Your Pantry is the Key to Living GFE

This post is linked to 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free LivingGluten-Free Wednesdays, and Sharing Sunday.

By pantry, I mean any place where food is stored–whether it is the traditional pantry (my own is shown later in this post), kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, freezer (the one that’s part of your refrigerator and/or a separate one), spice rack/cabinet, wine rack, or even baskets. We’ll collectively refer to wherever you keep food on hand as your pantry. Your pantry doesn’t even have to be in the kitchen. If you have a small kitchen space, your pantry might be that closet in the hall or a corner cabinet. Whatever works is fine. The important thing is that you have at least a stockpile of food items that you can “call upon” for meals. Good cooks have been praising the merits of a well-stocked pantry for centuries, back when it was called a “larder” (which incidentally is derived from lord, not lard). Remember living gluten free easily (gfe), not just gf, is about focusing on eating real foods with some mainstream foods in the mix, but few gluten-free specialty items needed. Today I’m happy to take part in 30 Days to Easy Gluten-Free Living. Led by real-food-and-living-easy-gluten-free advocate Diane Eblin (The W.H.O.L.E Gang), over 30 bloggers are giving you tips to live gluten free easily. Our goal is to kick those repeated assertions that living gluten free is difficult to the curb once and for all. Once we shift our perspectives and approaches, living gluten free really can become second nature and easy.

So how does one’s pantry play a role in easy gluten-free living? Well, once you figure out the key components to your family’s favorite gluten-free meals and have them on hand by keeping your pantry stocked, well, meals can come together in “short order.”

In my gfe’s tip sheets on my sidebar, you’ll find The gfe pantry. It’s a handy reference sheet that may help you decide what needs to go into your own pantry. (You can even create your own sheet and use it for meal planning and grocery shopping.) Here’s a counterclockwise tour around my own kitchen right now. But first let me emphasize a very important point … I’m not sharing any of this information because the contents of my pantry are special, but rather because the contents really are not special or unique. These are basic foods and some “every day” food items that meet my family’s basic needs and allow me to prepare a variety of simple, safe, and tasty gluten-free meals that fit the gfe approach. Again, you’ll want to come up with items that work for your collective pantry.

Fruit basket on counter – Mine is always full of apples (I keep one at work, too. I usually fill these baskets about once every 2 weeks.) There are different varieties of apples in my basket and sometimes other fruit makes it in, but apples are my standby fruit. Apples are great snacks by themselves, make wonderful sweetener for smoothies, have a starring role in certain baked goods (like Crustless Apple Pie), and can be used in savory dishes, too. Our bananas usually just sit on the counter, ready to be made into Pina “Greena” Coladas or Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies.

My traditional pantry

Top shelf: Alcohol and mixers including the usual spirits, cooking wine, sherry, lime juice, grenadine, etc. While I love a good cocktail (it will soon be time for Crab Claws!), I often like using a tiny bit of alcohol to add special panache when creating recipes. The following recipes demonstrate that very nicely.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream 

Honey Cinnamon Grand Marnier Ice Cream

Banana Kahlua Coconut Cake

Second shelf: Candy lovers may recognize the large red bins that I have given new purpose to. These hold not only cupcake liners, toothpicks, and assorted sprinkles, but also special memories from  a special grandfather. And you can see some other baking helpers and sweeteners. There’s granulated sugar, brown sugar, palm sugar, date sugar, yacon syrup, stevia, citrus oils, applesauce, gelatin, pudding, and quinoa flakes. I’m currently out of certified gluten-free oats (the only kind I use), but I store those here, too.

Third shelf: There you’ll see some of my special flours and starches, most of which I purchase at my local international grocery store. There’s my standard gluten-free flour mix of Asian white rice flour and cornstarch (already mixed and in a storage container). There’s tapioca starch/flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca pearls, and cornmeal. There’s also unopened coconut flour. (The opened bag is in the refrigerator along with my almond flour.) There are a variety of oils, including olive, grapeseed, hemp, and avocado (the latter two being freebies and not ones I’d typically have on hand). There’s rice (a few kinds) and confectioner’s sugar. There are Asian rice sticks (quick and easy noodles) and Tinkyada pasta. There’s evaporated milk, taco shells, and onions. There are several staples:  Worcestershire, barbecue, and chili sauces (ensure that all are gluten free), and balsamic vinegar. There’s yeast that a support group member gave me because they expect me to do some bread baking. Hmmm. I actually prefer non-yeast breads or quick breads (like pumpkin and chocolate zucchini). The yeast is still good, but I’ve had it a while now. Plus my basket full of yellow onions is on this shelf at the moment.

