Stocking A Real Food Kitchen

stocking a real food pantry

Keeping a well-stocked, real food kitchen is essential for sticking to a healthy lifestyle. If you’ve got healthy foods at your finger tips all the time and no processed foods to fall back on, you won’t be tempted to reach for the cereal on a busy morning.

For me, keeping a kitchen well stocked and meal planning have been the two biggest factors in keeping our family eating real foods! I’ve had several readers request a list of the foods I keep stocked in my kitchen, so today, I’m welcoming you into my kitchen (please excuse the mess!)

Stocking A Real Food Pantry

Keeping large amounts of non-perishables on hand and buying them in bulk when they are on sale is a great way to save money and always have these foods on hand. I have really limited pantry space, so instead of all my non-perishables being in one big closet, they are spread out all over my kitchen. I cook with a lot of fresh or frozen ingredients though, so this hasn’t been too much trouble.

These are the foods I keep stocked at all times in my pantry:

Coconut Products: I keep a lot of coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut cream, etc. on hand. We go through these things quickly, and they are great snacks to have on hand for the kids in recipes like the Chocolate Coconut Clusters. My kids even eat coconut oil off the spoon. I buy most of my coconut products from Tropical Traditions, though you can order them from many different places. Just look for unrefined, organic, cold pressed versions.

Olive Oil: I keep olive oil on hand for salad dressings and adding to foods once they are cooked. It is a great source of monounsaturated fats, just don’t use it for cooking or it can oxidize!

Other Fats and Oils: I also keep Lard, Tallow and Ghee on hand for cooking. I either make or order these in big quantities and store in 1 or 5 gallon buckets. US Wellness Meats has grassfed, organic Tallow (high in CLA) in bulk for a great price

Vinegars: I keep White Vinegar on hand for cleaning and other vinegars like balsamic and apple cider on hand for cooking. I use apple cider/balsamic/red wine for salad dressings and marinades and drink a couple TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar in water if I feel a cold coming on.

Nuts: For on-the-go snacks, I try to keep walnuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts etc. on hand. If I can, I soak and then dehydrate these before storing to reduce the phytic acid. (P.S. Macadamia nuts dipped in 90% dark chocolate and then cooled are one of my favorite treats)

Canned Fish: Though not the perfect choice, canned fish is a way to pack protein on the go, or a fast meal in a pinch. I keep sardines, tuna, wild caught salmon, etc. on hand to make tuna salads, salmon patties, etc. There are even organic sustainable tuna options.

Self Canned Veggies: I’ve been canning most of my own veggies and sauces to reduce our BPA exposure. Many store bought canned vegetables, and all tomatoes (as far as I know) have a BPA lining in the can. It is certainly more time consuming, but I can make ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, hot sauce, tomato soup, etc. from the tomatoes in our garden. If you don’t have this option, look for these foods in jars not cans.

Vegetables: Some vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated can keep in the pantry for a long time. We keep sweet potatoes, onions, winter squash, garlic, etc. on hand in the pantry and they always get eaten before they spoil.

Herbs and Spices: I keep so many of these on hand that I have a cabinet specifically stocked with medicinal and culinary herbs and spices. In my opinion, good spices can make the difference between a good meal and a great one. I use these to make iced herbal teas to keep in the fridge, for spices on food, for making tinctures, and for medicinal use if one of us gets sick. These are the herbs/spices  I currently have on hand:

Culinary:

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic (powder, granules, minced, salt)
  • Turmeric
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt (Himalayan, Black Lava, Smoked)
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Celery Salt
  • Savory
  • Dill
  • Onion Powder and Salt
  • Mint
  • Bay Leaf
  • Caraway
  • Cardamon
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Pepper

I also keep medicinal/tea herbs and spices on hand

  • Alfalfa
  • Nettle
  • Dandelion
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Red Raspberry Leaf
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Elderberries
  • Bilberry
  • Black Walnut
  • Calendula
  • Catnip
  • Coltsfoot
  • Echinacea
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginko
  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseal
  • Hops
  • Horsetail
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Licorice
  • Oatstraw
  • Red Clover
  • Spurlina
  • Stevia Leaf
  • Kelp

I order all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been really impressed with them. They offer bulk discounts depending on how much you order, so if you decide to order from here, I’d recommend ordering in bulk and stocking up.

Herbs and Spices Cabinet

Baking Ingredients: Almond flour, baking powder (aluminum free), baking soda, cocoa powder, vanilla, almond butter, dark baking chocolate, etc.

