I watched Mona Lisa Smile for the first time in years last night, and I was so struck by the difference sixty years can make in the roles of women. Somewhere along the way as our culture broke free from social pressures to entertain and get family dinner on the table by 5pm, we lost the habit of gathering. We let food become fast and convenient; cooking a necessary evil to outsource. It’s funny how that happens with change. We often swing wide in the opposite direction for a while, working so intensely to steer clear of past baggage and mistakes that we lose the goodness that thing had in the first place. The goodness, in this case, being the joy and downright holiness of the kitchen.
We’re lucky to live in a time where having a well stocked kitchen is not a should anymore. Instead it gets to be something that brings satisfaction and ease. I’ll cheers to that!
So here’s a peak inside my pantry and the go-to’s I like to keep on hand.
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Shelf Life: 3-6 months (or longer)
Who doesn’t love chips and salsa?! This is the perfect, any season crowd pleaser. It’s also a great pantry appetizer to have on hand if you’re looking for something last minute to bring to a friend’s house or party. Want to spruce it up a bit? Add fresh limes and green salsa for a little extra flavor.
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Shelf Life: about 1 month
I have been making chocolate chip pancakes for friends on Saturday mornings since high school. And though it’s not the most health conscious breakfast, there’s just something so nostalgic and comforting about pancakes and coffee on the weekend. Or any day, really. Heck, I want some right now. I’ve tried several “from scratch” pancake recipes, but I’ve found mixes to be the best. A little secret I learned from my mom – add 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of lemon juice to the mix for extra fluffy pancakes. And if you want to go one step further, I like to add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar as well.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Shelf Life: 1-3 months
Cheese boards get a lot of attention these days, and for very good reason. They’re simple, satisfying, and you feel classy as crap putting one together. This is probably the pantry go-to I use the most, and honestly, it doesn’t take much. If you have it on hand, slice up a piece of fresh fruit like an apple or pear and smear some jam on the side for dipping. Your guests will lose their minds, I promise.
Prep Time: 30 seconds
Shelf Life: 1 year
I can’t remember exactly when I started keeping fruit snacks in my pantry at all times, but it was circa 2012 when my Costco love affair started. On one particular shopping trip, I was so blissfully high on Costco samples I decided to buy a box of 250 fruit snacks. After about a month, Jordan and I got so tired of eating them that I (a bit forcefully) offered them to every soul who stepped foot in our house. I even stashed a few in friend’s bags while they weren’t looking. I am not proud of this. We eventually ran out one day, much to my brother-in-law Drew’s horror. Come to find out, I had created this odd Pavlov’s dog effect on friends and family. When they entered my home, they craved fruit snacks. I profusely apologized and promised an endless supply of fruit snacks from that day forward. You already know about the Lacroix obsession…
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Shelf Life: 3-6 months
You know those long hang outs where the conversation is just so good and the chemistry of the room is so wonderful, no one wants to leave? This pantry go-to is for that day. Good food is the secret sauce for extending togetherness, especially a dinner where no one really has to cook. Any time I make soup, I just double the recipe and freeze half in a gallon bag. Add some warm baguettes and fresh brewed iced tea.
The secret to a well stocked pantry is finding what works for you. Find a few recipes and go-to’s you will enjoy serving over and over again so you don’t really have to think about it. What are some of your favorites? Do you have a “fruit snack” snack at your house? Do tell!
As always, you can find me on Instagram @flowerandfig or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first decade of my adult life, I lived in apartments where the guest room also doubled as the living room, office, or unorganized storage room, etc. During those years the best I had to offer was often a Costco air mattress and a sound machine. And yet, (past guests, feel free to set the record straight here) it didn’t keep us from having a blast hosting family and friends. At the end of the day, all people need to feel welcome in your home is your relaxed, welcoming vibe and the good food you put in their belly.
Be realistic about what you have on your plate. Is this a crazy season of life for you? Plan for shortcuts. Serve cheese and grapes instead of the wrapped baked brie. Find the best gathering hacks and stick to them. We often procrastinate when the task at hand seems overwhelming. Be kind to yourself and keep it simple.
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