Fourth shelf: A basket on the left contains some sweet potatoes. Another repurposed bin houses chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. I have walnuts, pecans, tuna, water chestnuts, coconut oil, peanut butter, crushed pineapple, coconut milk, diced tomatoes, canned beans, and even some canned peas (yep, shocking, but I grew up with them and like them, but we also use fresh and frozen peas, too).

Bottom shelf and floor: There’s my basket of russet potatoes far away from the onions (remember that onions and potatoes are not supposed to be stored together). There’s apple cider vinegar (a must for many dishes including savory and sweet). The big white buckets (food grade) house our bees’ honey. The Trader Joe’s bag is full of packages of Asian white rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. This supply is a “backup” for me, but I also give support group members some of each to get them started baking gluten free. Last, as you can see, there are also non-food items like parchment paper, freezer wrap, plastic wrap, etc. in my pantry.

My spice cabinet – It mostly speaks for itself, but I keep my homemade vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, spices, and seasonings here. All play a critical role in so much of my cooking and baking.

My refrigerator – Oh, this spot is the “mother lode” at our house and the contents change frequently. What seems to take up the most room there at the moment is greens and other fresh fruits and veggies; e.g., spinach, romaine, mixed greens, cabbage, cole slaw greens mix, artichokes, cucumbers, cilantro, lemons, limes, and Iceberg for Mr. GFE’s sandwiches. I have a door full of condiments and small jars like most everyone else. There’s Better than Bouillon, pickle relish, green tomato relish, hot sauce, bottled garlic, gluten-free soy sauce (La Choy), maple syrup, mustard (several kinds), mayo, and wine. Mr. GFE has dairy milk and I have almond milk. The refrigerator drawers house butter, hard cheese, cream cheese, assorted sliced cheese, corn tortillas, coconut, dried cranberries, and carrots. We also keep a supply of V-8 and coconut water, plus Mr. GFE’s (gluten-full) beer. Oh, and of course, I always have plenty of eggs … preferably from my friends’ chickens for so many baked goods and the basis of whole meals via assorted frittatas and quiches.

Freezer above refrigerator – I always store my leftover bits of chicken, beef, and such in my Everything Soup container. Another container stockpiles leftover bits of meatballs, taco meat, meat sauce for spaghetti, and the like for chili later. Packages of meats and seafood (like BOGO shrimp) that I plan to use in the near future also get stored here. There are bags of frozen veggies and leftover bounty from last summer like shredded zucchini. Next to the black-eyed peas is the ham bone from Easter dinner (soon to become a version of this soup). And the large wrapped container is the tub for my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Chicken livers and catfish (we trade our friend Jack venison for catfish) can be seen in the door.

Upright freezer – Lots of meat and seafood—venison, chicken, goat (a gift), shrimp, catfish, and other “overflow” frozen foods—are stored here. This freezer is almost always full.

Snack basket — This spot is Mr. GFE’s favorite! Here you’ll find tortilla chips, potato chips, and pretzels … when we have them in the house. I do like it when we’ve indulged in potato chips and get to the bottom of the bag because that’s usually when I make these chicken nuggets.

I really like to think of my pantry as my own personal food bank. On any given day, I can almost always pull just a few ingredients from my collective pantry and come up with wonderful recipes and meals. Also on my sidebar under gfe’s tip sheets you’ll find 50+ meals that are gfe and 50 gfe sweet treats. Both will give you ideas to get started with easy gluten-free living. As I said, with a well-stocked pantry, I can make almost any of these meals or treats any time! Okay, here’s a confession … I’m not a meal planner, unlike many of my lovely gluten-free friends (e.g., Heather (Celiac Family), but having a well-stocked pantry allows me to survive and thrive for easy gluten-free living. :-)

Soon, I’ll share two meals that I make with no planning at all, just from a few ingredients in my pantry … so stay tuned! Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers and their posts; you can see a complete listing here. Yesterday, Wendy (Celiacs in the House) shared Fast Food for Gluten Free Teens. Tomorrow, Nancy (The Sensitive Pantry) shares BBQ and Picnic Tips (as well as a recipe). Thursday, Heidi (Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom) shares Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Healthy, Real-Food Snacks! Friday, Silvana (Silvana’s Kitchen) shares Everything I’ve Learned So Far about Gluten-Free (plus a recipe!). This truly helpful event goes on until the end of the month and I know you won’t want to miss a post, so, again, be sure to check out all the links here. Oh, and if you missed my earlier musings on not limiting one’s self when gluten free, a post that also included a giveaway of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, check that out here!