How to stock a Real Food Fridge

Stocking A Real Food Fridge

The fridge is harder to keep stocked, at least around here. As fast as my kids go through eggs, bacon, apples, and cucumbers, it never seems to stay full! (that picture was taken as soon as I got home from the store!)

These are the things I always (try) to keep stocked in my fridge:

Vegetables: We keep sliced cucumbers, carrots and celery on hand for snacks. I also keep lots of lettuce and spinach for salads and cabbage to make sauerkraut (which is usually in some stage of fermentation on my counter). To mix things up, I try to also keep artichokes, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, cauliflower, broccoli, greens, squashes etc. on hand.

Fruits: We try to stick with season fruit, but I usually keep apples and oranges around for the kids. If they are in season, we usually have citrus fruits, if not, I just keep lemon and lime juice for adding to water.

Coconut Milk: There is always at least a gallon of homemade or store bought coconut milk in the fridge for smoothies and drinks for the kids.

Yogurt: Though we don’t eat much yogurt, I keep the full fat organic kind on hand to separate to make whey for fermenting and cream cheese for cooking and veggie dips.

Meats: These are kept in the fridge or freezer and I usually don’t keep more than a day or two’s worth of meat defrosted at once.

Eggs: We go through at least a dozen eggs a day, so keeping these around is tough. If I can stay on top of it, I try to keep 5-6 dozen cartons in the fridge, including at least a dozen already boiled ones for snacks.

Condiments: I’ve resorted to making most of my own, but the following condiments are usually in the fridge: mustard, homemade mayo, homemade ketchup, homemade tomato sauce, homemade hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, chlorophyll, homemade pickles and relish, etc.

Other Places We Keep/Store Food

To be able to purchase in bulk, we have a stand up deep freeze and an extra fridge in our shed. We also keep a garden and cold storage. The deep freeze is full of a 1/4 cow that we purchased from a local farmer, and some frozen veggies from last year’s garden. I also really stock up on nitrite free bacon, sausage, and hot dogs when they are on sale.

During the summer months, most of our vegetables come from the garden, which helps the food budget a lot!

On my counters is always an array of foods in various stages of prep and fermentation including:

Water Kefir

how to make water kefir

Iced Herbal Teas:

herbal tea recipe

And Homemade Sauerkraut:

homemade sauerkraut

What are your best tips for keeping your kitchen well stocked with healthy foods?

You May Also Enjoy These Posts...

Reader Interactions

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Be Healthy…

Become a Wellness Mama VIP member for free and get access to my handbooks & quick start guides to help you detox your home, become a master of home remedies, make beauty products from scratch, and conquer mealtime madness!

Yes! Let me in!

Wellness Mama widget banner

Reader Comments

  1. Do you have any suggestions for someone living alone? Buying things in bulk isn’t really an option because it would take so long to go through it and/or it goes bad before it’s all used up. Especially without an extra freezer/fridge or a whole lot of pantry space it can also be difficult to store a lot of extras. I am enjoying your posts…thanks for sharing!

    • I’d just try to structure your meals each week around a single meat
      or two. You can save money buying the whole chicken and roasting it
      and then using to make chicken salad, stir fry and casseroles later
      in the week. Also, if I didn’t have toddlers who got tired of it, I’d
      eat salads with protein for most of my meals. In college, that is
      basically all I ate, and it seemed to be an easy way to get the
      nutrition in on a budget. If you have some freezer space, you could
      make slightly larger amounts of meals you like and freeze individual
      serving sizes to have healthy food on hand when you’re in a hurry.

      • Hi and thank you for asking and answering. I took time to work everything out. Being single person too I mamanged to work something around what i can do and manage. Of course being from the UK i have a lot to learn on the way of where to access the same quality food. Learning that Britain only ever sells grass fed meat i don’t know what to look out for for high quality safe dairy and meat. But i learnt our local store doesn’t inject anything into their animals and only does herbal therapeutic treatment when they ever get ill. I wonder if they are best to buy from why weren’t they labeled in the top list from a website i was looking at. Buying from tropical traditions seems more expensive due to the delivery cost but that’s the only other option I’ve found. I don’t yet live in the country but i do plan to and do plan to start growing my own and later in country life i plan to have my own ducks for eggs so thank you for the information and time you take to post everything. They’ve been a fantastic help. I’m learning how to keep up and manage my own and fit in a budget. And now i know when i grow my own i can freeze quite a lot of it. I thought i needed a massive freezer before when i was eating grains but now i learnt eating more fat saves the 2 Co part meets for just meat and veg. So you can try that two Sarah. Soon as i decide and buy my bulk I’ll be buying 2 source of meat. Two source of fish like shell fish and wild caught and I was planning to prepare one whole meat into a fortnight or months worth of meals. Like small chicken cut up for salads and medium meat or minces meat for burgers. And I was planing to buy a week bulk or fortnight of greens and store them. 😉 I have a budget too and this only works out 40 more a f than my normal shopping order only difference is its better and healthier. 😉

