Friday, March 9, 2012

Run your kitchen like a restaurant

One of the biggest savers of time and money for me is to run my kitchen like a restaurant and trust me, some days, especially the weekends, I feel like a short order cook! I try to avoid this though by keeping meals very simple on the weekends but I plan what I'm going to cook and what I'm going to buy by keeping the same things stocked in my pantry all of the time. I have the same quantity of ingredients and restock every fortnight. Meals are always varied and many different dishes and cuisines are achieved through these basic ingredients.

I've never worked in a restaurant before but I do have domestic cooking experience on my side. I think from watching so many cooking shows and reading so many cookbooks, I've realised that most of the cuisines in the world and most of my favourite dishes all contain the same basic ingredients.  You'll find that restaurants would stock these same basic ingredients and plan the menu based on seasonal produce exactly the same as I do in my domestic kitchen.

A glimpse of my pantry - use a lazy susan to access jars in deep cupboards
An Indian household's pantry would differ greatly from say a family of say Thai origin, but mine has a little bit of everything. I maintain the same level of these pantry basics and that's what makes up my shopping list. I have learnt very well to substitute with these basic ingredients. My favourite web site is A Cook's Thesaurus.  You enter an ingredient and it offers a substitute. As I mentioned previously, my fruit and vegetables are bought in season and meat (or protein) bought on special for $10 per kilo or less. Meat isn't always on the menu. I substitute the protein with pulses.  You might be thinking that we eat the same things day in, day out. Well, we don't.

My pantry lists - given to me as a Secret Santa gift a few years ago
Lovingly covered in domestic goddess Michael Miller fabric

There are quite a few online pantry lists you can use or print your own. For example, one called Pantry is available for free to download and can be synced to your iPhone. (I haven't tried this as I don't have an iPhone but it's worth a look.) Create a simple spreadsheet or word document breaking up your pantry contents into Dry Goods, Fridge and Freezer. Laminate them and write in whiteboard marker the contents and quantities of your pantry cupboard, fridge and freezer. Create your shopping list each week/fortnight/month from these documents and also create your weekly menu plans from these lists. 
Stay tuned for my pantry list and my views on menu planning. 

This post is part of domesblissity's THRiVING - Thrifty Living feature.



  1. I need to get more organized like you! I make a 2 week menu but it is just scribbled in a notebook :)

  2. Can't wait to see your pantry & meal planning ideas! I need some inspiration.

  3. Wow Anne is that your pantry? It is SO well organized and looks so efficient. Hey can you come organize mine!!! I am so impressed!!!! I love all your ideas and will go to some of these web sites. And I love your pantry lists!! THANKYOU for all this great info. Believe me I am planning on using it.

    Also THANKYOU for commenting on my last two posts. Both are such easy recipes. You made me laugh about your daughters pasta snobbishness. I have one grandaughter who only likes grated parmesan on her noodles too. Period. So I can relate. I personally really enjoyed the spaghetti. I think it would be easy and great to take to a potluck too. Thanks again.

    Luv u girlfriend,


  4. Great tips! Thanks for hosting!

  5. Oh, I love the pantry program you shared! You're so wonderfully organized....I need to do better pantry planning so thanks for these amazing tips!


  6. I have finally got my pantry under control and well stocked. I love that I can bake things with what I've got and don't need to go to the supermarket every time.

    I have started do all the "prep" for lunch and dinner, like make sandwiches and chop veggies after breakfast so I get a lot of the meal and dishes done so arsenic hour(s) isn't so horrible. Works really well.

  7. Is that your pantry . Am so in love with it. . ...

  8. It looks like you and I are very similar in our approach to feeding our family's (and feeding them well! :)
    I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your posts on this and learning from you pantry! :)

    ~ Sally

  9. I was hoping you could share where you bought the containers! I am in love with the largers boxes on the top shelf!

  10. I'm in love with that pantry:))

  11. I love your idea. Im starting to buy those nice air tight containers from oxo to organize my pantry. im curiuos about those container that u have. it seems like they have a handle is that right. where did y get those?

  12. The pantry is from this website here - I dug around to find it because I was particularly interested in the containers myself, too.

  13. Love your pantry ideas Anne and the top pic reminds me of the storeroom at my TAFE!

  14. Can you share where you found the storage plastic-ware in the pic? Especially the top ones w the handles. Love, love those shelves.


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