Shirley
Not just gf, but gfe!

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Comments

75 Responses to “Your Pantry is the Key to Living GFE”

  1. The Celiac Husband on May 17th, 2011 7:27 am

    I am impressed. So organized.
    Very nice.
    However, I would lower the top shelf contents for purely logistical reasons.
    I am getting fairly wobbly after my third Gin & Tonic and would not trust myself to reach so high for the bottles to mix another…..

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 7:40 am

      Peter–Thanks, my dear friend! Of course, I did some “straightening” before I took this photo. Sharing one’s pantry is a bit scary! Understand the sentiment about the top shelf and chuckling appreciatively, but one can always remove the desired bottles from said shelf and leave on counter until the next day. ;-) I have done that, but rarely. Maybe using the top shelf method keeps one from going too overboard. I will tell you that for our parties, the alcohol is all set up nicely on the counter and definitely does not get put back until the next day! LOL

      Shirley

  2. Ricki on May 17th, 2011 8:02 am

    Okay, I want YOUR pantry! Mine looks like utter chaos in comparison to this! Great tips, too. Thanks for this tutorial and inspiration, Shirley! :)

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:11 pm

      Hi Ricki–I purge, clean, and organize and over time my pantry slides back to its original state, which is not nearly this photogenic. ;-) I do like using baskets and bins in my pantry and that definitely helps with the organization.

      Thanks so much, Ricki!
      Shirley

  3. Kay Guest on May 17th, 2011 8:09 am

    Hey Shirley! How very generous to share photos of your pantry, fridge and freezer to help folks out!
    Your little freezer looks just like mine! (Don’t have an upright freezer, but luckily, I get some good stuff from my Dad’s!) Can’t decide which I like more…your honey on the bottom shelf or the alcohol on the top shelf. Cheers! Love from the Captain. :-) Kay

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:19 pm

      Thanks, Kay, uh I mean captain. ;-) Hmmm, honey or alcohol … tough choice for sure. :-)

      Shirley

  4. Heather @CeliacFamily on May 17th, 2011 8:44 am

    Thanks for sharing your pantry (and tips) with us. I do find meal planning helpful for me, but I rely on a well-stocked pantry, too. Because some days the plan doesn’t always work out. Gotta have a backup plan. :)

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:28 pm

      Hi Heather–Thanks so much for your input on the importance of meal planning, the well-stocked pantry, and plan B! :-)

      Shirley

  5. Linda on May 17th, 2011 9:03 am

    I typed a comment then made a wrong click and lost it. Ah, well. I enjoyed the pictures and am jealous of your closet type pantry which I don’t have. Great post for showing that you don’t need to buy a lot of specialty products to eat gf, but a well stocked pantry is important.

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:34 pm

      Hi Linda–Oh gosh, I hate when that happens and while in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t happen often, it still happens too much. :-(

      Thanks for the feedback, Linda! I guess I take my closet pantry for granted a bit. I had a walk-in pantry one time … that was pretty nice, too. ;-)

      Shirley

  6. Tina @madame gluten-free vegetarian on May 17th, 2011 9:49 am

    Shirley,

    I’ve got my potatoes in a basket that looks just like yours! Setting up a gluten-free pantry is an essential ingredient to success. It can be overwhelming at first, having to go through all your products and throw things out. But I never felt so refreshed when it was all gone! There’s something so reassuring about opening your pantry and knowing all of it is safe. *sigh* It’s a small thing, but it makes me happy. Thanks for sharing yours with us. :) Tina.

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:43 pm

      Hey Tina–Yes, even now I remember going through my pantry and pulling stuff out for the area food bank. First, I did it for gluten and then dairy, soy, etc. I agree it’s a good feeling when it’s done though. Since we are all under a major learning curve initially, it’s important to get rid of this stuff quickly.

