A line from the sound of music came to me as I prepared to write this post: “let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” And when it comes to cooking or baking gluten free, I completely agree. You can master all of the skills of cooking, baking, or substituting, but if you don’t have the ingredients, it’s going to be more than a little challenging to make the food.
Below is a basic pantry guide for the dry goods I like to keep on hand in a gluten-free kitchen. By no means is this an exhaustive list, and depending on the types of food you like to make, you may decide to adjust the basics. Also, know that this can take some time to build. If you are starting on a more limited budget (like I was) then you may prioritize the part of the kitchen you start with.
Assess the ingredients in any dry goods you already have. Donate to a local food bank any unopened food with wheat, wheat byproduct, gluten, or that was made on equipment shared with wheat. Give the rest to your friends or family.
Take this opportunity to organize your pantry. Use clear plastic or glass containers with labels on them (repurposed glass jars with masking tape work fine for me!) to store your dry goods. If you can clearly see what something is, and it is organized in a system that makes sense, you are more likely to use the food you have. Some systems that might work for you are:
- Purpose (baking, savory, spices, snacks, other)
- Size (small like flour or sugar, medium like seeds quinoa or rice, large like beans or nuts)
- Quantity (things you need to buy in bulk versus those you only need small amounts of)
Be creative! Changing to a gluten free diet is a big life change. Begin investing in alternatives that are immediately appealing as well as some (in small amounts at first) that are a little more adventurous. For example, common ingredients are: rice pasta, beans, gluten-free oatmeal. Adventurous ingredients might be amaranth, garbanzo beans, and cassava.
Be money wise. If it is expensive to buy gluten free lasagna noodles, consider using other noodles to make a deconstructed lasagna bake.
Be thorough. Having a variety of ingredients at hand allows you to establish new meal favorites, as well as adjust family favorites and traditional dishes. Below is a starter list based on my kitchen that I hope you find helpful. Happy stocking!
- Homemade granola
- Gluten-free Oatmeal
- Your new favorite cereal
- Chia seeds
- Dehydrated fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots, plums, etc)
- Black beans, dried or canned*
- Pinto beans, dried or canned*
- Garbanzo beans, dried or canned*
- White or Northern beans, dried or canned*
- Red lentils
- Basmati Rice
- Wild Rice
- Rice pasta, penne and spaghetti
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
- Almond meal
- Cashew meal
- Tapioca Starch (for thickening)
- Baking Soda
- Cream of Tartar (for making Baking Powder)
Dried Herbs + Spices
- Sea Salt
- Cayenne Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Crushed Red Pepper
*NOTE: be careful with canned goods. Some brands will contain wheat and/or gluten. Know which brands are safe for you!
**NOTE: for some, the proteins in quinoa are too similar to gluten, and may cause a reaction. Know your body!