As fantastic as September can be, it signifies the start of a busy fall schedule, especially as the days start to inch toward the holiday season. It can be even busier if you have kids, and your schedule is jam-packed with getting them to and from school, working on homework, handling projects, meeting with teachers, attending school events, and more. Also, if your family is anything like mine, you’ve been living on fresh peaches and grilled chicken for months, and that’s left your pantry virtually untouched. Now’s the perfect time to clean it out.
Food changes with the seasons, and my menus adjust to reflect in-season ingredients. When the weather starts to cool, typical summer foods like watermelon, fresh lemonade, and creamy cucumber salad give way to savory recipes for dishes like roast turkey, butternut squash soup, or a hearty south-western chili. To properly prepare your kitchen, you need to update your pantry for fall cooking.
If cleaning out and organizing a pantry to make way for new ingredients feels like an overwhelming task, don’t worry! With just a few tips and tricks, you can carefully and efficiently stock your cupboard with tried and true autumn staples that will last long after the first snow has fallen.
- First, remove all the cans and boxes from the pantry shelves and vacuum any lingering dust or crumbs (a lot can build up in just a few months). Then inspect each item before putting it back in its place, tossing anything that is expired or past its prime.
- Make an inventory of what’s in your pantry. Overshopping is a surefire way to find yourself with a cluttered pantry, so before you purchase your fall staples, take stock of what you already have. Take a moment to write down everything you’ve got in your pantry, and organize it by categories such as:
- Canned goods
- Dry goods
- Put the goods you’re unlikely to ever use in a separate container to donate to a food bank or other program.
While I maintain stock on year-round items (tomatoes, tomato sauce, cereals, peanut butter, and so on) the following are the items I’m particular about stocking (or re-stocking) in my autumn pantry. However, you know what you like to make and what your family likes to eat, so my lists below are just a guide to get you started. If you know there are certain things that will be needed for fall family traditions such as football tailgating and nights around the fire pit (don’t forget graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars for s’mores), be sure to add those things to your shopping list. Now, when the creative juices flow and the urge to create comes over you, you’ll have what you need, and a trip to the grocery store will be the last thing on your mind.
- Cinnamon (stick and ground)
- Smoked Paprika
- Vanilla (extract and beans)
- Olive Oil
- Assorted Vinegars
- Dried Beans (Assorted — especially cannellini and great northern)
- Lentils (French Green and red)
- Brown Basmati
- Wild Rice
- Chinese Noodles
- Elbow Macaroni
- Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- Stone-Ground Flour
- Baking Soda and Powder
- Sugar (white, brown, confectioner, and sanding)
- Maple Syrup
- Dulce de Leche
- Cocoa Powder, Unsweetened
- Dried fruit (raisins, dates, cherries, apricots, currants, plums)
SHELVED AND CANNED GOODS
- Coconut Milk
- Evaporated Milk
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- Quality Chocolate (chips, unsweetened, dark, syrup)
- Nuts (almonds, walnut, and pecans)
- Broths (chicken, beef, and vegetable)
- Canned Beans (kidney, chickpea, black, white, chili, and refried)
- Apple Sauce
- Canned Meats (tuna, salmon, chicken)
- Hot Chocolate
- Cider (Bottled, and even dry packets)
Finally, having a selection of our Bellisari’s sauces and spreads and a box or two of our mini phyllo shells will provide you with so many easy and convenient options for bringing gourmet flavors to recipes you’re trying for the very first time and family favorites too. With everything stocked up for the fall, you and your kitchen are well prepared for the months ahead, be it large holiday celebrations or cozy family dinners. Happy fall from all of us at Bellisari’s!