      Thanks, dear!
      Shirley

  7. Heidi @adventuresofaglutenfreemom.com on May 17th, 2011 9:56 am

    Wonderful post Shirley!!! You are one brave soul to share photos of your pantry and I’m so glad you did…you’ve given me incentive to organize mine, LOL!

    I learned something new in your post…I had no idea that you are not supposed to store potatoes and onions near each other! I’ve always done that, is that why my onions and potatoes begin to sprout quickly?

    xo,
    Heidi

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 9:52 pm

      Hey Heidi–I was only brave after I did some quick “purging” and, uh, “straightening” (yeah, that’s the ticket!) in the pantry. If you come check out my pantry in a week or two, it may resemble this photo, but be quite different. ;-) But the point is to show you what’s in my pantry, right? And I can’t do that well if everything is all jumbled together.

      As far as the potatoe and onions discusssion, this link states “Avoid storing potatoes with onions because, when close together, they produce gases that spoil both.” I’ve also read that they both have enzymes that cause them to go bad quickly. And I’ve read: “The onions absorb the moisture of the potatoes causing them to sprout and rot!” Other bloggers have shared this info before, too. I’m pretty sure Diane has mentioned it in one of her posts. And yes, sprouting and just “going downhill” quickly are effects of them being stored together.

      Thanks so much! xo,
      Shirley

  8. glutenfreeforgood on May 17th, 2011 9:58 am

    Great post and I’m so impressed that you had the nerve to take photos of the inside of your pantry and fridge. I must ask, did you shuffle things around and tidy it up before the photo shoot? I’d have to spend a couple of days organizing things before I dared to capture the contents on film and then put it on the internet! =)

    I loved Peter’s comment about the “bar” shelf being too high for tipsy bartenders.

    Love the apple photo. What kind are those? They’re gorgeous.

    You’re so right, a stocked pantry is the key to living gluten free easily! I have an extra fridge in the garage full of my flours and grains, but I’m moving away from all the flour blending and am leaning more and more towards making everything with Pamela’s mix. Although I do like the addition of some personality in the way of mesquite or coconut flour. And I love my timtana, but I use that one as a “robust personality” flour. It’s from Montana and it tastes like it. Big Sky Country flour! Cowboy flour. =) But I do like the ease of the mixes. I’ve been doing this for so long that I’m kind of “over” blending starches, flours and gums. There are some good options out there now. Lucky for us!

    Good one, Shirley!
    Melissa

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:43 am

      Hi Melissa–Well, yes, of course, I did some tidying up. ;-) No shuffling really though. And one can do a lot of tidying quickly when a photo shoot is imminent … even if the one is THE photographer. LOL I’m sure that an organizational expert would make other changes, like say that all baking supplies need to be together, so my chocolate and nuts should be with the flours, etc. However, this layout has been working for me for years, so why change now? I actually plan to update this post later and share some more photos so folks can get a better idea when they check out this pantry post later. So I’ll add a refrigerator pic and an upright freezer pic.

      Peter is always very astute in his observations. :-)

      I’m pretty sure those apple were red delicious, but they do look a little rounder, so I’m not 100% sure. That’s an older photo I pulled from the archives. I do love it though!

      I’m so jealous of your extra fridge. I need one for entertaining and for all my greens and other produce. The fridge is one place I coud actually use the services of an organizational expert. ;-) A lot of folks do like Pamela’s mix. I can’t do the Montina flour so I suspect I might have an issue with Timtana, too, but I’d love to try mesquite one day. Thanks for sharing your alternative flour info with us all!

      xoxo,
      Shirley

  9. AndreAnna on May 17th, 2011 10:11 am

    Great post! I would take a photo of my pantry shelves but fear no one would be able to discern actual items. Between the two small kids and being a recipe developer, I’ve got a huge rack stacked to the top and the only map to things is in my head. My husband doesn’t even bother looking for things any more, he just asks me to get them for him!

