by Lori Ann

2010-07-01clearly, not my photo (I’m out of town and couldn’t get my own cabinet!)
photo by Robot B on flickr

We’ve never been great at keeping up with meal planning. We’ll write a week’s menu, only to forget it two days in. More often, we don’t get to the menu-writing at all.

Part of our (my) problem is not being great at cooking “on the fly.” It’s complicated to figure out which recipes share ingredients, but I’ve never cooked without recipes.

To remedy this problem, I just finished reading How to Cook Without a Book. I’m implementing the first step right now, keeping an ongoing list of food to stock in the house. She acknowledges that everyone’s will be different based on their tastes, so here’s ours:


  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • gingerroot
  • fruit


  • veggies: carrots + bell pepper + lettuce + celery, cucumber, cabbage
  • dairy: milk + butter + cheese + yogurt
  • eggs: raw + boiled
  • condiments: dijon mustard + ketchup + chili sauce + jam + PB + honey


  • bread: baguettes/rolls + breakfast sweet bead/muffins
  • veggies: peas, green beans, corn
  • fruit: berries, sliced peaches, bananas, diced apples
  • poultry: chicken breasts or thighs
  • meat: ground or tenderloin + sausage (freeze all but 1 or 2 days’)
  • fish
  • homemade tomato sauce (cook extra for pasta, pizza, etc.)
  • dessert: ice cream, pastry dough


  • chicken bouillon
  • milk: powdered + condensed/evaporated
  • oil
  • breadcrumbs
  • pasta: spaghetti + macaroni +egg noodles
  • grains: rice + oats or buckwheat + cornmeal
  • bottled: white or ACV + rice wine vinegar + soy sauce + fish sauce
  • beans: black + chickpeas + soup beans
  • baking: flour + sugar (white + brown) + baking powder + soda + yeast + cocoa powder

basil + bay leaves + black pepper + chili peppers + cinnamon + cloves + cumin + curry + garlic + Italian + nutmeg + oregano + sage + salt + thyme + vanilla


  • seeds, toasted nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds)
  • dried fruit: raisins, currants, cranberries
  • dark chocolate
  • crackers

key: + means “this AND this,” commas indicate choices between various options

What do you always keep in the house?