You literally sign up for responsibility when you sign your apartment lease. After moving into my own apartment, I learned that owning "my own place" meant paying bills on time, maintaining utilities (like fixing broken lights or busted pipes), and learning the art of building a perfect pantry. Unlike home, I can't shuffle downstairs and pour myself a bowl of cereal unless I buy cereal first. Box meal services are great for inspiration or for busy weeks, but the power to cook, create or bake a dish is much more satisfying. Below is a list of what to buy, when, how often and how to store foods to create your perfect pantry. 

Prep for Success

Karina Arnold

Know what you like and buy what you like. Do some internal reflection and think about what foods you enjoy and what is practical for your lifestyle. For example, my dog loves treats - thus, I am sure to stock up on bags of treats so she has a steady supply for weeks. Buying treats are more practical for me than making them from scratch. Furthermore, set yourself up for success by not having temptation laying around. A pantry full of sugary cereals and chips makes unhealthy snacking and late-night munchies a habit. However, don’t deprive yourself, because let’s face it, “nice-cream" doesn’t cure a bad day like classic Ben & Jerry’s. You perfect pantry should have a balance of the health food with the soul food.  

Bulk Up 

Karina Arnold

Buy spuds (pictured above), grains, beans, seeds, nuts, granola or oats in bulk. These foods generally have long shelf-life and buying in bulk uses less plastic packaging. Some sauces, dressings, and jams along with pickled items can last for weeks. However, be sure to watch out for nasty preservatives in many of these dressings and jams. And, pro tip: buy bread in bulk and store the loaves in the freezer.

Weekly Buys 

Karina Arnold

By stocking your pantry with non-perishable necessities, your grocery store trip is cut in half. Buy yogurt, fruits, and vegetables weekly. Other dairy products like milk and cheese can be bought every other week, along with deli meats and juices. Pro tip: Freeze fruits and veggies to thaw and eat later or use in smoothies.  

Be Extra 

Always have "gab-n-go” snacks or quick meals in your perfect pantry. You can plan your week to the second, but life has a habit of throwing curve-balls. I, personally, am usually not keen on cooking after getting home after a long, exam-filled day. Great, quick options are Amy’s frozen meals or KIND bars along with fruits that come with their own packaging, like apples, pears or bananas. 

Super Storage 

Karina Arnold

Look around next time you meander through the grocery store. Look how the food is stored. Use this as your #inspo food storage. Grocery stores want bang for their buck, so they store their foods to preserve the longest shelf-life. Like grocery stores, you can generally place your fruits and vegetables in a non-sunny spot on your counter unless they are cooked or chopped. To keep your berries super fresh, wash and remove from plastic container and transfer them onto a paper-towel. Then, place them on a plate in the fridge. 

Ordering take-out every meal is not sustainable for your health or wallet. It is easy to ignore grocery shopping and meal prep when the dignified Mc Donald's arches glow through your window. But, if you take a deep breath and follow my tips and plan your pantry right, you can make grocery shopping easy and breezy.