    And it’s funny you mention apples because that’s one thing we ALWAYS have plenty of – you just can’t say you don’t have a healthy snack on hand ever!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:59 pm

      AndreAnna–Thank you! You should know that even when my pantry is organized, my hubby still asks where everything is. LOL I love apples! Did you know that apples have been known to be as effective as caffeine for waking one up? That’s why I keep them in the car, too. If feeling a tad sleepy, eat an apple! They’re amazingly effective. :-) The best thing about this post is that I was the one in control as to when the photos got taken … no “before” pics here. ;-) The idea was to show what can be in a pantry, not how pretty mine is, but that couldn’t be done before I did some “straightening.”

      Shirley

  10. Alta on May 17th, 2011 10:14 am

    Shirley, I love this post! One day I need to share what’s in my pantry too – it’s just as full (but decidedly less organized) than yours. Your liquor and drink mixing stock is decidedly more complete than ours – I think I might have a bottle of gin and some rum, some sherry and vermouth, but that’s about it! Ours is on the top shelf too though!
    I am a meal planner, but only consistently M-F and dinners. I buy other items for breakfasts and lunches, but often I “forget” about the weekends, as our schedules sometimes aren’t conducive to having a meal plan. This is where that stocked pantry is key! I actually keep an (not super-accurate, but relatively so) inventory spreadsheet of what I have on hand, so I can glance at it when making meal and grocery plans. I like having it both ways – having the meal plan for when my brain doesn’t want to think, and a well-stocked pantry for when I feel the creative juices flowing!
    Other random question – where do you buy your yacon syrup? I’ve never tried it, and am curious. Whole Foods doesn’t carry it here, and I could order it through a bulk grocery ordering some of the homeschooling moms organize here in my area (Azure Standard is who they use), but it’s around $20 a bottle!
    Thanks for this post, Shirley!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:51 am

      Hi Alta–Thank you, dear! I didn’t end up sharing all the info I originally wanted to in this post, but it was already too long (classic gfe problem!). So I might end up doing an occasional series on recipes that you can pull together quickly from ingredients in one’s pantry … what do you think?

      Yes, we have an extensive liquor selection … most of the time. Especially since Son has decided he mostly does not like alcohol, except for certain hard ciders. ;-)

      I’m glad you’ve found a system that works for you. My meal planning is in my head and is sometimes done a day ahead or if a craving hits me. But I tend to informally plan around what we have on hand (and often my “planning” is that day, even that hour!), what’s on sale at stock-up prices, etc. I just don’t map it out like many of you do.

      This yaco syrup came from iHerb. I used some of my affiliate earnings (about $20 so far) to get a few things. Ricki says that if you don’t have to use yacon syrup, molasses is a good less expensive alternative. So far, I’ve only used yacon to make Ricki’s recipes. I like it. iHerb’s price is about $10 a bottle. FYI, you can get $5 off your order by using my affiliate link on my sidebar. Note that a bottle can last a while … in my experience anyway.

      Happy Wednesday, Alta!
      Shirley

  11. Debi on May 17th, 2011 10:53 am

    Way awesome, Shirley! Showing us all again how easy it is to be gfe! It makes me want to reorganize my little pantry in the kitchen since it’s so messy right now. But, one thing at a time. lol :D

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:54 am

      Debi–Thank you, my friend. :-) Hope it does help folks! My pantry did look messy when I started out getting ready to take the photo. It was actually surprising how quickly I was able to straighten it. Really, it only took a few minutes … maybe 10 or 15. But that’s often the case when it comes to cleaning, decluttering, etc. It takes soooo much longer in our minds. ;-) I find Nike’s advice works best for such tasks … just do it!

      xo,
      Shirley

  12. Alisa Fleming on May 17th, 2011 11:23 am

    Love your organization Shirley! I really miss having a pantry, and definitely need to get a separate freezer so we can buy some meat direct.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:58 am

      Thanks, Alisa! A pantry is a nice thing for sure, but I’m sure you do great with your organizing, too. You’re very organized! A separate freezer has been a blessing for many, many years. Chest freezers are usually advised for efficiency, but we have an upright now that is about the size of a standard refrigerator and it adds so little to our electric bill. I love having my stockpile of meats, etc. at hand. I know you will, too, when you get a separate freezer.

