shelves of jars for food while we talk about stocking the pantry for the first time

Quick Guide: How to Stock the Pantry using a Kitchen Journal

It’s that time of year. The time when hearts are turned inward. The home becomes a warm and inviting place to cozy up on the couch with loved ones. Thinking about the coming holidays and then deep winter points me to prepping the pantry. In this part of the Kitchen Journal series, I want to talk about how to stock a pantry for the first time using your journal.

How to Stock a Pantry for the First Time

Now, unless you are a college kid moving into your first apartment, it’s likely that you already have some pantry items. When I talk about stocking a pantry for the first time, I mean the first time you are truly taking inventory of what you have, what you need, and why.

This is a process that we bypass due to the busyness of life. You may have family obligations, work responsibilities, children, etc. and when it’s time to eat you just grab whatever and keep it going.

But we know that in order to cultivate a healthy environment for our families, we need to slow down. Food allows us to not only have beautiful, simple moments together, but it also gives us energy, strength, clarity, and beautiful memories. 

Maybe you’ve been wanting that. Maybe you’ve been wanting better food or to prepare your home for winter. 

So we’re talking about how to stock a pantry for the first time, meaning intentionally stocking the things we actually want to make life simpler in the kitchen.

Using the Kitchen Journal to Take Inventory

The first step in stocking up your pantry is to take inventory. 

Get out your kitchen journals and turn to a blank page or section. You may need a few pages depending on what’s in your pantry now and the size of your journal. 

You can create columns if you’d like to be neat. Title your columns food item (or ingredients), amount/number of, and the amount needed. You can play around with exactly how you’d like to set up your page.

Then go through your existing pantry, fridge, and freezer. Write down what staples and ingredients you have and how many or how much of each. You might want to make a column for writing expiration dates as well. 

Here is a good chart to use for knowing how long certain things like rice can last you. You might want to even print it out and put it in your journal, or write a list of a few items important to you. 

Make note of the items you need to restock.

How to Stock a Pantry for the First Time Using a Meal Plan

Now how would you know how much you actually need of each item and if you have all of the items you need for the meals you make, except to use a meal plan? 

Meal planning might be one of the most tedious things about kitchen work, however, it is the most useful. Creating a plan for your meals allows you to know what ingredients to shop for and to keep in your pantry. If you don’t have a plan, start with how to make a meal plan. You can also pick up my free, simple meal plan printable in the treasure box!

this is an example, the free one has blank squares. Click to Get!

If you already have a plan or just created one, then you can look at the meals you’ll be making this month, this winter, or the general menu your family likes and add the ingredients that you don’t have already written into your kitchen journal. 

As the seasons change you can revisit your journal and pantry to add the foods that you use during that time of the year.

Essentials for a Cozy Fall and Winter Pantry

Now that you have a starting point of what’s in your pantry, let’s go further and fill in the gaps. If you are learning how to stock the pantry for the first time, you probably have some not-so-obvious gaps (especially if you are starting a traditional food pantry).

Besides, I think it’s always helpful to have certain foods on hand during the winter. I mean the idea of stocking up isn’t just so you can have on hand some lovely, warming foods. 

The idea of having a fall and winter pantry is that if something should happen, you are able to supply for you and your family without running to the store every 3-5 days. And believe me, that’s no easy task with a family to feed. However, if you have some essentials on hand you should be able to skate by during hard times.

Here are some essentials to get you started on a cozy fall and warm winter pantry. It’s good to have your favorites of each category so I won’t get too specific.

Canned Foods: Canned vegetables, tomatoes (in various forms), and beans. Canned pumpkin or cranberries may be wonderful at this time of year. A few types of canned fruit. Canned meats (like tuna or chicken). Canned salmon can make for a fast dinner. And, of course, canned soups for a quick lunch.

Broth or Stock: Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth can be convenient to have on hand for those wonderful Fall and winter soups, used for cooking grains or adding to sauces.

Pastas and Grains: This is what I typically think of when stocking up. Grains and pastas can last a long time, over a year, sometimes as long as 5 years. It’s worth filling your pantry with various pasta types and grains like rice and quinoa. 

Flour and Baking Supplies: Winter is a great time to bake or learn to bake. You’ll need flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. There are a variety of each of these nowadays, so choose what’s economical and things you’ll actually use. (Think: pies, cookies, pancakes, muffins, bread, etc.)

Spices and Herbs: Herbs are used a lot in soups and casseroles, and Fall spices are everywhere. Again, especially if you bake, you’ll need things like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. I made a wonderful list in my journal to keep in mind specifics about winter herbs and spices.

Root Vegetables: Of course, most fall and winter recipes will include potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables. Some last-harvesting leafy greens are good for your fridge too, but won’t stock your pantry per se.

Dried Fruits and Nuts: These are great for snacking or adding to warming meals like oatmeal and sweet breads.

Using the Kitchen Journal to Keep Your Pantry Organized

You can do a lot with your journal to keep the pantry organized. 

The first thing that comes to mind is using a page or two to draw out your pantry, its unique shape and size, and use a pencil or re-stickable stickers to plot out what should go where. You can do some great re-organizing that way or outline storage containers. 

You can consider investing in airtight containers or big barrels for the best way to store your food, like flour, rice, and pasta.

Once you figure out what goes on what shelf or what kinds of containers, it’s best to label your shelf or container. This can add some beauty to your storage and of course, make it easier for you and your family members to find ingredients quickly.

Going back to the inventory plans, you can mark out and check your items list for when things expire or need restocking. I leave the last several pages of my kitchen journals just for daily, weekly or monthly inventory updates. However, to make it easy for you, if you don’t want to use a kitchen journal, you can download this FREE PANTRY INVENTORY PRINTABLE

Again it’s all in my Treasure Box of cool, cute, and *free* printables. This is a special gift for all members of the 3PC community.

I hope this gave you what you need in order to learn how to stock a pantry for the first time!

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