If You Like to Bake
And Add These if You Are Better than Sara Lee
baking powder
bittersweet chocolate
dried apricots
baking soda
dry yeast
pastry flour
brown sugar
sliced almonds
pine nuts
confectioners sugar
unsweetened cocoa poweder
pumpkin seeds
whole almonts
turbonado sugar
dark raisins
whole wheat flour
white raisins (currants)
dried cranberries
yellow cornmeal
granulated sugar
non-stick cooking spray
pure vanilla extract
semi-sweet chocolate chips
white flour
Baking Goods
Baking Goods

Dry Goods

New in the Kitchen
Add These if You Are Handy with a Stockpot
And Add These if You Proclaim "I'm an Iron Chef"
dried lentils
brown rice
peal (Israeli) couscous
dried pasta
bulgur wheat
polenta (not instant)
dry bread crumbs
rolled oats (not instant)
white long-grain rice
pearl barley
white arborio rice
whole-wheat couscous
wild rice
Dry Goods
Dry Goods

Herbs, Spices and Seasonings

Seasonings Ever Cook Should Have
Add These to Your List as Your Repertoir Expands
And Add These to Pretend You Have Your Own Cooking Show
dried oregano leaves (not powder)
dried bay leaf
cinnamon sticks
dried thyme leaves (not powder)
dried crumbled sage (not powder)
coriander seeds
chili powder
dried dill weed
curry powder
garlic powder
dried tarragon
dry mustard
ground black pepper
nutmeg (whole)
ground cinnamon
red pepper flakes
smoked paprika
ground cumin
ground ginger
vanilla bean
Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings
Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings

Condiments, Sauces, and Spirits

Basic Condiments and Sauces
Add These As You Gain Confidence
And Add These When You're Rockin' the Stockpot
barbecue sauce
chile-garlic sauce
hoisin sauce
dijon mustard
dry sherry
marsala wine
dill pickles
fish sauce
madeira wine
maple syrup
oyster sauce
whole grain mustard
light corn syrup (Karo)
soy sauce
teriyaki sauce
worcestershire sauce
Condiments, Sauces, and Spirits
Condiments, Sauces, and Spirits

Oils and Vinegars

Just Getting Started
Then Add These as You Grow
And Then Buy These to Make Those Ultimate Meals!
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
rice wine vinegar
apple cider vinegar
red wine vinegar
sherry vinegar
safflower oil
sesame oil
white wine vinegar
oils and vinegars
oils and vinegars

© 2015 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Rachel L Alba - We found space for a pantry under the stairs in our 2-story house. It probably wouldn't work for everybody, but I'm only 5 ft tall so I have no problem. Thanks for your kind words and support.

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I'd give anything for a pantry. I have a very small house and very little room for can goods and other pantry items. I really envy people with pantries. Nice hub.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh dear Bill - Please don't view this as an indictment. Think of it more as a goal. Your cooking can be as simple or as adventuresome as you wish. Hugs.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ummm...if you ever come to Olympia, I won't let you see our pantry. In fact, I wouldn't even be able to find it to show it to you. LOL My goodness gracious...we are woefully lacking at our house. :)

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