      Shirley

  13. Wendy @ Celiacs in the House on May 17th, 2011 11:54 am

    You’ve packed this post full of great tips! A well-stocked pantry truly is the one essential for making gluten-free eating easy.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 10:01 am

      Hi Wendy–Thanks so much! I had to get a lot in to follow your great post on Fast Food for Teens! Seriously. Love the response that’s gotten! Really great tips for all, not just teens. :-)

      Will be thinking of you girls at Eat Write Retreat this weekend! Hope you have a blast!
      Shirley

  14. Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) on May 17th, 2011 12:23 pm

    Holy moly! So stinking impressive. I love everything about this post and all of the tips you include. I am in awe of those shelves though, regardless of when they got so tidy and organized looking!! :) Umm… I might say that my favorite shelf is that top one though. LOL And my mom had always told me about not storing potatoes and onions together, so I have always kept them separate too. I just did it though because she said so, not because I was ever really sure if that was right. Now I know that it was smart to listen to MOM! Thanks for sharing all of this today, Shirley! I think you just might have inspired a lot of people to go and organize those pantries!
    xo
    k

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 10:04 am

      Kim–You are super sweet as always–thank you, my dear! Too funny on the top shelf. It’s hard to resist all those pretty shiny bottles, isn’t it? You should see me in the liquor store … I want one of everything. LOL, but trueeee.

      It’s good you listened to mom! And organizing one’s pantry is so easy. :-) I like opening those doors more than ever now. ;-)

      xoxo,
      Shirley

  15. Megan on May 17th, 2011 4:16 pm

    Great tips Shirley. I wish I was as organized as you! I recently went through mine and found all kinds of food I didn’t know I had. It pays to be organized! Looking forward to your upcoming posts about easy pantry meals!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 10:10 am

      Hey Megan–Thanks so much! It sounds like you are getting organized for sure. :-) I have to confess I was shocked to find one sealed container of all-purpose, wheat flour! It was in the far back corner of one shelf. I was shocked as I’ve been gluten free for almost 8 years now! I could tell by the look and smell that is was “regular” flour. It took me a few minutes to remember why I had it. We used to make a special mix of peanut butter, birdseed, sunflower seeds, and cornmeal that went into hollowed out log bird feeders. I had planned to use the flour in that mix instead of cornmeal. LOL But the old flour went into the trash and I was careful to dump gently and cover my face when I did. And yes, the bag was sealed immediately for disposal. So, see I am not the perfect pantry keeper. LOL

      Maybe you’ll inspire me to do an ongoing series on easy pantry meals! I actually cook that way most of the time. :-)

      Shirley

  16. Nance on May 17th, 2011 5:40 pm

    Honey, I’ll be right over for drinks. Oh, and you’re low on potatoes.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 10:13 am

      I’ll chill the glasses, Nance. I know how you like a good martini! That’s not my specialty (at least not the serious kind you like!), but I’ll learn for you.

      Yep, potatoes are on my shopping list, but must use these up first. Might make some ultimate oven fries before it gets too stinking hot. ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Nance. Not much more time at The Rock for you this year … before that deliriously delightful thing called summer break–woohoo! :-)

      Shirley

  17. Maggie on May 17th, 2011 8:29 pm

    Okay I’m with Heidi :) Why can’t we store our potatoes and onions together!?! I am envious of your pantry Shirley. I’ve got things stashed all over my kitchen. There is some method to it but no one else would be able to figure it out :) Thanks for sharing. xo

    • Shirley on May 17th, 2011 10:03 pm

      Hi Maggie-First, please read my reply to Heidi on why you can’s store potatoes and onions together. A pantry is a bit of a luxury for sure. My own groupings don’t make perfect sense either. Just do what feels right and works for you. :-)

      xoxo,
      Shirley

  18. Gigi on May 17th, 2011 9:18 pm

    Shirley,

    I love this post, and I know that it will be so helpful to so many (especially those just starting out!) that I’m about to pass along this link to several folks that I know will want to read this.

    You always do such an amazing job of presenting information in a clear, user-friendly format – it’s just great! :)

    xo,
    Gigi

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:26 pm

      Hi Gigi–You’re such a sweetheart with your kind words and being willing to share my post with others—thank you!

      xo,
      Shirley

  19. Ina Gawne on May 17th, 2011 10:13 pm

    Shirley – your pantry looks great. I have a similar system…although…ahemmm….mine is not quite so neat! Love yours! :)

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:29 pm

      Ina–I bet your pantry is very similar to my “before” photo! Not that I took one … LOL, but you know what I mean. ;-) Nothing like a photo op to make one straighten a bit! My pantry is everchanging with ingredients in one way, but always much the same in another.

