Setting Up A New Kitchen: Pantry and Refrigerator Essentials

Alright, so we are back to the grind.

3 weeks of vacation time went by quickly. We had a blast, first in Dubai and then in Maui. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and second baby moon. No emails, no work issues to distract us.

Till today. Vipul joined work from today. Varun will hopefully start daycare this week.

Life will go back to normal – or almost normal. As we still have an apartment to find, car to buy, find a midwife for me, and even basic things like get a cellphone with data plan.

To help us settle, Sony has provided with a comprehensive relocation package. We are put up temporarily in this swanky new apartment with breath-taking views on the city. The place is spacious, airy and very bright thanks to the large windows and the open floor plan complete with an island. Oh, how I have wanted an island in the kitchen all my adult life!

Cooking here is so much pleasure as I look out over the city skyline, Bay Bridge and the water. It’s as good as it gets. Dining with views while Varun plays with his toys. We are making the most of it as we probably won’t be able to afford a place with views once the temporary relocation phase is over.

The kitchen came stocked with basic tools ( knives, cutting board, cutlery and dish ware) and gadgets ( toaster, microwave, coffee maker); so all we had to do was stock up on pantry staples and groceries.  If you are looking to setup a kitchen from scratch, then Trent of The Simple Dollar has an excellent post on what you need and more importantly don’t.

It’s essential to start cooking meals everyday to make it feel like home instead of eating out all the time. A stocked up pantry is one time investment and it makes it easier to prep meals at home rather than going out. It was one of the first things we did. Even before we got a laptop.

We don’t have a pressure cooker or a blender – which I need for my Indian cooking – but I don’t want to buy one for just these few weeks. The list is tweaked to accommodate that. It by no means minimalist. But its certainly pared down compared to what I had in my kitchen in India.

We make a variety of meals and snacks: lot of sandwiches, salads, stir frys, pastas and tacos for lunch and dinner. Indian food is usually made on weekends. So before Vipul headed back to work, we stocked up our kitchen with essentials so we are set for the first week.

Oils, Condiments and Sauces

  • Canola Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar  (for dressing and chicken)
  • Stoneground Mustard
  • Lemon Juice
  • Pesto
  • Arrabiata Pasta Sauce
  • Hummus
  • Salsa

Indian Spices

  • Red Chilli powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Mustard seeds
  • Asafetida
  • Garam Masala powder
  • Cumin seeds

Other Herbs and Spices

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Pepper

For Chinese Cooking

  • Seasame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Siracha sauce

Breakfast and Cereals

  • Oatmeal
  • Honey Bunches of Oats
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee

Grains, Pasta and Sides

  • Barilla Whole wheat Rotini Pasta
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Long grain rice
  • Soba noodles
  • Basmati Rice
  • Toor dal
  • Moong dal 
  • Poha (beaten flat rice)

Canned goods 

  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Assorted soups
  • Organic low sodium chicken stock

Frozen goods 

  • Peas
  • French beans
  • Roti

Produce, Vegetables and Fruits 

  • Salad greens
  • Tomatoes ( Baby and Roma)
  • Baby carrots
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Brocoli
  • Red and Orange bell pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Pears

Perishable goods 

  • Mission style yellow corn tortillas
  • Multigrain bread
  • Organic brown eggs
  • Provolone cheese
  • Deli turkey breast

This is our list. What would you add to it? What do you swear by in your kitchen?

3 comments

  1. Hi R,
    Thanks for the post, and sharing the list from your kitchen. Enjoy the stay in downtown while you can. Not sure if you will continue to live in the city of SF or work your way to the Bay area. To keep it short, I strongly recommend the one stop COSTCO warehouse membership and you will be pleasantly surprised the variety of items including but not limited to kitchenware, produce, books, apparel, furniture, electronics etc. Although limited in their selections, but the warranties and quality is attractive. I am amazed with the organic food selections at COSTCO – quinoa, brown rice, cereals, You can even shop your new Car through Costco including the auto insurance. Please explore their website if you have not in the last year or so. I am not endorsing COSTCO, however, merely making a mention of their utility in your present circumstance.

    Two items for your kitchen – blender (blendtec or vitamix) and a mid size toaster oven. Again the above mentioned blenders can be bought through COSTCO.

    Good luck and enjoy the chilly gold coast.

    VNambori – frozen in the windy city.,

    1. I love Costco. I missed it so much in India. The apartments here are so small that I don’t think I have enough storage if I buy food from Costco. But yes appliances, car etc is something we will buy from Costco.

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