Contrary to popular belief, a French girl can not live on croissants, red wine, and chocolates alone, although that would be loads of fun to try! In reality, a French girl will typically keep a kitchen full of French standards for weekly meals and for those “just in case” times when friends drop by unexpectedly. After all, eating at home with friends and family is much preferred over a restaurant meal, even for a single French girl!
So, what exactly is in a French girl’s kitchen? Unlike many Americans, you will not find frozen dinners, chips/pretzels, or even multiple bags of candy and sweets. She has more refined tastes than that. If I were a French girl, here’s what you may find me stocking my pantry with throughout the year….
Stocking the French Pantry
Daily: To guarantee freshness, a French girl will purchase these items on the day of the meal.
- Fresh bread – A French girl knows that bread is best when it’s hot and fresh, and, preferably crusty!
- Pastries – Although she does not overindulge in this area, a French girl will buy her pastries and other prepared desserts from her favorite local patisserie, the morning or afternoon of her special event – but just enough for her guests!
Weekly: A French girl will purchase most of these items on a weekly basis, depending on her storage space how much she entertains.
- Fresh cut meat, poultry, sausage – She will often befriend the butcher in order to secure the best cuts of meat!
- Cheese – Gruyere, brie, chevre, parmesan, just to name a few
- Vegetables: Carrots, celery, potatoes, artichokes, leeks, mushrooms, spinach, beets, asparagus…the list goes on and on!
- Wine – She will use this for cooking and drinking, but just a glass or two!
- Fruit – Melons, berries, peaches, plums, apples, pears, grapes, and lemons for desserts, sauces, and her frothy citron presse! As always, she will buy her fruit based on the seasons, as is the custom in France.
- Yogurt – Although French girls would prefer to make her own, it’s not uncommon for them to buy a few cartons of natural, plain yogurt per week for cooking and for breakfast.
- Fresh herbs
- Olives and other relishes
Monthly: A French girl will buy these staples once a month or as needed during the month.
- Cream – She can use this to whip together a last-minute sauce for crepes or even a dessert topping. Cream lasts a little longer than milk in the fridge, but it may not get to through whole month before spoiling. But then again, it may not last a week before she uses it all!
- Butter – Even French girls don’t shy away from butter. They are notorious for using butter, and lots of it, in their dishes.
- Onions, shallots, garlic – Like herbs, they provide much of the quintessential taste of French food, without the added salt.
- Chicken stock – She will use this as a base for most stews, soups, and sauces. I’m sure most French girls can make their own chicken stock, but my gosh – the time! There are very good options for chicken and vegetable stock (organic and non) at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and other specialty markets.
- Dijon mustard – A French girl will often mustard to vinegar/oil dressings for binding and to add tons of flavor. Even if you don’t like mustard, try it with vinegar/oil and you may surprise yourself!
- Canned items – Although a French girl prefers to buy things fresh whenever possible, canned items, such as tomatoes and beans, are often the go-to staples in a French pantry during the winter months. They are great for sauces and for thickening stews and soups.
- Dried Items – Rice, beans/lentils, pasta, mushrooms, oats/grains
- Nuts – Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, etc.
- Unsalted butter – Overly salted food is a no-no for a French girl. She’s sticks with unsalted butter to control the salt in her food. Be warned, unsalted butter spoils faster than salted butter!
Annually: A French girl will buy the best quality of these items – but only a few times a year!
- Olive oil – She uses it for cooking, vinaigrettes, or just for dipping!
- Dried herbs – Flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, basil, etc.
- Sea salt
- Vinegar – White wine, champagne, red wine, and balsamic are some of her favorites!
- Sugar, flour, brown sugar – for all her baking needs of course!
- Ground chocolate and/or baking chocolate
As you can see, what’s great about French cuisine is that many of the ingredients that are typically used in French dishes are simple, easy to find at your local market, and can be stored in the pantry or the fridge for more than just a few days. Now, the real question is – How French is Your Pantry?