The kitchen is a comfort zone for food lovers. Whether you cook or just eat, a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator are a must. Last-minute dinner for friends? A family-friendly meal? Maybe even just a home-cooked meal for yourself? Your pantry will get you all set if you keep basic ingredients at hand.
Here’s a list of the must-have ingredients in your kitchen.
An essential ingredient in your kitchen is cooking oil, whether it’s for pan-frying, salad dressing, or dipping crusty bread in. Oil is your friend. You can stock up on different types of oil like olive oil for cooking and save the more expensive extra virgin olive oil for uncooked dishes like salad dressings.
Consider experimenting on different kinds of oil and find ones that you like. Some oils have a much more pronounced flavor, while some are fruity, buttery, rich, green, smooth, or even peppery.
Also, if you’re only buying one type of olive oil, some good quality extra virgin olive oils are available in large bottles at the supermarket that won’t break the bank and are cheap enough to cook with.
A life-saving item to keep in your kitchen is pasta. A box of pasta surely saves you from those last-minute dinners by making an easy go-to pasta box recipe. You can also make a meal out of pasta and whatever you have in the fridge or pantry.
Consider different shapes for different dishes. Use small pasta for soups and stews, long skinny kinds of pasta for thin sauces, and chunky pasta for thick, meaty sauces. This could be an exciting bonding activity that you can share with your kids by letting them assist you in selecting different shapes—changing the shape of the pasta can quickly and easily refresh a favorite recipe. Also, try whole-grain pasta; it’s a simple way to incorporate more whole grains into your diet.
Pasta is another great item to stock up on because pasta has years of shelf life. A wide variety of pasta can be found at your local grocery store, too: Farro pasta, quinoa pasta, egg pasta with yellow noodles made from the yolks, and semolina. If you’re gluten-free, keep the portions small and the pasta whole wheat or grain. It’s good to experiment with various brands to find the ones you like.
Who can resist a simple grilled cheese sandwich as a snack?
Cheese is a staple ingredient whether it’s melted on top of vegetables or creamy cakes, or even a simple sandwich to a full-fledged meal.
Keep fresh blocks of Parmesan on hand for grating, as well as aged or soft cheeses to pair with dried fruits. That way, you can make a delightful charcuterie board anytime.
You can eat just about any viand with rice, from brown rice to jasmine or basmati. Rice is the very definition of a pantry staple. It’s a simple, low-cost ingredient with a long shelf life that can be used in various ways. Rice is a staple in over 100 countries around the world. You’ll be well on your way to creating a delicious dish if you keep this sure-to-please grain on hand.
These come in various forms, including whole (in puree or juice), crushed (in puree or juice), pureed, sauce, diced, and more. You can buy them whole and cut them up yourself, or you can save time by purchasing pre-pureed/diced/crushed versions. Crushed tomato puree vs. juice is sometimes available, resulting in a thicker sauce.
Breakfast jumpstarts the day, and eggs, whether it’s sunny-side up, scrambled, or turned into an omelet, make a difference when it comes to the most important meal of the day.
Eggs are less expensive than many meat sources while still providing a good source of protein. Eggs are a versatile kitchen ingredient that also contains essential nutrients.
In most savory dishes, broth can be used in place of water to add flavor and interest. Even steaming vegetables over broth adds flavor to them.
Canned or boxed broths are excellent and have a long shelf life – when refrigerated. A box of bouillon cubes is also handy to have on hand in a pinch, and some stock pastes can be diluted with water into the broth and take up very little space in the refrigerator.
It would be best to keep a variety of beef, chicken, and vegetable stocks on hand for different uses. If possible, choose low-sodium broths and stocks, as many of these broths and stocks are high in sodium.
Having condiments in your kitchen is important, from ketchup to mustard, soy sauce, and chili paste.
Ketchup isn’t just an ingredient to use as a dip for your fries, while mustard isn’t just something you use when you make a sandwich. Soy sauce, honey, chili paste, and Worcestershire can make good dressings and sauces. It can also be used for different types of marinades to make your cooked meal more savory.
Spices are a must-have in any kitchen. A good spice collection can make your dish have that unique flavor, from salt and pepper to use as a seasoning to cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, and cloves, which you can use as a marinade for meats, fish, and chicken.
Moroccan spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper are essential in meat and vegetable braises. Indian saffron can be used in fish soups and rice. Sweeter dishes benefit from the addition of cinnamon bark, vanilla beans, nutmeg, cloves, and sweet anise seed, which add depth and complexity. You can buy whole spices, then toast and grind them yourself to bring out the best flavor in them.
When it comes to salt, look for pure sea salt and keep a coarse and finer grind on hand. You can use coarse salt is to season boiling water and brines, while you can use fine salt is to season ingredients and finish dishes. Because sea salt contains trace minerals, it has a stronger, saltier, and more complex flavor.
Organic spices can be bought in small quantities so that large amounts do not sit unused and lose their pungency; It’s also advisable to store your spices in airtight containers for longer shelf life.
Flour can be used to make pasta, pizza, bread, cakes, and a variety of other dishes to feed your family, making it an excellent staple.
It is also regularly used as a thickening ingredient to soups, sauces, and even in making a roux. Also, if you bake a lot, it is good to keep flour at hand in your kitchen. That way, you can enjoy making those baked goods like brownies, cookies, and even cake without the hassle.
First, gather oregano, thyme, marjoram, tarragon, and sage.
What’s even better? Plant your own.
Salads, salsa verde, and tisanes can benefit from herbs such as chives, parsley, chervil, cilantro, mint, and lemon verbena.
You can also use stronger herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and savory, in your marinades and stocks. On the other hand, Savory is traditionally a seasoning for a pot of beans, while rosemary’s woody stems work well as skewers for cooking over the fire and the leaves roasted with almonds.
Butter, like cooking oil, is a staple ingredient that you can use for baking, making a simple brown butter sauce, or mixing into couscous or saffron rice. As they say, butter makes life better.
Canned tuna, salmon, sardines, clams, and even mackerel and herring are essential in your pantry. You can make your standard tuna salad or tuna sandwich. You can also make your own salmon patties or flake the salmon or oil-packed tuna and use it as a pasta topping. You can also experiment with different types of canned seafood and choose those that perk up your taste buds.
Canned salmon is a nutrient-dense food high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It also contains a lot of Vitamin B and niacin. You can combine canned pink salmon, which has a mild flavor, with canned sockeye salmon, which has a stronger salmon flavor due to its higher oil content.
A good collection should include distilled vinegar, red and white wine, rice, sherry, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar. You can use them in vinaigrettes, but you can also use them to pickle vegetables quickly, make a spicy dipping sauce, and marinate meat.
You can use dried vegetables, such as mushrooms, for soups and stews, bringing out a new flavor and that bite. You can marinate sun-dried tomatoes in oil and add it to pasta or a grain dish, and then just add the now-flavored oil to your sauce or dressing.
Having a well-stocked pantry with the kitchen essentials makes a difference in how you cook. There is much less hassle with taking multiple trips to the grocery store and buying these staple ingredients. To save more of your precious time, consider shopping online; a trusted online grocer that you can check out is Euromercato and enjoy a hassle-free shopping experience.