When funds are low...or you have company coming at the last minute...or you just got home and supper's due in a half-hour or so...a pantry can save your patootie over and over.
I thought about this after reading Cheap Healthy Good's take on the subject. (She's restocking after her recent move.) Her post includes links to other pantry pundits, as well.
What stays in my pantry? Spices are critical -- salt, peppercorns (ready-ground is a tad boring), garlic, chili powder...and the baking and green soup/stew spices. (A couple jars of salsa, salsa verde and steak sauce are essential, too.) Then comes the baking stuff -- dry milk, pancake mix, flour (white, wheat), cornmeal, sugar (brown and white), chocolate chips (Ghiradhelli's best). And the main course stuff -- rice (balsamic, white and brown), noodles, pasta, mashed potato flakes. Canned stuff's important -- diced tomatoes, soup, mushrooms, ravioli, applesauce, mandarin orange sections, tuna, oysters, crabmeat (if it's not too expensive)...and one can of corned beef and/or corned beef hash. Finally, some ready-mix-at-the-last-minute stuff: a few boxes of cornbread mix, Hamburger helper, macaroni & cheese, potato or rice side dishes.
New pantry essentials that I never grew up with, but are hooked on, nonetheless: green curry sauce (I'd kill for a jar or two of Trader Joe's brand), and a few batches of nasi goreng, that Indonesian spice mix that makes a simple meat/rice dish amazing. A friend brought back a jar of Hawaiian spices that are great with grilled stuff -- so is the jar of Kansas City-style spice dry rub that keeps a regular place on my stove back. (I'm crazy about the "Best Blend" mix, too.)
With the contents of the freezer, we could go for a long time without a visit to the grocery store.
Here's a week's worth of recipes, using pantry items...and just a little time.