Cooking, Baking & Cocktail Shaking

The Pantry

There is no specific definition for a well-stocked pantry. If you ask ten different people their take on a well-stocked pantry, you’ll get ten very different answers. Everyone has their own cooking style and specific dietary needs.

My definition of a well-stocked pantry is being able to reach into my pantry, fridge, or freezer and make something delicious and wholesome without having to make a trip to the grocery store more than once a week. If I’m being honest, yes, some weeks I trek to the grocery store more than once. But, for the most part, I plan my menu ahead of time and keep my pantry stocked in order to save time, money, and my sanity. If I had to go to the grocery store every day after work, we would starve.

I’m going to give you a little glimpse into my pantry. Don’t let my love for flour scare you away (six total). When I started baking, I used all-purpose flour for everything. If you only have room for one or two different bags of flour, don’t fret. That’s the great thing about stocking your own pantry–it’s all about you! You get to decide what ingredients work best for you and your kitchen. If you don’t do a lot of bread baking, there’s no need for bread flour. Stock your pantry according to your needs cooking style.

My pantry items reflect my cooking style. Yes, I own six different bags of flour and eight different types of chocolate chips. My pantry is busting at the seams.

Pantry Dry Goods | www.themessybakerblog.com

Dry Goods:

Flours- I keep an extensive stock of flour in my pantry–six different types! Flour is like shoes, you can never have too many bags, and just one pair (bag) won’t do. I agree, six different types of flour may be teetering on the side of excessive; however, in my defense, I use every single bag of flour I keep stocked in my pantry. Each different type of flour I use has its own purpose. Here’s what I have on my designated flour shelf:

  • All-Purpose Flour- The most versatile and well-loved blend. This is my go-to blend when baking rich cakes, cookies, and brownies. When buying all-purpose flour, I always buy a brand that offers an unbleached all-purpose blend.
  • White Whole Wheat Flour- This blend of flour is great for transitioning to whole grains and healthier baking. It’s mild in flavor and light in color. King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour is my favorite.
  • Whole Wheat Flour- Rich, earthy, and nutty. This hearty blend is perfect for incorporating whole grains into your diet. The robust flavor and dark color add richness to baked goods. Whole wheat flour is characteristically more dense than all-purpose and white whole wheat flour. I prefer King Arthur’s Whole Wheat Flour.
  • Bread Flour- I didn’t think I had a use for bread flour until I had an epic bagel fail. If you’re a bread baker, I highly recommend giving bread flour a try. It’s high protein content increases rise and creates softer, chewier pizza crust and bagels. I can no longer live without out it.
  • Gluten-Free All-Purpose Blend- If you dabble in gluten-free baking, I highly recommend keeping a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend handy. I personally love Pamela’s Products Artisan Blend.
  • Cake Flour- If you want a moist, tender, delicate crumb, reach for cake flour. Pillsbury Softasilk Cake Flour is a staple in my pantry.

Baking Powder & Baking Soda- These two leavening agents are essential when it comes to baking cookies, muffins, cakes, and quick breads. Be sure to replace your stock every year.

Corn Starch- This silky starch not only aids in thickening sauces, but it can be added to baked goods to create a tender, fluffy crumb.

Cocoa Powder- Perfect for brownies, cookies, cakes, and more. I prefer Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

Sugar- Life would be pretty bland without a spoonful of sugar. I use sugar in various forms: granulated, light brown, dark brown, raw, organic cane sugar, powdered, and coconut sugar. The three I use the most, hands down, are granulated, brown, and powdered. Without them, my sweet treats wouldn’t be so decadent.

Honey- I use a lot of honey in my kitchen. I prefer raw honey. Raw honey is honey in it’s natural state. It’s honey that hasn’t been heated or filtered. I think it’s the best tasting honey out there. I buy my raw honey from a local aviary in Strasburg, PA. Not only do I cook with honey, I use it in marinades, dressings, drinks, and even as a facial cleanser.