        • If you have friends who have a family near by, perhaps you might be able to buy things from them. I have a family and also friend who lives by herself, and we’d go to the market together. Sometimes we’d find things like a 5-kilo sack of carrots for 2.50 euros, then I’d buy it, she’d pay me for the carrots she needed, and I’d cart the rest off home to roast or pickle for my own family.

  2. I’m trying to keep a up-to-date list of available snacks, leftovers, frozen foods, and weekly dinner menu on the fridge to remind ourselves of what there is and what dinner will supposedly be. I cook 7 days a week to avoid un-nutritious food. Your site is AWESOME! Do you have any ideas on packing kids lunch for school(my oldest is starting all-day Kindergarten in August)?

  3. Wow that’s impressive! A great bunch of healthy foods and what a variety! I should show you a picture of my kitchen for contrast. I have a single shelf of dried food and tea. I don’t remember what’s in there because I never actually open that cabinet. I prefer to eat fresh. My counter top has a bunch of fruit on it, plus a crock pot with some hot beef stew. And my fridge; that’s the really funny part. There is uncured bacon in the meat drawer (don’t eat cold cuts). The shelf has some fresh grass-fed beef, some chicken I’m going to cook later today, some pastured eggs I pick up at the CSA dropoff, and there is a bag of sprouted corn tortillas that I let my daughter eat every few days, and there’s a bottle of keifer. The veggie drawer has a few carrots, some green chard, cilantro, and an onion. In the freezer I have about 6lbs of pemmican (like beef jerky but with waaay more fat) and some frozen tuna. That’s it. And that’s how it’s been for many years. I don’t eat much and I practice intermittent fasting. I absolutely don’t allow junk food into the house. If I don’t have enough food, I go to the store. If I can’t make it to the store, I make due with what I have. I eat some pemmican and a teaspoon of honey or something. For me personally, I am better disciplined keeping food as a low priority.

  4. Do you use Diatomateous (sp?) Earth in your cooking? I used it for smoothies for my son when we were dealing with some health issues and healing his gut (prescribed by our Health Practitioner for parasites, yeast infection…) but I’ve never thought to use it for anything else. I’m curious as to how you use it!

    • I don’t use it in cooking, though I’ve heard of people adding it to
      baking recipes. I keep it on hand for intestinal issues and for
      killing ants and other pests I find inside.

  5. Such a helpful post! I love the pictures. And I’m happy to say I have a whole box of jars next to my computer here on my kitchen table. I’m working on a kitchen like yours! 🙂

  6. My kitchen looks a lot like yours but also has more dried than canned veggies and fruits and a crock of working kombucha (with bottled K in the fridge).  I can’t seem to find any almond flour recipes anywhere.  Does coconut flour work much better (I am new to the optional flour world)?  Thanks for all you do, I really enjoy your site.  

    • I need to get better about drying fruits and veggies… and about
      making Kombucha. I prefer coconut flour because it has less phytic
      acid, and is cheaper. Almond flour tastes more like wheat flour, so
      some people prefer it. Elanaspantry.com has some great almond flour
      recipes, though I don’t like her use of Agave and she does use a lot
      of sweeteners. Thanks for reading!

      • I like to dry foods because some last almost forever.  I hate trying to keep track of what needs to be used up with the canned.  Drying retains many more vitamins and minerals to and it still essentially raw. 
        I have more almond flour only because I have a hard time finding the coconut flour in my area.  I don’t like using to many sweeteners either.  Thank you for the web site, I will go check it out now.  
        I have a continuous brew K-tea system on my counter so it is easy to keep up with.  

      • Hi there! I live in Belgium and coconut flour is extremely expensive around here… how about using corn or chestnut flour as an alternative? It is much easier to find and is cheaper…. What I have seen around are as well buckweed and soy flour.
        Thanks, Aliona

      • And fish! Dried salted fish (rubbed with olive oil and two or three sorts of pepper) is absolutely marvellous. Makes your kitchen smell nice, too. We have a sailboat in our garden (my husband is in the process of repairing it) and the other day I hung some mackerel to dry from the propeller shaft. The chickens wouldn’t go near it, nor would any flies at all!

