Val’s Pantry Staples

I’ve been posting a lot about food lately. Maybe it’s because this OMAD thing (which is proving very successful, I might add) has food on the brain in a completely different light.

Or maybe it’s because the last time I went to the grocery store, I noticed several prices of regular items had increased by a significant percentage.

Or maybe it’s providential.

Who knows, but here’s another post about food. This time, I’m sharing what our on-hand pantry staples and what we use or store them for.

I almost feel like a commercial for Azure Standard (read my praise or watch the video I did here) but aside from my home-canning, Azure is primarily how our pantry stays stocked.

I’m going to share the staples we have, but also tips on how long it can last if stored properly. We use our pantry staples regularly, so none of it will last us this long.

That said, to give you peace of mind if you’re wondering how long whole foods can last in storage, you’ve got a while before you need to worry about throwing anything away.

Grains:

Rice: we use a white rice, like jasmine or basmati, most often. When stored correctly, it has almost an indefinite shelf-life (25+ years) and a little goes a long way in bulking up a meal. Not to mention, it’s one of the most inexpensive foods you can purchase and easy to come by in larger quantities.

We also have some brown rice for giving a different flavor to meals, though brown rice does not last as long as white, as it contains more natural oils. The same is true for things like couscous, quinoa, barley, etc. which we also have on hand.

Oats: We go through a lot of rolled oats with the kids having oatmeal a couple of times each week, making granola, cookies, or my favorite oat/chocolate/peanut butter bars. Oats are also very inexpensive, and stored correctly can last 5 to 10 years. This is a staple I think every pantry everywhere should have.

Flour: I do buy larger quantities of flour than the average bear, but I probably bake my own goods more than the average person also. We have biscuits every Saturday morning, I regularly make scones, muffins, waffles, pancakes, breads, cookies, cakes, gravy… the list goes on. I will say flour has a shelf life of around 12 – 18 months, so if you don’t use it often, don’t buy it in massive quantities.

Wheat Berries: This is what becomes flour! Wheat berries have an indefinite shelf life (remember Joseph storing grains through seven years of plenty for seven years of famine?) Hard red, hard white, and soft white are the common bread grains.

We use einkorn, kamut, and spelt berries because the ancient grains are easier on our bodies than conventional grains. So long as you have a way to grind the grains into flour as you need to use it, this will have your baking needs covered. You can also soak the berries and eat them like hot cereal for different absorption of their health benefits.

Pasta: Our biggest pasta consumption is the kids’ favorite of macaroni and cheese, or my favorite of chicken alfredo. Pasta does not have an indefinite shelf life, but it will last for many years stored in the right conditions. Some pastas contain more natural oils than others, so will deteriorate more quickly. On the whole, however, pasta is a great way to bulk up a meal and make a little food stretch a lot further.

Dried Beans: These aren’t technically grains, I know, but I’m putting them under this heading. Dried beans will last indefinitely and are an inexpensive, tasty way to stretch any meal. Pinto, black, red, kidney, navy, garbanzo, lima – the list is long, and they all have their own health (and flavor) benefits.

Split Peas: same as the dried beans explanation!

Lentils: These are so healthful, and so long-lasting, whether you have tried them before or not, I think it would be worthwhile to add them to your pantry. They can make any soup, stew, or rice dish stretch further and more flavorful.

Sweeteners:

Sugar: We don’t use white sugar often, but do have some on hand. We mainly use evaporated cane juice or Stevia. The great news about most natural sweeteners is they never go bad. They have a true indefinite shelf life.

Brown sugar, however, with its high molasses content, will not last indefinitely and will need to be used up before going bad.

Honey: It may crystalize over time, but it’s easy enough to reconstitute. A little honey makes a big sweet difference, as it can often be sweeter than sugar itself. One day I hope to have bees and harvest our own honey, but until then I’m okay with storing big jars of it as a staple in my pantry.

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is not necessarily inexpensive, but if you are able to buy it in bulk or larger quantities, it is far less expensive than buying multiple smaller portions over time. Maple syrup is delicious and once you have the real thing (not the fake stuff taking up most the room on grocery store shelves) you’ll never go back.

We use it to make cornbread, sweeten oatmeal or ice-cold drinks, and of course over our pancakes or waffles. Some people say maple syrup can go rancid – but not the pure stuff. If you buy syrup that has corn-derived additives or chemical agents, sure. But the syrup straight from the tree that’s been boiled down and bottled will last you a life time.

