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What’s in your store cupboard/pantry?

Posted by on Thursday 3 November 2011 in meta | 12 comments

(I realise I am a contrary soul – pushing the GET RID OF STUFF NOW!! agenda on one hand and then in this post, advocating stocking up but I think food and household goods are a little different…)

One of my “to-do before winter” jobs is to make sure our store cupboard is stocked up on essentials for us and the animals in case the weather is bad and we’re too lazy to go to the shops in the snow/ice. The obvious next question for me is “what do we consider store-cupboard essentials?”.

I’ll start with the animals as they’re easier: Lily-dog is pretty easy to deal with as she gets 2x15kg bags of biscuits delivered every three months or so. I think she’s got just over a bag left so I’ll order another twin pack in the next couple of weeks and she’ll be fine. The cats need dry food/biscuits (from the supermarket) and canned food (which we currently order online as we’re trying a slightly specialist type to stop the STINKIEST POOP EVER) – we’ll buy at least double the normal quantity (or more if the dry is on offer) next time we do an order/shop. The cats also need some cat litter (since they’re old & lazy) so we’ll make sure we’ve got some extra bags in store too. The chickens need layers pellets – a 20kg lasts us nearly a month and we’ve got just over a bag at the moment — we should get another couple this month. (All the animals get treats as well, but they’re not essentials. Possibly the only thing in the “treat” category that it would be worth stocking up on is chew bones for Lily as they’re good to clean her teeth and she chews sticks otherwise.)

For us, for the kitchen stuff, there is a difference between absolute so-we-don’t-die essentials and things we to give us a reasonably normal, decent, varied diet. I think the latter is more relevant to us as chances are any problems (or laziness) will only last a few days/a week at moment – and if we don’t need them, we’re more likely to use them in the regular run of things. So I’ll consider our food store-cupboard essentials to be: rice (basmati & risotto), various canned/dried pulses (min: chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, red lentils, brown lentils), pasta (spaghetti & some sort of smaller shape), canned tomatoes, tomato puree, tuna, sweetcorn, olives (for eating & for cooking), jars of pickled veg (such as beetroot & chillis), flour (a couple of different sorts for bread & baking), dried yeast, onions, pureed ginger & garlic (we buy big tubs of it), dried herbs & spices (min: chilli, cumin seeds, ground coriander seeds, oregano, basil, mustard seeds, bay leaves), stock cubes/bouillon powder, cooking oil, worchestershire sauce, cereal/porridge (although both would generally need access to milk – possibly get some UHT/rice milk just in case), CHOCOLATE, tea, coffee and sugar, and in the fridge, some sort of cured/smoked sausage (such as chorizo or kabanos) and some parmesan-ish cheese. Assuming short term snow days/being lazy, we’ll obviously have our existing homemade chutney/jam collection, eggs, meat, vegetables and other assorted goodies in the cupboards/freezer to keep us going but I’m going to make sure we have decent supplies of at least the stuff listed above.

Other stuff: bottled drinking water in case we have pipes burst like last year which result in longer water outage, toilet paper, (homemade) soap, painkillers and other basic medication (particularly cold-related stuff), and matches (for lighting the wood burning stoves).

I’m hoping that we’ve already got most of this stuff in store as part of our usual supplies (which are at their peak right now anyway as we did a once-every-six-weeks supermarket run on Monday) but if not, I’ve at least now got a checklist/shopping list to work through.

What’s on your store cupboard/supplies list? Is there anything major that I’ve missed?


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  1. louisa

    It didn’t really fit in the post above but I wanted to link to this recent article on Get Rich Slowly. It’s primarily about how to still take advantage of bulk buying offers when you’re single/a small household but it also has a list of unusual places to store things if you’ve not got lots of kitchen cupboard space. An interesting read for all us hoarders ;)

  2. strowger

    a multivitamin
    cooking oil
    lentils, chickpeas, rice
    spices (so the above is actually palatable)
    coal (wood normally on the stove, but if the power or gas were out, coal would get us warmer and stay in better overnight)
    cat food

    we were snowed in for weeks on end last year so it’s had serious thought – and those are the essentials i’ve made sure we’ve a month’s supply of already. obviously we have other stuff in the kitchen too, plenty of it, but none of it is essential. as we get in to snow season i’ll make sure that generally everything we buy, we have as much stock of as fits comfortably in the cupboards.

