I know you love Pinterest with all of it’s recipes and seemingly brilliant ideas for your kitchen. I know you pin things that you will never make and that you pin carb loaded foods that make you dig for that 5 month old Hershey kiss in the bottom of your purse. I know this, because I’ve been there too.
I pinned so many foods and tried so many recipes, but rarely felt like I would cook many of them again. One day last year, I discovered that my pantry was overrun with ingredients that I would most likely never use again - things like stale panko crumbs or whole wheat flour or a strange form of dried bean. I decided right then and there to create a Capsule Pantry.
What is a Capsule Pantry?
It’s a pantry that maintains only ingredients that are reasonable, widely useable, and that I enjoy both tasting and cooking.
Why is a Capsule Pantry useful?
It helps eliminate stress when choosing recipes because I now only use recipes that have ingredients that exist in my pantry. It reduces time with meal planning, grocery list making, and the actual shopping because I know what items I buy and what usually needs to be replenished. The capsule pantry also allows me to do more shopping in bulk and thus save money because I am spending less money over time.
How did I create a Capsule Pantry?
I singled out all of the one time ingredients and threw them away if they were expired, or worked hard to use them up quickly over the course of a few weeks. This saved money at the grocery and gave me a little extra money in my budget to spend on my first run to Costco to establish my capsule pantry.
Does the Capsule Pantry actually save time?
Yes! I enjoy the fact that capsule grocery shopping overall uses less brain space and takes up less time because in general, I am purchasing less items on each trip. This also allows me to be really good at cooking some foods instead of being mediocre at cooking many foods.
How did I fit bulk items in my tiny apartment pantry?
When I cleared out all of the unnecessary and excessive foods, I had tons of room for bulk food!
What is the real difference between bulk stores and my grocery store?
I’ve found that in general, I tend to be able to purchase more of the same item at Costco at an equivalent or slightly lower cost than my grocery store. For example, one 20 oz squeeze jar of Mayonnaise at my local grocery runs about $3.50 while a package of two 25 oz squeeze jars of mayonaise at Costco runs about $6.99. Also, a massive bag of Chex Mix is $4.99 at Costco, while a 16 oz bag is $2.50+ at my grocery.
Since it is just Robert and I in our home, it isn’t beneficial to buy products with quick expirations like milk and eggs at Costco. We do eat a lot of produce, so I will often purchase that at Costco. However, I always check expiration dates on produce to make sure we can consume it before it goes bad!
How did I determine which types of foods to keep in my Capsule Pantry?
I mainly wanted to keep foods that would allow me to make things myself. For instance, I stocked up on baking supplies and got rid of pre-made mixes. I also bought chicken broth and canned tomatoes in bulk so that I could make more soups instead of having various cans of canned soups around.
Are you going to share what’s in your pantry?
Yes! Just beware that my pantry might not look like yours. However, feel free to use my list to brainstorm what you want to be in your pantry or even copy it and then fill in the gaps with what’s missing from your most loved ingredients!
Dried & Shelf-Stable Foods:
- Cocoa powder
- 1-2 types of candy
- Dark chocolate
- 1 type of pre-made cookie
- 2 types of rice
- Baking powder
- Brown Sugar
- Powdered Sugar
- Baking Soda
- Various spices
- Olive Oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Spaghetti noodles
- 2 types of crackers
- 2 types of cereal
- BBQ sauce
- 1 salad dressing
- Corn chips
- Peanut butter
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Canned chicken broth
- Canned black beans
- Canned rotel
- Out of season berries
- Green beans
- Peppers or mini peppers
- Sliced apples
- Mini carrots
- Sweet potatoes
- In-season berries
Fridge & Freezer:
- Sour Cream
- Lunch meat & cheese (Note: tons of people buy these at Costco. I simply prefer the freshly sliced meats & cheeses!)
- Shredded cheeses
- Ground Beef
- Pork Loin
- Izze or la croix
(Note: I freeze the excess of butters, meats, and cheeses!)