Pantry Cooking Month: Getting started

Pantry Cooking Month starts with an inventory and a brainstorm.

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Well, the first thing I decided to do was to take a little inventory of what’s in my larder. Makes sense, right?

Pantry Commentary 2010

(Not my actual pantry; photo by Julie Magro, aMichiganMom on Flickr.)

Canned/jarred food:

8 cans tuna
2 cans split-pea soup
1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cans kidney beans
3 cans cannellini
1 can red bean paste
6 cans corn
1 can fat-free refried beans
1 can vegetable soup
2 cans tomato paste
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
1 jar sauerkraut
1 jar grape jelly
2 jars peanut better
many, many condiments/pickles/sauces
most of a bottle of ruby port
most of a tub of organic vegetable shortening
a small amount of cocoa butter


a few fresh veggies (celery, carrots)
most of a jar of applesauce
some leftovers (not many; we don’t tend to cook large quantities)
condiments and flavorings (mayo, salsa, curry paste, liquid smoke, vanilla etc.)
a tub of miso paste
2 pre-fab pie crusts
2-lb. block of medium cheddar, unopened
a tub of cottage cheese, unopened
half pound of butter


2 lbs. shrimp
1 pork chop
A couple corn dogs
Several bags of chicken skin/fat to make schmaltz with
a little ice cream
baking stuff (flours, sugar, yeast)
brown rice
teff flour
brown sesame seeds
red quinoa
bag of shrimp shells
a leaky bag containing the other half of the Syrah from the short ribs

Dry goods

a pretty large variety of dried beans, seeds, and grains (rice, oats, cornmeal, etc.)
a box of falafel mix
a bag of Korean roasted corn for tea
a box each of rice krispies and shredded wheat
a few pop tarts
many, many, many herbs and spices
a bag of TVP
a bag of seitan strips
baking stuff (baking powder, soda, etc.)
a bar of unsweetened chocolate
a few packs of ramen
lots of coffee
a metric buttload of popcorn

Also, on the counter is a fresh batch of yogurt in the yogurtmaker, a variety of fruits, a bottle of corn oil, some onions/garlic, and more spices.

Next, I made a quick list of a dozen or so dinners I could cook using only the things in my pantry/fridge, without buying anything new. (Breakfast and lunch are easy: toast, cereal, sandwiches…)

Pantry dinners, brainstorm version

Pasta with tomato sauce and TVP
Split pea soup with croutons (a fave of the kid)
Falafel and flatbread with tahini sauce
Pork fried rice
Red beans and rice
Tuna casserole
Grilled cheese and soup
Pasta e fagiole
Stuffed buns
Noodles with peanut sauce
TVP sloppy joes

As the weeks go on, I’ll need to get a little more creative, but some of our favorite standbys are on this list, and it’s looking good for having actual real food to eat without buying much more than fresh produce, eggs, milk, and coffee.

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Author: Serene

I run The Mom Food Project, which was born out of love for my mom and a desire to preserve the recipes of my childhood, which didn't actually exist in written form until I quizzed my mom and wrote the recipes down.

3 thoughts on “Pantry Cooking Month: Getting started”

  1. Yeah, it can definitely be a good feeling to lower your grocery bills for a bit by using up a bunch of the stuff that’s just been languishing forlornly on the shelves, including perhaps some things you bought but hadn’t quite gotten up the nerve to try yet.

  2. What else do you guys like to do with canned tuna besides casserole? That’s one staple that I tend to buy more of than I actually eat – I make tuna-salad sandwiches (mayo, chopped celery and/or green onion and/or zucchini whatever I have around), tuna pasta salad, and tuna casserole, and that’s about it. My dad used to make a meatloaf-type-thing out of tuna.

    If I see corn in the cupboard, I look for eggs and weiners, and then if I have all three I make Hickory Corn Fritters and serve them with maple syrup – that was one of our favourites as kids.

    A month would be long enough that it would feel like a real accomplishment at the end, and it will be a real treat when you get new different stuff afterwards!

  3. Well I’m taking stock and figuring my list of meals too. I’ll put up a post later this week about it. Today we are working on dry beans and homemade canned apple pie filling, NOT together but pantry staples that need to be cycled through.

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