50 ingredients, endless food

Too busy to cook? Hi, I’m Lauren, and I see you. I’m a late-20-something living in the District of Columbia. This is my little internet kitchen.

The protopantry aspires to be the young hustler’s guide to easy, affordable, and (mostly) healthy grocery shopping and cooking, with just 50 basic ingredients. It’s a kitchen system for a new millennium—a minimalist pantry template that works for you.

I believe everyone can be a chef. High-quality, home-cooked meals don’t have to be fussy or complicated, nor do they have to be boring or routine. I took 50 basic ingredients, and created dozens of recipes to address the most popular reasons why busy bees don’t cook:

1. “Grocery shopping and cooking is too complicated for my busy brain.”

You’re probably right, if you don’t have a system. Going to the store without a plan and figuring out what to eat every day can be exhausting. Fortunately, I’ve done that work for you. This blog has recipes for every meal and gathering, and a shopping list and pantry guide that serves as the foundation of your food life. Stock your pantry, and choose a meal. You’ll have what you need. Simple.

2. “I waste so much food when I grocery shop. Sometimes it’s cheaper to eat out.”

I’m all about that no-waste life, and I exclusively use basic, whole-food, affordable ingredients.

With a handful of exceptions, everything on the protopantry shopping list either lasts several weeks or months, or freezes easily with little to no prep work. The protopantry is designed to minimize food waste without sacrificing taste, variety, or nutrition. This frees you up to stock up on staples when they’re on sale, or bulk-buy from stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.

To ABSOLUTELY minimize any potential for food waste, learn to freeze your apples, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, milk, eggs, and heavy cream (directions are included in our community members’ pantry guide), use lemon crystals to add lemon flavor to recipes that call for lemon, and use spinach or easily freezable greens when possible.

3. “I don’t have time to meal plan, and I enjoy spontaneity in my eating adventures.”

The protopantry works equally well for meal-planners and non-meal-planners alike. Every single recipe on the blog is made from the very same pantry staples. And because the vast majority of the items are non-perishable, freezable, or take a long time to expire, you don’t have to worry about what you will or won’t get around to eating during any particular week. Your core grocery list is always the same, so all you have to do is assess your inventory and replace the missing items.

When you don’t have to think about your whole refrigerator full of food expiring, you have the flexibility to dine out when you want to, cook a special meal, or travel for work and play without stressing about wasting money or energy on food you have to throw away. The blog is here to serve.

My dream is to create dozens of pantries for different flavor profiles, so you can mix up your cooking capsule from month to month and from year to year. I’m on the proto-protopantry now, protopantry “season one” if you will. Join me for the journey ;)

Happy cooking, Lauren.png

proto- /pɹoʊtoʊ/, [pɹoʊɾoʊ]


  1. first

  2. (linguisticsgenetics)  most recent common ancestor

  3. (chemistry) Relating to protons and/or positive charge.