Stocking Your Pantry

I’m buzzing. (No, I did not have one too many glasses of wine this evening.) I feel like I’ve awakened from a very deep sleep, refreshed, energized and ready to take on the world. And, in a sense, I have…

I’ve just returned from a weekend in the mountains of southern California where I chatted with some amazing food bloggers (not an understatement – trust me, you’d be amazed). As a seasoned writer, but brand-spankin’ new blogger, I had the opportunity at Camp Blogaway to pick the brains of the creative people behind some of my favorite blogs.

Every conversation had something new to offer my neophyte-blogger mind, from Erika at In Erika’s Kitchen and Andrew at Eating Rules with their SEO tips and tricks to Cheryl at 5 Second Rule with her incredible ability to write without wasting a single word to Lynn at Bijouxs with her breathtaking photography. Each person I met gave me a little insight into a different facet of blogging.

I realized that this conference is kind of like stocking a pantry. You collect the items that are your go-to staples, the ones that fly off the shelves at a moment’s notice. Then you collect the things that are interesting, intriguing and exotic, but that you might not need on a daily basis, so you shelve them until they’re needed. The information I collected at Camp Blogaway is just like that: all valuable, some saved for later and some used immediately. I’m compiling a list of go-to blogging staples, playing with the “recipes” of blogging and finding out what works for me. (And the new, wonderful friends I’ve made are good stock for my blogging “pantry!” I’m whole-heartedly grateful to each and every one of you.)

All this pantry stock talk makes me think I should actually discuss it… So, here are a few things I ALWAYS have on hand:

Whole grains/dry pastas – These make great, quick weeknight meals (something of which I’m getting all too familiar with).

Chicken stock (low sodium) – I would cook anything in chicken stock… for real.

Baking needs (all-purpose and gluten-free flours, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, etc.) – I never know when I’m going to crave a biscuit… Oh, man! And there it is…

Canned tomatoes – If you can find jarred, that’s a bit better. The acidity of the tomatoes can potentially cause the metals of the can to leach into your food.

Canned or dried beans – Sometimes I just don’t feel like eating meat, so beans are a great substitute, in my opinion.

Honey – LOVE this stuff. I use it in salad dressings, marinades, baked good, etc.

Oils & vinegars – These complex flavors add a lot of depth to a dish without a lot of work. I’m a fan.

Spices & dried herbs – We’ve discussed my obsession with nutmeg. But in all honesty, it doesn’t stop there – not even close.

That’s typically what’s in my pantry (that, and a lot of other random things). What do you always keep on hand? Any must-have additions for this list? Leave a comment and let me know.

2011 Camp Blogaway


  1. Bijouxs says:

    Hi Emily,

    I totally agree with your pantry basics…so many times have I reached for dried pasta, canned tomatoes, olive oil, herbs…all pantry staples, that can save your dinner life! I always have anchovies, clams, and my favorite Italian hot peppers…love a spicy pasta dish. As always, enjoy B.

    • emily says:

      Those sound like terrific additions to a pantry! Thanks for the ideas. Now I’m really hungry!

  2. Emily, I love that simile. I have definitely used some advice that’s “best used in 2-3 days,” but also have some tips and tricks left on the shelf. It was so lovely to meet you and I can’t wait to see what you do armed with this knowledge!

    • Oh, and my pantry is a little ridiculous. Pasta, brown rice, quinoa, millet, tons of nuts, various dried beans, canned tomatoes, 5 kinds of flour, three kinds of honey plus brown rice syrup and molasses…

      • emily says:

        Oh, I forgot about nuts! Yes, I do have a plethora of nut choices on my shelves. Thanks so much for leaving a comment – I’ve learned so much from you already and I’m sure we’ll continue to build our blogging pantry. :0)

  3. Without our late-night talks, I’m back to passing out at 9:30 at home! ha! ha! You have a great list of pantry staples. My additions: dried fruits, canned tuna, nuts & nut butters, chicken/vegetable stock, and oreos – you need something to munch on while you cook!

    • emily says:

      Great additions! Thanks! And yes, I’ve reverted to my early bed time too – I feel like I need to call you up for inspiration and brainstorming! :0)

  4. This is great! I love the parallel between camp and a well-stocked pantry. I had a blast up there in the mountains and I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog!

    • emily says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog! It is so inspiring to meet the people behind these amazing stories and recipes and to learn about them by continuing to follow their blogs – yours included! :0) I’m loving this community and look forward to learning even more from everyone!

  5. cheryl says:

    Emily, thanks for including me here in your lovely post. I’m delighted to be a part of your human pantry!

    p.s. Current favorite staple in my pantry: fennel seed. I can’t really explain why, but all of a sudden it’s finding its way into everything I make.

    • emily says:

      Oh Cheryl, I have learned so much from you and I continue to find little jewels from your writing and blog posts. And fennel seed is a great addition to the pantry – thanks! And yum!

  6. Kim says:

    Hi Emily,

    I REALLY wish there was more time at Camp, because there are soo many people (yourself included) I would have loved to talk to some more.

    I too, walked away from Camp refreshed. Re-energized. Motivated. And I need to work on “finding my voice” before that momentum dies.


    I always keep sealed jars of anchovies in my pantry. They’re WONDERFUL flavor boosters, from vinaigrettes to pasta sauces. :-)

    Have a great week!


  7. emily says:

    I know, Kim! I felt like we finally got a chance to connect when camp was almost half over. But there will be next time! ;) Anchovies are an awesome addition – thanks! I honestly don’t use them enough, so I will be running to the store to get some and then running to the bookshelf (and “blogshelf”) to find ways to use them!

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