Pantry Refresh

The time has come, the walrus said, to get your kitchen in order. What, the walrus didn’t tell you that? 🙂 Maybe it’s just me…

It was time for a clean-out of all my food storage areas: two large cupboards, a small one, and the fridge/freezer. I took everything out, checked to make sure it was all still OK, cleaned the shelves, reorganized as I put everything back in, and made a list of things I needed to buy.

I like to keep a wide variety of staple foods on hand so it’s easy to make almost anything by adding a few fresh ingredients. Here’s what I had in stock – cupboard #1:

Cans and Bottles

Cans and Bottles

Unopened: spaghetti sauce x 3, canned tomatoes x 4, vegetable juice x 6, baked beans x 3, refried beans, black beans, white kidney beans, mixed bean salad, plum sauce, chutney, salad dressing, olives, ketchup, “pomegranate molasses” (exotic ingredient for a recipe I haven’t tried yet), pumpkin, lemon pie filling, applesauce, cranberry sauce, coconut milk x 2, homemade salsa x 2, homemade pickles x 2

Open: regular and low-salt soy sauce, honey x 2 (bought 2-pack at Costco, only one is open), store-brand “nutella,” Marmite. News flash! Since my last pantry post, I have grown to tolerate Marmite, and I occasionally have it on cheese toast – gasp! I like the intensity – I would say it’s comparable to olive tapenade).

From the cereal, cracker and vinegar shelf (!)

Cereal: plain Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios (sweetened), All Bran Bites with strawberry filling, shredded wheat squares x 2, Shreddies (which are sweetened shredded wheat squares with malt)

Crackers: whole wheat saltines, cream crackers, selection (for Xmas/New Year’s), Toppables (similar to Sociables and Ritz), Melba toast, Rom’s UK shortbread

Vinegars etc. (because the shelf is tall enough for them!): Vinegars: balsamic, malt, apple cider and rice. A bunch of gifted/sample oils and vinegars, lime cordial drink mix, popcorn and the last of the tortilla chips

Pasta, oats, flour

Pasta, oats, flour

Pasta: lasagna noodles x 2, whole wheat rotini x 2, Kraft Dinner/mac and cheese (regular and whole wheat), spaghetti, linguine, fettucine, orzo and soup noodles

Other: oats (large flake and quick), chia seeds, and 3 kinds of flour (unbleached, whole wheat and rye) – ww will go in fridge when weekend baking is done

And here is what all the above looks like in its usual home:


Next are the contents of cupboard #2:

Pantry Staples

Pantry Staples

Includes: 10 lb (4.5 kg) bag basmati rice, brown rice, red and green lentils, bulgur, quinoa, millet, barley, couscous x 2, dried chick peas, green split peas, fine oatmeal, many kinds of unsalted nuts (peanuts, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, sliced almonds, sesame seeds) and dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, papaya, pineapple and candied ginger)



Includes: cannisters for white sugar, brown sugar and icing sugar; molasses, salt and sea salt, vanilla, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda, corn starch, yeast, bran for baking, sweetened and unsweetened dried coconut, butterscotch chips, flavour extracts, food colouring, toothpicks, cupcake liners and birthday cake candles

Here is what those items look like stored away:


On the second shelf I added some wheat berries and sunflower seeds that had been left out. And, um, full disclosure. Apart from the rice on the left, the top shelf is all sweets! I did not have the courage to give you a close-up photo. The cookies on the left next to the rice are Rom’s. All the candy on the right is mine. I could try to explain, but really, what is the point?!

Moving quickly along, we have a large assortment of coffee and tea. I use the loose PG Tips for everyday black tea. I bought 3 flavoured loose teas a year ago (still going strong) and 2 more in the summer. I have coffee beans, cheap espresso, good espresso, and emergency instant. I think Rom has 11 kinds of herbal tea and the Caf Lib (coffee substitute) since he doesn’t do caffeine. There’s also a package of mulling spices for red wine or cranberry juice.

This is the tea and coffee cupboard:


Now the fridge. Here’s what was in the fridge this morning:


This is not well-stocked compared to usual.