      Thanks so much for always taking the time to comment, Ina!
      Shirley

  20. InTolerantChef on May 18th, 2011 7:35 am

    Great real-living advice!
    I have a highly structured system for my kitchen pantry too (actually, pantry, fridges, freezers, under sink, spice drwer,and the 3 pantries in the laundry). I also have lables stuck on my shelves and fridge shelves, and a white board next to my chest freezer so I know what’s in there . I always know exactly where anything is and that saves time when cooking. Woe betide the kiddies or hubby if things are not put where they belong!

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:36 pm

      InTolerantChef–LOL on your follow-up comment … taking food seriously is perfectly fine! I don’t have labels for my shelves, but I do have a sheet of paper on my upright freezer on which I note the contents, adding new items and then marking them off as I remove them. So I’m with you on that concept. :-) Thanks so much for your input and positive feedback, too!

      Shirley

  21. InTolerantChef on May 18th, 2011 7:36 am

    I just realised how OCD that makes me sound!
    Let’s just say, I take food seriously!!

  22. Iris on May 18th, 2011 11:54 am

    I’ve always said that you can tell a lot about a person by what she keeps in her fridge/pantry. I was just talking with my friend the other day about how fun it would be for me to write a book analyzing people I’ve never met by what I find in their kitchens. What does your pantry say about you? Well, aside from the fact that you’re gluten-free, I would say it tells me that you love tradition, but that you’re an innovator. Your homemade vanilla extract and numerous ingredients for baked goods say Traditional American Values, but your inclusion of gourmet and ethnic items like avocado oil, rice noodles, and coconut milk tell me you like to explore new dishes and are open to new ideas. The apples on the counter, veggies in the fridge, and palm sugar tell me that health is important to you and that you try to have your cake and your vegetables too! (How did I do?)

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:45 pm

      Iris–Your comment totally delights me! :-) How did you do? Well, I sure hope I can live up to your assessment! And, I think you should write that book for sure … I’d buy it. ;-)

      xoxo,
      Shirley

      • bob on July 19th, 2012 9:20 am

        I’d buy that book too!

        • Shirley on July 19th, 2012 12:00 pm

          Hi Bob–Folks loves Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks! Like I said, there’s lots in this first book of hers that’s naturally gluten free and other recipes that are easy to adapt. :-)

          Shirley

          • bob on July 20th, 2012 10:58 pm

            Thanks for the sweet reply Shirley. I love your obvious concern for others trying to find their way GF = )

            What I meant was, I would buy a book ‘analysing’ people because of their kitchen/pantry contents in a friendly way!

          • Shirley on July 21st, 2012 7:15 pm

            Ah, Bob! I see now. ;-) Wouldn’t that be something? I don’t think many of us would open up our pantry if we were going to be analyzed based on its contents and organization (or lack thereof), but I agree with you … that would certainly be an interesting book!

            Shirley

  23. Jeanette on May 18th, 2011 12:35 pm

    Shirley,
    Thanks for opening your pantries up and showing us how you leave gluten-free! I am in the midst of organizing the gluten/dairy-free items in my freezer and refrigerator drawer for my son as I am leaving for BlogHer Food tomorrow. Although I know where everything is (usually), no one else does and I’m trying to make it easier for the rest of my family to find the allergy friendly foods for their little brother.

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:49 pm

      Hi Jeanette–Arranging your son’s special food items is a terrific idea. Bet it will make a huge difference to everyone. :-) You’re a great mom! Wouldn’t you know that the first year I miss BlogHer Food, you’ll be there? Now I’m more bummed than ever that I’m missing it this year. :-( Incidentally, I thought of you the other day when I saw a ham soup with dumplings, since you made such lovely dumplings a while back. Will let you know if I make it. :-) Have a blast at BHF!