Molasses: Little Man and I love molasses. Little Miss and Hubs think it tastes more like Vegemite than a sweetener, and they can’t stand it. To each their own.

Molasses does not have an indefinite shelf life and will spoil over time, but it has a long enough shelf life that it’s worthwhile to have on hand. Not only do we use it to top our pancakes, waffles, and cornbread, but I use it to sweeten baked goods or to make my own brown sugar. Blackstrap molasses especially has multiple proven health benefits.

Fats:

Olive Oil: We use olive oil regularly to season our cast iron, to pan-fry foods, or to add in for baking. It does not have an indefinite shelf-life, but is said to stay stored well for 12-18 months.

Butter: Technically, I don’t keep this in my pantry, but I’m including it here. We store our butter in the freezer, and use so much of it, buying in bulk is a big deal. The price of butter fluctuates constantly, so bulking up when it’s on sale is imperative.

Ghee: This is clarified butter, where all of the milk proteins have been cooked away. Ghee, when stored in an air-tight container, can last indefinitely. It’s a wonderful cooking/baking fat to have on hand, for long-term storage especially. It still has the delicious buttery flavor, and can be used as a butter substitute when no butter is available.

Coconut Oil: I use coconut oil for almost everything. From personal hygiene to cooking, coconut oil is invaluable in our household. The great news about coconut oil is it will last for almost forever. It doesn’t spoil like olive oil or butter, and can be used in place of those in any recipe. The health benefits alone of consuming coconut oil earn this staple’s rightful place in the pantry.

Lard: When rendered correctly, lard can last in the pantry long-term, without going rancid. It takes patience and technique, but it’s possible. Lard is one of the most versatile fats, and should not ever be overlooked.

Home Canned Goods:

These are healthy and long-lasting. My favorite benefit of home canned goods, is not only the flavor amazing, but I have intimate knowledge of the origin of everything in my jars. We can:

  • fruit (pears, peaches, apples, cherries, etc.)
  • vegetables (potatoes, beans, peppers, soup bases, etc.)
  • soups and stews
  • condiments (pickles, jellies, sauces, etc.)
  • meats or entire meals (pot roast with veggies, pulled pork in bbq sauce, sausage, ground beef, etc.).

The debate is ongoing for how long home canned goods can remain shelf stable. Anywhere from 12 months to indefinite is the range in the argument. We’ve eaten home canned chili that was three years old – and no one died. In fact, it was really tasty three years later.

I try to keep a general rule of eating through our home canned goods within that three year window, but I honestly would not be turned off if I found a properly sealed jar of something in the back of my pantry one day that was beyond that time frame. When you follow the guidelines and the seal stays secure, I don’t see why there would be an issue consuming the food.

Just to mention, store-bought canned goods have been proven to last well beyond their “best by” date, some being opened and eaten with zero ill-effects more than ten years later. Store-bought canned goods are going to be closer to indefinite than expiry storage (so long as the cans aren’t dented, squashed, bulging, etc.).

Baking Staples:

Things like:

  • Baking powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Vanilla
  • Salt (so important to have on hand for so many reasons!)
  • Cocoa powder
  • Whole spices
  • Shelf-stable milks (almond milk, coconut milk, even coconut cream) And/Or
  • Powdered milk/cream

These are all essential and have long-term to indefinite shelf life. Real vanilla (Pure vanilla extract, not imitation vanilla flavoring) will last forever.

Miscellaneous Pantry Items:

Things like vinegar (indefinite shelf life), dried herbs, popcorn kernels (indefinite shelf life), dried fruit, chocolate chips – these are all essential pantry items, and if stored correctly, can last as long as anyone would need them to.

Conclusion:

And there you have it. That about wraps up all of the staples of our pantry.

We use all of these items on a regular, consistent basis, which is also a good reason we stock up on them. I don’t stock up on things we won’t or don’t use, just because I can. I mentioned lima beans in the beans list, but we don’t eat them – so I don’t buy or store them. Pinto beans, on the other hand, are available in my pantry in large quantities.

Most of the items in our pantry were acquired from an Azure Standard purchase. This is because their quality, price, and quantity are hard to beat anywhere else.

If you decide to use Azure Standard and find a drop in your area and you use my link, when you order $100, I receive a referral credit! If you use my link, I sincerely thank you in advance. Not only for helping me keep my pantry stocked, but for trusting my recommendations and advice.

Happy pantry stocking!

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