  7. Wow. You rock! I decided that in 12 months I will never set foot in a grocery store again. This post just saved me 6 months of research. Thanks!

  8. I’m yet to start to learn of what to stock the kitchen with. I just have to learn what to buy and not buy in order to do this. At this time i am so dumb in the process and i’m learning little by little of what it is to stock and keep the kitchen stocked at all times.

  9. I’ve been wanting to try to make sauerkraut, but I don’t want to make a big batch for a couple reasons (One – my husband tried before and it didn’t turn out well and Two – there’s only two of us to eat it). How much cabbage do you use for your little batches?

    • 1 head will make about a quart and will last months in the fridge if stored correctly…

  10. hello! I love your website and found this article very inspirational. just a thought – have you considered making your own almond milk? I used the same brand in your fridge for many years until learning of the potential dangers of carageenan, which can cause inflammation. carageenan can be found in this and most brands of non-dairy milk and is used to thicken and bind products so they don’t need to be shaken as much and retain their texture. homemade almond milk is easy and just as delicious as long as you don’t mind the natural separation. =)

    – soak 1 1/2 cup almonds in a mason jar of water overnight (or at least 6 hours) and rinse well
    – combine almonds in blender with 4c filtered water, and blend well
    – line a colander with a t-shirt or a few layers of cheesecloth, then strain almond mixture to get the meal out
    – lift the t-shirt out of the colander and squeeze it reeeeal good, for maximum milkage
    – stir in (to taste) ~2t sea salt, ~2T agave nectar (or sugar), and a little (~1/4t) vanilla extract (if you wanna)

    homemade almond milk keeps 4-7 days in the fridge in a mason jar – use a tight lid so you can shake it well before you use it as it will most definitely separate.

    for chocolate almond milk: add 4T cocoa, 4T agave, and 1/2t vanilla extract to your strained almond milk

    coconut almond milk: add 1/2 c dried shredded coconut at the blending stage. don’t soak the coconut, it gets bitter.

    the leftover almond meal is a great source of protein – throw a little in a smoothie, stir into
    yr yogurt, or use as a base for raw cookies. ok to freeze and use later.

    thanks again for sharing your research through these wonderful and informative posts!

  11. Why do you go through more than a dozen eggs a day? Very interesting! It takes us a week with two adults and a baby. How do you make your own coconut milk? I love all things coconut!

  12. Hi Katie -I read in a post that you dont like to use agave –I thought it was natural and from a plan –Would you explain?? Thank you Lee

    • Agave is plant based, but it can contain more fructose (70-94%) than high fructose corn syrup (something like 40 or 50% fructose). If I’m remembering correctly, agave syrup also has a tendency to interfere with hormones, and cause blood sugar issues. Someone please correct me if I got this wrong.

  13. Although I don’t know the ages of your children, it sounds like most of them have started life in your real food setting. Do you have suggestions for me with two kids, ages 7 and 9, who have had grains for most of their lives and really don’t like giving them up? I am transitioning to less grains, but breakfast is really tough. And they are really into crackers/pretzels, etc. snacks. My 9 yr old has ADHD and ODD, so I believe cutting grains will help her, but I am getting a lot more ODD behaviors with not having her favorite foods available as they were.
    I know we have to retrain them to eat differently, I could just use some suggestions for how to go about it. Don’t know if you have already posted about this. Thanks.

    • Becky, you may want to read Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride’s information about GAPS. She used nutrition to cure her son’s autism as well as heal clients of OCD, ADHD/ADD, depression – it’s quite amazing. I’m starting down the recovery road as well – which is why I found this site! Thanks, Wellness Mama, for practical advice in going grain-free.

  14. these are great tips!

    please, please, please be careful about storing meats above raw produce and other ready-to-eat foods. you dont want raw meat juices dripping and causing contamination… that can cause salmonella, e.coli, and other sicknesses.

    be well!

  15. Hello! I was wondering if you have a recipe for hot sauce you could share? I’ve tried one made with jalepenos in vinegar, but I didn’t quite like it. You mention you use tomatoes for yours, and I’m very curious!

    Thank you!

  16. Looks a lot like my kitchen! We canned tons of things out of this year’s garden. We also go to a local farmer’s market and buy local organic veggies in bulk while they’re in season then I can them to use throughout the off season. I also have herbs from our garden in various stages of drying hung all over my pantry. I wasn’t aware of the BPA lining in most cans, I thought that was just a concern in plastic. Thank you for that insight! I’m glad we can our own in mason jars the majority of the time!