Capsule Pantry 2 - Ingredients

Capsule Pantry - Ingredients

And then my capsule pantry was born.

A capsule pantry plays on the idea of a capsule wardrobe - a few core elements that kind of all work together so they can be combined in different ways to create variety.

To be clear - I'm sure I'm not the first to invent the capsule pantry - in fact, a quick google search confirms it, but when the idea came to me I immediately had to start scratching out ideas of how it could work in my family. To give credit, my version of this idea was initially sparked by looking over a list of common foods we keep stocked at home, a list I made at the suggestion of Brittany from She's in her Apron.

But she was talking about how to build a pantry that allows you to grocery shop once a month. I don't care about that as long as I've always got my core ingredients in my inventory. I'm looking for something that allows maximum flexibility and chaos in the system without falling apart. Whether you shop once every 3 days, once every 3 weeks, or once every three months, it basically looks the same. You want to have the right amount of those few core ingredients in your pantry to last until the next time you go to the store (and ideally not much longer than that, for most foods)

To start, I really fleshed out that list of ingredients we keep on hand. I cut out some things that we always seem to have but could really do without, and added in one or two things that we'd love to have but seem like too much of a luxury the way things are now (mostly shrimp). And then I started shopping by that list - using up the last of the random bits in the pantry at the same time. Going through the process, I've seen which of those random things actually deserves its space in my pantry, and which I'd be better off without (spoiler alert: every single one of those things has fallen into the latter category.)

I remade the list organized for each grocery store, but as we're letting our Costco membership expire at the end of the month, the list will be getting a little bit of a tweak in the weeks to come. After all, it's not even worth buying croissants at Aldi. But this step will also hugely simplify our grocery experience

This is my list as it currently stands. Note - this is my list. Your list will be entirely different based on the foods that you regularly go through in your home

Just glancing at it, it looks like a long list. But when you look at it in comparison with the much longer list of stuff-we-used-to-buy-but-don't-have-to-even-think-about-anymore, it's quite compact. I could print this list, laminate it, and use it as a permanent shopping list, quickly checking the pantry, fridge, and freezer, because I know exactly what I'm meant to have and where it would be found if I already had it (since the list is organized by fridge, frozen, and room temperature items.) It also works well as a digital shopping list - I can check off each item as I find it in the inventory.

But really, I don't usually do either of those things (although I'm sure it would make me more efficient) because the beauty to me in the capsule pantry is familiarity. I still have to keep track of what I have, and what we're out of, like any normal kitchen, but I don't have to keep track of the list itself because everything that's on the list is there because we use it all the time. I don't have to make special trips to grocery stores I don't normally frequent in order to find that one ingredient - and I don't find myself a month later with a 85% full jar of that one ingredient still in the fridge because I don't have any other recipes to use it up - and of course I don't want to make the exact same recipe five more times!

All that to say, I don't use a print-off of the list when I go shopping because the list is so familiar to me, that the master copy already lives in my brain - the same brain that can't hold the 4 items I need in order to leave my house all at once. I don't need to look at asparagus and wonder if it's on the list. Yes I like asparagus, but it's not on the we-could-and-do-eat-it-every-day list.

And that's what the capsule pantry is meant to be for me. A goal for my limited wardrobe was to be able to lay my shirts out flat and just always pull the one off the top to wear. If I push a shirt to the side to see what's underneath it, then I will question if I want to have that shirt at all. My pantry needs to be similar. The foods in it should all be extraordinarily comfortable - when it comes to both eating and cooking.

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