Top shelf: leftover cooked rice, the hemp protein powder that I can’t seem to use up, nutritional yeast, TVP, cornmeal and wheat germ

Second shelf: eggs, dried figs, hummus, sunflower butter, tahini, miso, canned mandarins, peanut butter and maple butter

Third shelf: pickles, beets, salsa, jam x 2, marmalade, maple syrup, juice x 3, soda x 3, non-alcoholic beer

Drawers: specialty cheese x 3 (Xmas and New Year’s), nice olives, tofu, oranges and clementines, lots of onions and parsnips (2-for-1 deals), red cabbage, radishes, sugar snap peas

Fridge door: milk x 2, dregs of 2 loaves of bread, butter x 2, lemon and lime juice squeezers, mustard x 3, sesame oil, pickles x 2, olives x 2, salad dressing x 4, chili sauce, ketchup, tiny bit of HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce (not used), chutney, pesto, sundried tomatoes, capers, jalapenos, red pepper jelly

Freezer compartment: (top shelf) blueberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, rhubarb, chick peas, kidney beans, pizza crust, leftover pancakes, ww bread, white and ww bread rolls (bottom shelf) peas, green beans, Brussels sprouts, squash, edamame, San Marzano tomatoes, leftovers, 1 ice cream bar from summer, (not shown) French fries, bananas for baking

The only things I haven’t shown you are on a shelf that holds tall bottles: olive oil and wine.

If you are vegetarian, how does this compare with the kind of things you buy? Does anyone else have a lot of separate items, shelves or areas for different members of the family?

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you my grocery haul and how much it cost!

PS From Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and The Carpenter:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”


  1. Of cabbages and kings…

    I actually remember that line from the John Wayne movie, Donovan’s Reef. 🙂

    I am a vegetarian; my husband is pescatarian. It doesn’t much effect the way we divide our cupboard space, but in the fridge and freezer it makes a difference. We got a new refrigerator about a year ago, and it has a two-tier drawer-style freezer area that is divided. The top “shelf” holds the ice and frozen foods we both eat. The lower compartments are divided into “his” and “mine” – no fishy foods allowed on my side!

  2. The walrus must be on his way over here! I just spat the dummy at the amount of food in our pantry and fridge. That’s it. No more buying until we use up some of this stuff.

    Your shelves, as I expected, are beautiful works of organisation.

    As to Marmite. Pfft. You may now progress onto the real stuff. Vegemite. Can’t stomach that Marmite stuff. But Vegemite! Ahh, it’s just what the doctor ordered when you have a tummy ache or a hang over.

  3. As to the candy shelf! Well, ours is bigger. Don’t feel guilty about yours or feel the need to justify. We love lollies (what we call sweets) and chocolate and bikkies. And the pantry must stock some of these at any one time. Often though the chocolates are ones given to us that we don’t like. Those sort hang around for ages.

    • I have a lot of gift candy too. My family knows what I like! If I run out of candy (which I make myself do sometimes), I will usually make up for it by overindulging in dried fruit or eating lots of salty snacks.

  4. Tina Lemna

    I love seeing what other people eat. It’s my favorite kind of post. We are vegetarian also, so our pantry and refrigerator is similar though we drink almond and soy milk and limit cheese and eggs to 2-3 times a month. Great post! Thank you.

  5. Fiona

    Seeing inside the fridge and pantry does a lot to convince me that it’s not impossible to consider being a vegetarian! It’s really similar to our house.

    While I was away I barely ate meat, for various practical reasons. Now I’m back home it just seems too rich to go back to as many meat-heavy dishes as I used to have.

    I am thrilled at the move to Marmite! 😀 Do they sell Vegemite in Canada? I struggle to go a day or two without Vegemite but I do buy Marmite if I get stuck and can’t buy Vegemite. And I think your sweet stash is very moderate! 😀

    • As far as veggie meals go, we always have a huge array of ingredients, but you can’t really look at a shelf of lentils and barley and say to yourself, Hmm, what will we have for dinner tonight? Especially when there is no expensive cut of meat in the fridge that needs to be cooked immediately. So I think it requires a bit more planning. Not a bad thing. Rice and quinoa can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen. I chop vegetables every day (and I love it – very “chop wood, carry water.”) I will try Vegemite at some point and let you know how I get on with it! My candy shelf has about 4 lb of candy 😮

  6. We buy fairly similar things I would say. Obviously no cheese etc for us but the sweetie shelf looks familiar and most of the dried foods and staples are the same.

