One of my summer projects was to go through all the cookbooks and cooking magazines I had saved for the past few years; about 5 boxes full! I love to look at cookbooks. In the front of a majority of cookbooks you will find a section on "pantry basics". They list everything you should have on hand in your pantry at all times.
There's a problem with that. Not all people cook the same. For example, I'm not much of a baker. So baking powder is going to go bad in my pantry and end up being a waste of money. I also don't use a ton of spices. I have certain ones I consider "stock" but I don't have paprika or celery salt in my pantry. And contrary to your grandmother, you can't keep spices forever. When it comes to spices, which can get expensive, I consider how many times I might make that recipe. If it is something that I would only make say 4 times a year and the spice I need is 1/8 tsp, I'll do one of two things. Either I won't include that recipe in my "rotation" or I'll find another spice that could fill in for it, or maybe leave it out all together. Don't feel like you have to buy these expensive spices for one or two recipes. There are websites out there that can tell you what to substitute, or like I said, in very small amounts, most likely you won't even miss it.
I went through one of these "pantry basics" lists from one of my favorite cookbooks and thought through my most used recipes and my cooking habits. Out of 50 something items, I would only use 23!! What a waste of money that would have been for me to just follow the list and go buy those "basics".
Here's the point.... go through your recipes, the tried and true, the ones you make a lot, and maybe some new ones that you're pretty sure you WILL use a lot, and make a list of those basics. When I say basics, I mean things like.....
garlic salt (my fave, Lawry's coarse ground with parsley...use it in almost everything!)
baking soda (even if you don't bake, you can use this for so many things!)
I think you get the idea. As you see, right now I'm talking about seasonings and condiments. Next post, canned good basics you should have in your pantry.
Until Next Time.....