Pantry Must Haves - Ocean County Moms

Kathleen Ashmore is a social media star, with 1.7 million followers on TikTok alone. Every day, Kathleen (aka Kat) shares recipes and secrets from her chef days. So what does a TikTok chef, and busy mom, keep in her pantry—and more importantly, how does she keep it organized? We asked Kat to share – and here’s what she said.

What are your pantry essentials – items you can’t live without?

Olive oil – An essential that I use every day in my meal prep.  I buy it in bulk and decant it into a smaller glass bottle I keep on my counter.

Apple Cider Vinegar – I use this a ton in salad dressings, or when something needs a hit of acid.  I made a quick sauce with mustard, honey, and apple cider vinegar that I toss sweet potatoes in and use to brush on grilled chicken or salmon too.

Dijon Mustard – Maybe my favorite condiment.  Its complex flavor adds so much depth to sauces and dressings.

Canned tomatoes – My son, William, and I make sauce very weekend.  It’s become a ritual I love very much, and he takes such pleasure in crushing the tomatoes.  It’s more fun than finger painting for him.

Coconut milk – I don’t do a lot of cow’s milk, so I use coconut milk a lot.  I use it in soups, curries, pasta sauces, and baked goods.

Chickpea and brown rice pastas – We eat these pastas often, especially my kids.  I keep at least 3-4 shapes on hand.  I usually stock penne, a short pasta like elbows or shells, and a long pasta like spaghetti and linguine.

Legumes:  Chickpeas, lentils, white beans – I always say that if I have a can of beans in the pantry I have a meal.  Two super quick meals I make when I have 15 minutes and want something healthy are:

2 olive oil fried eggs with lentils and kimchi

Chickpeas simmered in spices, coconut milk, and tomato paste and served over rice


What are your favorite pantry organization tips?

Create Zones

Store like items with like items:  beverage items in one zone, convenience snack items in another, etc.  The more targeted your categories are, the less places you have to look.

Utilize the Right Storage

Use baskets and containers to corral small and awkward items.  Partially eaten bags of chips, tubes of tomato paste, etc. are prone to tipping and falling over.  Remove the consistent annoyance of this by giving them sturdy homes.


Function over Form 

Those baskets and containers we just talked about should be hard sided and clear.  Opaque and intricately woven containers can be beautiful, but often do the opposite of what they’re intended to do because you can’t see what you have.  This is about making your life easier, above all else.


Do you have any spring cleaning rituals you do for your pantry?

I do a full clean of my pantry every Spring, taking it all out and cleaning everything.  This also gives me the opportunity to purge expired items or ones that I bought in bulk when my kids loved it and then they decided they hated it two weeks later (which happens more than I’d like to admit)!

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Photo Credit: Christine Han

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