      Hugs,
      Shirley

  24. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free on May 18th, 2011 4:18 pm

    I am so with you – I believe whole heartedly that a well stocked pantry makes life so much easier. Your’s is much better organized than mine, what to come give me some tips? I’ll cook :)

    xo,
    carol

    • Shirley on May 18th, 2011 9:53 pm

      Hey Carol–I figured you’d have a well-stocked pantry! After all, you’ve been known to whip up fantastic desserts on the spur of the moment. ;-)

      Oh, I’ll definitely organize for you if you cook … I’ll start making my wish list now!

      xoxo,
      Shirley

  25. Peter Bronski on May 19th, 2011 10:56 am

    Hi Shirley… Thanks for giving us all a window into your pantry! It’s really interesting to see how other people stock their pantry, and what “go to” ingredients they always have on-hand. =) A well-stocked pantry makes for a happy kitchen (and cooks, and eaters…).

    Cheers,
    Pete

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2011 10:14 pm

      Hey Pete–Thanks for taking the time to comment. :-) I admit I’ve always been the kind of person who likes the look into other people’s houses more than I’ve enjoyed offering mine for all to view. Yet, I like entertaining … weird, huh? ;-) I think when we take a peek at others’ pantries (or houses), we alway see something appealing that we want to try as everyone’s “go to” items are different.

      Shirley

  26. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on May 19th, 2011 11:11 am

    I love going through other peoples pantries. I think it says a lot about them and definitely about their cooking. We are definitely a well stocked pantry household here. My husband and I go once every other month and load up on beans, canned tomatoes and stuff like that so we can always have a good meal on the fly. I too am an apple girl! Gotta love them…they are the perfect snack!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2011 10:38 pm

      Hey Sarena–It’s nice to have these commonalities! I just love making a meal out of ingredients on hand. :-) Yes, apples rock. don’t they? They don’t often get their due, I think, but we always love having them on hand. And if I cut one up and have it in a bowl on the counter … well, it just magically disappears. I always love that! ;-)

      Thanks, dear!
      Shirley

  27. Christine on May 19th, 2011 1:40 pm

    I am also impressed with how neat your pantry is. Despite trying to organize mine every few months, it’s always in a state of disaster. haha.
    I’m looking forward to having a larger kitchen and/or one with a dedicated pantry as my cupboards are very full!

    • Shirley on May 19th, 2011 11:10 pm

      Hi Christine–Well, it’s more of an anomaly than the normal appearance. I truly didn’t do that much actually to prepare it for the photo, but it made a big difference. :-) I’ve learned just the right amount to stockpile before items go on sale again and I can restock. ;-)

      Thanks, dear!
      Shirley

  28. Heather @Gluten-Free Cat on May 21st, 2011 3:30 am

    Wonderful post, Shirley! I’m a huge fan of a well-organized pantry. I think I reorganize my pantry once every 3-4 months. I’m not a meal planner either, but when I can open my pantry and see the possibilities instead of digging and hunting for ingredients, whipping up a meal is so much easier.

    • Shirley on May 21st, 2011 8:17 am

      Hi Heather–Thanks so much, dear! Reorganizing one’s pantry fairly often seems like a great idea as there always seem to be items pushed into corners that deserve attention. When I’m adding to mine, I usually do quick reorganizations, but the major ones don’t happen quite that often. Either way though, it just feels so good to have that order and be able to see all that available with a quick glance here and there. It’s validating that you share my “cook from the pantry” approach! :-)

      Hugs,
      Shirley

  29. Tia @ Glugle Gluten Free on May 23rd, 2011 6:00 pm

    So. I perused the pictures first before I read the post. A habit from childhood I never broke. Why? Here is what I noticed right away.

    Top shelf! *giggle* Love that top shelf.

    The cracker tin tucked in the back. We had one exactly like it when I was growing up. I assume it houses something different, now.

    The ice cream maker part in the freezer. Yes, I knew exactly what it was.

    So, I guess that means the things that mean the most to me are alcohol, ice cream and fond family memories. Yep! Sounds good.

    BTW, the avocado oil is great on salads. Just tried it the other day.

    xo – Tia

    • Shirley on May 25th, 2011 6:58 pm

      Hey Tia–You crack me up, as always! Most people LOVE that top shelf. ;-) The cracker tin STILL contains gluten-full crackers for Mr. GFE. Those are some of the few gluten-full items in our house. Mr. GFE really likes Saltines with his soup and Ritz crackers with his oysters. I’m okay with that. I do the dispensing and cleaning afterwards. I meant to say something about that tin in the post and then forgot. :-(

      Thanks for the positive feedback and the review/recommendation of the avocado oil. Look forward to trying that! :-)

      xo,
      Shirley

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