One evening last week I was in my kitchen, opening the pantry and staring, then opening the fridge and staring.  I was hoping for a blinding revelation as to what to make for dinner using the random things I had on hand, and annoyed that I had just gone to the grocery store, yet it seemed like we had nothing to eat.  I desperately needed a you-must-have-this-stocked-in-your-pantry/fridge-at-all-times-list for the next time I went to the store.

So I did what I always do: I called my mom!

Whenever I want some practical input on something, I ask my mom.  When I was a kid, I thought she knew everything; now I know that’s not the case, but she is still my go-to for “life” questions, running the gamut from recipes to gardening to sewing to travel to decorating ideas.  She claims she is a jack of all trades and master at none, but I don’t think she gives herself nearly enough credit.  I think she a pro at “domestic” things and a killer cook.  My friends still ask me to ask my mom advice on life stuff.  I am such a lucky girl to have a mom like her.  🙂

there's my mom! (and sister bustling my dress) - can i call out that my mom sewed in the bustling rings/ribbons the day before the wedding?! amazing

there's my mom! (and sister bustling my dress) - can i call out that my mom sewed in the bustling rings/ribbons the day before the wedding?! she is amazing!!!

That got us to thinking: I should start posting some of the Q&A sessions we have together!  And if you, my dear readers, ever have a question, just pop me an email at inthetweeds (at) mac (dot) com and my mom will get to work!

So do you want to know my mom’s answer to my dire pantry/fridge list request, hopefully preventing me from future kitchen indecision too many nights a week trying to figure out how to throw my random foodstuff into a tasty dinner???  Here goes!

QUESTION: Mom!  I just went to the store and my fridge and pantry are full but I can’t seem to make any of it work together!  Can you send me a list of what I must have at all times?!  I hate staring at the pantry like this.  I’m hungry!

ANSWER: Here’s a list of things you should keep in your pantry so you have lots of dinnertime options:

Condiments: capers, dill relish, Dale’s Seasoning, ketchup, mustard, real mayo, Worcestershire sauce, Italian dressing, garlic in a jar, anchovy paste (in a tube), extra virgin olive oil, peanut oil, canola or sunflower oil, vinegar, balsamic vinegar

Canned/Jar Foods: hearts of palm, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, beans (cannelloni, kidney, black, chickpeas), fun jellies/jams (for a spur-of-the-moment appetizer over cream cheese), good Italian tomatoes, green chilies, salsa, rotel tomatoes, a variety of canned soups (cream of mushroom, cream of chicken)

Mixes & Seasoning Packets: soup base (chicken, ham, beef, mushroom, lobster), chicken chili seasoning, thai peanut sauce, something for stir fry (i.e. beef & broccoli), beef gravy, pot roast seasoning, fajita seasoning, onion soup mix

Frozen Foods: haricot vertes (skinny green beans), peas, individually frozen chicken breasts, a pork tenderloin, ground beef (already browned in a skillet), pre-cooked bacon

Dairy: cream cheese, half & half (or fat free half & half), good plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, sour cream, eggs, parmesan cheese, good cheddar, Velveeta, butter, brie, swiss or gruyere, milk

Produce: carrots, celery, red onions, Vidalia or yellow onions, salad greens, apples, fruit in season, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges (in season)

Other: wine for cooking (they sell 8 oz. boxed wines – both red and white – that are perfect for keeping in the pantry so you don’t have to open a bottle)

Then, just get whatever meats and other fresh produce you’d like during a week and you always have something to make every night of the week!

To help you inventory and shop for these items, here’s a handy dandy shopping list.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of my recipe panic stories (i.e. okay so I have a stocked pantry – now what do I make out of it?!) in the very near future.

What are some of your must-haves not on this list???

Think of this like the “Ask Martha” section of MS Living – and ask away!  Shoot me an email at inthetweeds (at) mac (dot) com if you want to get my mom’s advice.