  3. Attila

    We live near shops (100 yards but expensive) and within a mile to 3 miles of 3 supermarkets (one of which is where DH works) so we don’t need to stock up so much because of snow, although snow elsewhere can stop deliveries. It rarely snows much here but we are still well prepared. I am chronically sick and DH is obviously ill at times so that’s when we appreciate our stores. One thing I am very careful never to run low on is our female cat’s kidney diet biscuits (5kg is about £30-£33 online and £45 at the local vet!). Last year, because of snow everywhere, an order took 2 weeks to arrive but fortunately we had enough in stock.

    • louisa

      We’re at a similar distance to shops – a small Asda (Netto until a month ago) and a big expensive Sainsburys are about five minutes walk away, with our preferred supermarket (Morrisons) about 3 miles away. We also have a 24/7 petrol station at the end of our road – about 100 yards – which is fine for milk (and chocolate treats!) — but as you say, snow can stop deliveries and when you’re ill, that 100 yards can feel like a marathon.

  4. Karen

    Lots of the same sort of things as you. TVP is something I like having in stock, evaporated milk just in case (I secretly prefer it in coffee), tinned beans for lazy time and tinned plain pumpkin in case the dog has the runs.

  5. PipneyJane

    I always have a stock of long-life skimmed milk in the larder. Like you, we only shop once a month, so when the fresh milk runs out, we switch to long-life. Can’t taste the difference with the skimmed, unlike the other varieties.

    Squash is the only other thing I’d add to your list. I don’t like the taste of tap-water, so we buy 8 bottles of squash at a time.

    We recently bought 10kg of basmati rice for £10 and, on Wednesday, bought 10kg of wholemeal chapatti flour for £4. Both from Tesco. At 40p/kg, that’s the cheapest bread flour I can find. (That’s the only flour I stock because of space. I can use it for everything (including cakes), adding baking powder if needed.)

    – Pam

    • louisa

      A year ago, squash would have been on my list in giant capital flashing letters – I drank it all the time – but I went cold turkey over the summer and now only have a glass about once a week. I can understand your loathing of tap water in London – it’s just not nice – but in Yorkshire, it’s delicious! :)

      Interesting about your use of chapatti flour in cakes etc. We get bags of that and sacks of rice from the international supermarkets – amazing how long a sack of rice lasts us!

      • PipneyJane

        Re the chappati flour: I was hesitant about buying it for a long time but it is just finely milled wholemeal flour for about half the price per kilo. Unlike “regular” wholemeal, pastry doesn’t come out with the texture of gravel and colour of cardboard – it’s more like white flour that has had bran sifted in. Any toughness due to the extra glutin gets lost in my food processor’s inability to cream butter with sugar to any meaningful extent (the old foodprocessor could but the blade is too high in this one). My baking wouldn’t win awards anyway, although once I start using my new Kenwood Chef things might change.

  6. Simple Miss P

    Great- someone else doing a stock-check! I have just completed my “what’s in the cupboards” and am now trying to plan my menus around the contents rather than buying more. I am aiming for a very low shopping bill for November!

  7. Hazel

    My storecupboard is very similar to yours. I wouldn’t bother with cereal, but the rest of the family would object, so it’s on the list! I try to serve other things for breakfast. DD2 especially likes semolina with jam, but this takes loads of stirring and I’m lazy, so I now keep flaked rice in the cupboard as it’s ready in 10 minutes. The good thing about hot grain breakfasts- apart from the fact they’re cheaper and better for you with no added salt/sugar etc- is that dried milk powder milk tastes the same as fresh in them, ditto porridge. So I keep a packet each of those.
    I have a lovely milkman with a 4×4 (he has a very rural milk round!) and when nobody can get out of the village he leaves milk on my doorstep!
    I also always have 1 or 2 (plastic) bottles of fresh s/s milk in the freezer, just in case even Tom the milkman can’t get in. Or DH drinks all the milk and it’s not a delivery day…
    I’d also add tinned baked beans (we cook dried beans too, but sometimes, especially with children, it just has to be baked beans. I also add them to shepherds pie and an unlikely sounding but delicious bake that consists of spinach or chard cooked and mixed with cheese sauce, topped with baked beans and then mashed potato and baked. Might have that for tea tomorrow, actually…!), garam masala, tinned pilchards/sardines in tomato sauce, for pets in an emergency or having on toast or mixed with pasta and golden syrup and some dried fruit/seeds to make flapjack out of the oats.

  8. Sue

    Clipper English Breadfast tea. It got a bit scarce for a while whilst the packaging changed. I used to clear the shelves when I saw it. You can get it in Sainsbury’s again now but I still need at least 2 boxes in the cupboard to feel happy!

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