Over the years, I’ve learned how to shop and cook smarter by meal planning and rotating my favourite meals, I’ve learned how to stock a capsule pantry in order to simplify meals, save money, and stretch ingredients across multiple meals. I’ve also paired these strategies with learning how to store fresh food properly so it lasts for longer than just a few days.
All of these things have allowed me to lower my grocery bill while cooking & eating nutrient-dense meals daily. I learned about the concept of a capsule pantry a few months ago while doing some research, but I soon realised that I’ve had a capsule pantry for quite a few years. I just didn’t know there was a special name for this intentional method.
What is a Capsule Pantry?
A capsule pantry is made up of essential foods (ingredients). Foods that you love and use. Foods that can be used to create multiple meals. While most of us think of a pantry as just dry goods, this concept applies across the board to the fridge, freezer, and actual pantry (dry goods).
A capsule pantry simplifies not only your pantry space but also simplifies planning and preparing meals. When you have a pantry that’s stocked with ingredients and foods you love and use, creating simple, nourishing meals is easy.
A capsule pantry is essential to me, it makes it easier for me to create simple, wholesome & nourishing meals every day – even on those days I don’t feel like cooking (even though I LOVE & ADORE cooking, I find it therapeutic.)
How do you Create a Capsule Pantry?
Think about the meals you regularly make. (Remember the collection of meal ideas and recipes you’ve been keeping and using to create regular meal plans? Well, this list is going to prove valuable as you build a capsule pantry.) Bread? Granola? Spaghetti? Soups? Curries? Nourish bowls? Pasta? What ingredients do you use to regularly make these meals? What foods does your family regularly enjoy as snacks? Berries? Yoghurt? Granola? Start a list and keep it going.
TO GET STARTED: Go through your current pantry (remember, this includes fridge, freezer, and actual pantry). Take everything out. Donate non-perishable food you don’t use. I know, there was a good intention behind purchasing these items, but it’s time to let it go and simplify. Toss food that’s expired. Toss condiments that you don’t ever use, or use them ASAP if they’re still good. Ask yourself the following:
- Do I use this regularly?
- Can this ingredient be used in multiple ways to build meals and feed Khushi & me?
- Do we love this?
In the actual pantry, sort food into categories that make sense to you, such as canned ingredients (tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, etc.), baking ingredients (cacao/cocoa, coconut sugar, etc.), dried fruits, snack foods, and seasonings.
When you notice something is getting low, make a note on your grocery list and restock it. When an ingredient is about to run out, I add it to my weekly grocery shop that I’ve scheduled on my Google Calendar.
GROCERY SAVINGS TIP: When you rely on a rotating list of meals, you know the ingredients used most often in your kitchen. When these ingredients / foods go on sale, stock up. Another way to save money is to purchase your most-used items in bulk from Costco.
What I Stock in my Kitchen
- Lettuce or baby salad greens
- Baby spinach or kale
- Leeks & onions
- Fresh herbs like coriander, parsley, basil, mint etc.
- Lemons & limes
- Potatoes: white potatoes and/or sweet potatoes
- Seasonal fruit & vegetables
- Bell peppers
- Mushrooms (loads of them)
- Basmati rice
- Old-fashioned Rolled Oats
- Almond butter and/or Peanut butter
- A variety of lentils
- Pasta such as tagliatelle & macaroni
- Extra virgin olive oil & coconut oil
- Dry yeast
- Baking powder
- A variety of nuts, seeds & dried fruit
- Cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- Coconut sugar
- Honey & maple syrup
- Tomato puree
- Canned tomatoes
- Soy sauce
- Nutritional yeast
Spices and Seasonings
These are the most common spices used to make a variety of homemade meals…
- Chilli powder
- Bay leaves
- Garlic powder
- Red pepper flakes
- Vanilla extract
- Black pepper
- Pizza flour
- Self-rasing flour
- Rye flour
- Wholemeal flour
Fridge and Freezer
- Plant milk such as oat milk & coconut milk
- Plant yoghurt
- Vegan butter
- Block of cheddar cheese
- Vegetarian parmesan cheese
- Vegetable & mushroom stock
The ingredients and foods stocked in your capsule pantry should be carefully curated by you, based on your lifestyle. I recommend keeping a list of these ingredients/foods – use a piece of paper or a note app on your phone.
How do you use a capsule pantry?
A capsule pantry simplifies life and empowers you to prepare wholesome & nourishing meals on a daily basis without spending a fortune on unique ingredients.
I am well-known amongst family and friends for putting together healthy & delicious meals with whatever I can find in the pantry, fridge & freezer – even when it looks like there’s nothing to cook with.
A capsule pantry is your source for creating simple, real-food meals on a regular basis. Your capsule is the place to turn, along with the list of your favourite meals, to easily create meal plans.
Once you know what you have in stock, what needs to replenish, and any special ingredients you may need, build a grocery list (you may already have a few items on that list from noticing what is about to run out).
Meal Planning Tip: Before going to the grocery store each week, shop your kitchen first. Take a look at what you have in the fridge, pantry, and freezer. Ask yourself the following:
- What can I make using the ingredients stocked in my kitchen right now?
Write down what you plan to make with the ingredients in your kitchen. Always start here before going to the grocery store and buying new food for the week.
Please remember: A capsule pantry is not built overnight, it’s a process, an intentional way to simplify a real food lifestyle. Building a capsule, along with building a list of favourite meals, takes time. If you’re new to real food, be patient. Experiment with simple, nourishing recipes. (Most of the recipes shared on Live Simply are based on my capsule pantry.) Keep a list of recipes you love making and your family enjoys eating, and the common ingredients used to make these meals. This list will help you build your capsule pantry, one ingredient at a time.