    I don’t like Marmite “raw” but I love it when added to a stew or something like that, the richness is spot on. I do enjoy Marmite crisps though, they’re probably my favourite savoury treat.

    • I also love to use Marmite in spaghetti sauce and other things that need a burst of savoury. I use miso paste for that too. I haven’t developed a taste for Marmite chips (not available here) but I do kind of like Twiglets when I visit the UK!

  7. I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a couple of weeks now. I moved in May and there is one cupboard in the kitchen which is a bit bigger than the others and ended up becoming a bit of a catch-all space. Not helped by the fact that it’s quite deep and high. I think I’m almost there with deciding what the things are that are most suited to that space – things that I don’t use very often but that I wouldn’t mind climbing up on a chair to get at. I’m not vegetarian but my cupboards hold a very similar range of stuff. I do have fish fingers in the freezer though.
    By the way, if the exotic recipe is the dates and Turkish ewe’s cheese salad from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook, you should definitely make it. It’s fabulous. I generally just use ordinary feta and add loads more salad leaves. I kind of make this salad and use it as the dressing for a bigger salad, if you see what I mean.

    • Hi Moonwaves, Maybe the walrus will pay you an encouraging visit! I have a couple of kitchen shelves that are high and deep, and like you, I use them for things I don’t use often, like vases for flowers, carafes and cookie jars. I am not sure why I have multiples of each! The exotic recipe is a dip made with pureed kidney beans, walnuts, butter, garlic and pomegranate molasses. Now I want to try the Ottolenghi recipe, too!

  8. Oooh, that sounds good, too. I just checked and he actually has the recipe on his website as well:
    If you can get your hands on the book, though, it’s really great. The first cookbook I have that I have cooked multiple dishes from and recommended to several friends who have also cooked multiple dishes from it.

  9. jollyhollybanolly111

    I am in the process of trying to eat everything in the fridge/freezer/cupboard and then restocking – things are starting to get to the end of their sell by dates etc. I don’t stock up – just because we live in a city – but if we didn’t then I definitely would!

    • I like doing that, too. I need to pay more attention to the freezer. Just because I freeze something doesn’t mean it will last forever in there! Need to make a plan to actually eat that stuff within 3-6 months. A new goal!

  10. Margie in Toronto

    I had given the pantry and fridge a good clearcut before Christmas – but I have just re-0rganized my baking cabinet and restocked a lot of those items – replacing old items and stocking up on new. I have been trying to stick to a tight food budget this month (think I’ll be a few dollars over my intentions as there were some good buys this week) but February’s budget should be even smaller as the freezer (just the top of my fridge) is stuffed! I need to use up everything before I lose anything to freezer burn.
    So funny – I keep noticing those jars of Marmite at the grocery store – haven’t eaten it in years but used to love it on my toast for breakfast – my mother thought it was better for us than jams and I’ve always rather liked savoury rather than sweet in the morning. I’m putting it on the list.
    I am an omnivore but – find myself having more and more vegetarian meals – simply because I do enjoy them and frankly because meat and fish are so expensive! I tend to alternate throughout the week – had ham with eggs for breakfast yesterday but lunch was a mushroom and veggie wrap – yogurt and fruit for supper – and today has been a completely veggie day – not necessarily planned, just worked out that way!

    • Before we started eating vegetarian at home, all of my breakfasts and work lunches were vegetarian, and one or two evening meals a week, so it wasn’t hard to switch. I like the Marmite to add a wallop of savoury/bitter taste which is such a change from other things. (Also, I like coffee and olives and other bitter things in my adult life, so why not?) Good luck with your grocery budget overhaul!

  11. I think you could eat for a while on your stock cupboard items! Just been taking stock myself – fewer items in mine though. I dither between wanting to reduce the stock to economise and keeping enough in case we get snowed in. Its that January thing – economy versus common sense!

    • I have lots in stock – as long as we have power! (Quite a severe storm happening as I write). We have done well at using up the Christmas/New Year’s overstock, so now it’s back to normal.

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