How to Stock Your Post-Baby Pantry, Refrigerator, and Freezer

Almost any meal can be made from the pantry and no one will suffer any ill effects from lacking something "fresh." By all means supplement with fresh fruits and vegetables as a usual course of preparation, but if you can't get to the store, your pantry will see you through just fine.

Even the most experienced of hostesses can get a little unnerved by short-notice or drop-in guests. And then there are life's constant curves in the road that can thwart our best intentions. There's nothing like an unexpected visit to the pediatrician or even an unexpected phone call to throw the best plan into a tailspin. Anticipating these curves and a well-stocked pantry can see you through.

Use this pantry list as a guide for making your own pantry list. Storage may be an issue in your kitchen, so you may want to look at some nontraditional areas around the house to store some extras. At a minimum, keep enough on hand for a few meals and surprise guests and you'll be well on your way to staying ahead of the "what's-for-dinner" game.

Pantry Stock

___ Assorted dried pastas

___ Assorted grains (brown rice, white rice, couscous, grits, cornmeal)

___ Dried lentils

___ Canned beans (lentils, black beans, white beans, chickpeas)

___ Canned/bottled vegetables (roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, marinated artichoke hearts, corn, beets, mushrooms, water chestnuts, sun-dried tomatoes)

___ Canned fruits (peaches, pears, pineapple, mandarin oranges, cherries, applesauce, pumpkin)

___ Canned tomatoes (diced, stewed, crushed)

___ Cans/cartons stock or broth (chicken, beef, and vegetable)

___ Marinara and pasta sauces

___ Salsa

___ Canned fish (tuna, salmon, clams)

___ Cans/jars olives (Spanish, black, Kalamata) and capers

___ Canned/dried soups and ramen noodles

___ Cooking spray

___ Oils (olive, canola, vegetable, sesame)

___ Vinegar (distilled white, white/red wine, balsamic)

___ Bottled salad dressings

___ Bottled marinades

___ Condiments (soy sauce or tamari, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, chili sauce, barbecue sauce, mustards, jellies, jams, preserves, chutneys)

___ Peanut butter

___ Assorted breads, crackers, pita/bagel chips, potato chips, tortilla chips, breadsticks

___ Assorted nuts (peanuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, salted mixed nuts)

___ Dried fruits (raisins, prunes, mixed diced fruits)

___ Canned milk (evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk)

___ Honey

___ Baking supplies (all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, cake mixes, salt, baking soda, baking powder)

___ Dried herbs and spices

Fridge & Freezer


___ Butter and margarine

___ Cheeses (assorted shredded, grated, cubed cheeses; Parmesan cheese)

___ Salad mixes (bagged salads, slaw, fresh baby spinach)

___ Precut or ready-to-eat vegetables (baby carrots, cherry/grape tomatoes, celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower florets, baking potatoes)

___ Precut or ready-to-eat fruits (grapes, plums, apples, berries, precut melon, pineapple, citrus)

___ Eggs and cartons of egg substitute

___ Prepared pesto sauce, hummus, guacamole, and dips

___ Refrigerated biscuit and pizza dough and pie crusts

___ Flour tortillas

___ Meats (precooked chicken, ham steaks, cold cuts)

___ Tofu

___ Bottled minced and chopped garlic

___ Lemon juice and lime juice

___ Sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and salad dressing

___ Cooking wines (dry white/red wines, sherry, vermouth, Madeira)

___ Bread machine yeast

___ Fresh herbs


___ Frozen chopped onions

___ Frozen vegetables (spinach, green beans, broccoli, squash, peas, bell peppers)

___ Frozen fruits (peaches, berries, cherries)

___ Frozen pasta (tortellini, ravioli)

___ Pie crusts

___ Flour tortillas

___ Frozen meatballs, chicken tenders, peeled and deveined shrimp

Cynthia Stevens Graubart is an author and former television producer living in Atlanta, Georgia. Catherine Fliegel is a registered nurse and certified childbirth educator living in New City, New York. Reprinted from The One-Armed Cook. Copyright 2004 by Cynthia Stevens Graubart and Catherine Fliegel, RN, CCE. All rights reserved.

Updated by Catherine Fliegel, RN, CCE
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