I make the same chicken dish three times a week, mainly because it’s simple and easy. But, it’s also BORING! I always hope to try new recipes, but anything with more than seven ingredients seems intimidating. And if it has exotic ingredients, requiring me to write them down on a shopping list — and actually buy them — it never seems to happen. It becomes just one more to-do on an already overflowing list. So when Pantry, which bills itself as a curated shopping experience, opened up five minutes from my home in Brookline, I couldn’t wait to try it.
Located in Brookline’s Washington Square, Pantry lets you quickly grab everything you need to make a restaurant quality meal. All the ingredients are pre-packaged and pre-measured. There are dozens of recipes to choose from, and they change often. At each recipe station inside the store, you simply put all the pre-packaged ingredients in your basket — and you’re done! Want a wine or beer pairing? No problem — Pantry has you covered. Want an appetizer, like scallop miso soup, or a dessert, like pear upside down spice cake? Yes, they have that too! Recipes can be bought to serve two or four people and cost $9 to $12 per person. Each recipe comes with a two-sided, color-printed, step-by-step instruction sheet.
On my first trip, I tried the chicken pad Thai and shaken beef. As an advanced beginner chef, I found the instructions to be, for the most part, very clear. The pictures in addition to the written steps definitely helped.
The chicken pad Thai was AMAZING! It was just the right amount of sweet and spicy. I still can’t believe I actually made it — and how easy it was!
The shaken beef was great, too. It tasted very similar to the luc lac beef dish you get at a Vietnamese restaurant, and the sticky white rice and watercress balanced out the meal in a way I would have never thought of myself. Co-founder and Chief Gastronomic Officer Amanda Mayo (also a new mommy) and her team at Pantry really know their stuff.
What I love most about the Pantry experience is that there is no waste. If I had gone to a regular supermarket to buy these ingredients, they would be expensive and would likely rot away in my cabinets before I used them all. With Pantry, my dinner was quick to prepare (about 30 minutes), easy (items are pre-measured), and elevated way beyond anything I would normally create on my own.
Pantry really brings the best of subscription services (pre-packaged ingredients) and the supermarket (selection) into one store, but without all the negatives, like monthly commitments or long check-out lines. And, with new recipes being added each week, I can’t wait to go back to Pantry and try another recipe. Who knows, chicken pad Thai might become my new go-to chicken dish!