What’s In the Pantry?


While I leave some cookie dough to chill in the fridge, I thought I would write a little post for baking and cooking newbies. I’m pretty new to all this myself, so all the times I’ve been unprepared for a new recipe are fresh in my mind! I will try to post next about food prep itself, something that could save you a lot of frustration and wasted time. For now, this is only a short shopping list compared to some you’ll find in housekeeping books and chef’s websites, mainly because I don’t have the space or money to run a small commercial kitchen! At some point you should pick up a Mrs. Beeton’s book; she will one day become your kitchen goddess for all things homely.

These are some items that you should have in store if you plan to make most of your food at home, and how best to keep them. Please do comment if you think I’m missing something, I’ve only written this up in about 10 mins! I am shying away from exact amounts because everyone’s storage space is different, and packaging is made to help you decide what will fit in your space. As a rough guide, I go for the largest sizes and my storage area is 1 top cupboard, 1 small British fridge, and 1 freezer shelf.

Keep the following in airtight containers, preferably behind a fully-closed door and away from heat and moisture

  • Plain & Self-Raising Flour – top these up on a weekly basis if you’re doing a lot of baking, they are necessary for almost any recipe
  • Caster Sugar – again, in large quantities as this tends to get double use in coffees and teas
  • Soft Brown Sugar & Dark Brown Sugar (aka Muscovado) – these can be kept in their original bags (sealed with an adhesive or a clip) and you probably won’t be using these quite as often, or in such large quantities
  • Icing Sugar – also known as confectioner’s sugar, you will need to keep this in similar amounts to flour
  • Baking Soda & Baking Powder – these usually come in easily sealed little packages, and at least one if not both of them are used in any baking recipe
  • Salt  – soft and fine, keeping a lot in store will last you forever
  • Vanilla – since using this high quality Taylor & Colledge brand, I don’t think I could ever use a generic brand again; makes all the difference, really
  • Chocolate Chips or Cooking Chocolate Bars – trust me, handy for so many things and at least 2-3 cups should always be ready for use (that and they get picked at so often >.>)
  • Cocoa (unsweetened) – you don’t need to store too much, unless of course you or someone living with you is a hot chocolate worshipper, in which case keep 1 full tin at any time
  • Golden Syrup or Corn Syrup – either of these will make do for a similar use, though you don’t need to store more than a medium tin as typically only 1 tablespoon or 2 is needed at a time

Keep in the Refrigerator

  • Butter – if you have the perfect, separate dairy room then you can go old-style and keep the butter in there; likely you don’t, so to keep the butter turning greasy in a warm kitchen, keep it chilled until about 30mins to 1hr before use (and only take out what you need)
  • Eggs – again, if you live in a restored, beautiful old farmhouse with the perfect place for eggs then fine – otherwise you will just end up smashing them with things as you rummage through the pantry, or send them rolling maniacally across the kitchen

Keep in the Freezer

  • Pastry – either homemade that you want to store or bought in rolls from the supermarket’s frozen section (I don’t use these frequently enough to keep them in the fridge, so I just freeze them)
  • Summer Fruits – these usually come in a 5-10 oz bag and can provide delicious substance to any number of puddings (desserts for North Americans 🙂


  • UHT/Long-life Whole Milk (small boxes) – don’t tell anyone that you use this of course, but if you’re in dire need of some room temp milk to cream up some muffins or mix a batch of icing then pour some of this stuff in (no one has ever known when I use it) – just be sure to refrigerate after opening and throw away before the end date
  • Washing up sponges – these are ideal for really bad splatters that have raw egg in them, especially if you live in a warm climate and are terrified of bacteria; drizzle some anti-bacterial washing up liquid on the surface, swipe up thoroughly with a damp sponge and dispose immediately (obviously, try not to splatter and waste your money on these too much)
  • Measuring spoons – get as wide an array as possible as you can stack these; and finding ones marked with multiple measurements is really time-saving
  • Set of glass mixing bowls – I say glass because some recipes require a perfectly clean bowl, and plastic tends to absorb stains over time; a set of 3 will be fine to startspatula
  • Mixing spatula – I’ve got a real humdinger with a curved wooden handle, look!
  • Ice cream scoop -preferably one with a swiper in it, this is essential for getting just the right amounts of muffin mixture into the tin
  • Electric mixer – like me, you may have to save up for one of these or guilt a loved on into buying it for you but ohhh will you need this at some point; a couple failed attempts at hand-whisking a meringue or some whipped cream will have you throwing sloppy mess at the TV chefs who say “whisking by hand will do just as well!!” Liars.

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