Maple Syrup- This all-natural sweetener is perfect for vegan baking. I use it to sweeten my energy balls, smoothies,  muffins. I always drizzle it over homemade waffles and pancakes.

Extracts- I keep my baking cabinet stocked with a huge bottle of Kirkland brand vanilla extract that I buy from Costco. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I use vanilla extract in just about every baked good that comes out of my kitchen. I also keep almond extract, coconut extract, lemon extract, and orange extract handy.

Chocolate Chips- So many chips! I keep just about every variety of chip stocked in my pantry: semi-sweet, dark, milk, bittersweet, and white chocolate. My chip of choice is Ghirardelli. I wait for them to go on sale, and then I buy all the bags. I also use peanut butter chips, cinnamon chips (my favorite!), Andes Creme De Menthe baking chips, and butterscotch chips–I’m a chip addict. I also keep a box of unsweetened chocolate squares handy.

Espresso Powder- Instant espresso powder has the power to enhance chocolate treats. A little espresso powder in a chocolate cake will give the cake a robust chocolate flavor. Add a pinch to your chocolate chip cookies for a mocha flavor. Take chocolate pudding to the next level with a spoonful of espresso powder.

Oats- I keep a huge stock of old-fashioned oats handy. I use them so much that I buy them in bulk at Costco. I use them to make my weekly granola, cookies, energy balls, and smoothies.

Nuts & Seeds- My pantry is well stocked with various nuts and seeds. I use them a lot in my raw baking and granola. I keep  pecans, walnuts, and almonds stocked in my freezer (they keep longer). I keep smaller batches of sunflower seeds, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and cashews stocked in my pantry.

Oils- I keep a variety of oil stocked in my pantry: extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil. I believe that coconut oil is magic. I use it in my baked goods, raw treats, and in my homemade body products.

Fridge Items:

Milk- I keep whole cow’s milk, half and half, heavy cream, and a variety of unsweetened non-dairy milk stocked in my fridge. Since I’m not a huge fan of cow’s milk, I usually reach for almond or coconut milk.

Buttermilk- I always make sure I have a small jug of buttermilk stocked in my refrigerator. It adds rich, tangy flavor to any baked good or homemade dressing. If you like moist biscuits, cakes, or muffins, buttermilk is a must.

Butter- No lie, last year I used my weight in butter. There is no competing with the flavor butter adds to baked goods. Not only that, but buttercream–I don’t think I could live without homemade buttercream. It’s that good!

Eggs- Boy, do we go through some eggs. Between breakfast on the weekends and baking during the week, we use a lot of eggs. I always keep large eggs stocked in my fridge.

Greek Yogurt- I keep non-fat and full-fat Greek yogurt stocked at all times. I use it in my healthy baked goods, smoothies, chia seed pudding, and overnight oats. Sometimes, I top it with homemade granola and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a quick breakfast.

Heavy Cream- I only buy heavy cream when I know I’m going to need it. I use it to thicken creamy pasta sauces, make buttercream frosting, and homemade ice cream. A little cream goes a long way.

Cheese- There is no such thing as too much cheese. I always keep my deli drawer stocked with Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino, cheddar, and mozzarella. I prefer to grate my own cheese, so I purchase blocks instead of pre-shredded.

Active Dry Yeast- I know it sounds odd to keep yeast in the fridge, but it stays fresher, longer. I adore Red Star Yeast products.

Freezer Items:

Frozen Veggies- I keep bags and bags of frozen veggies stocked in my freezer. You never know when you’re going to want to whip up a big ol’ pot of soup. Since frozen veggies are packaged at the peak of freshness, they’re guaranteed to be delicious. I keep frozen peas, corn, green beans, and lima beans handy.

Frozen Fruits- Just like frozen veggies, frozen fruits are also packaged at the peak of ripeness. I stock bags of frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mangos, and pineapples. A lot of times, I buy in bulk over the summer when fruit is at its most affordable and freeze them myself. Here’s a great tutorial on how to freeze peaches (works for most fruit). I also keep a generous stock of ripe frozen bananas handy for my nightly peanut butter banana oat smoothie.