A Home Cook’s Kitchen Pantry
Some of the Ingredients I Like To Keep On Hand for a Quick & Easy Meal
What ingredients do you want to have on hand so you don’t have to run out to the market every day?
Just like my must-have kitchen tools, you may consider having these staples in your kitchen so you can whip up a delicious meal at a moments notice. Most of these items you can find in your local supermarket and some you may need to order on-line, but they will definitely make your cooking life easier and more fun.
It’s important to remember that some products with long shelf lives, like spices, lose their flavor over time. So you may want to toss the ground cumin that hasn’t seen the light of day since that special grilled shrimp dish three years ago. And if you have a deep pantry like mine, you may want to check in the back every once and awhile to see what’s there.
So we’ll start with some of the basics and you can add to them according to your own cooking enjoyment:
- Anchovies: a must for many pasta sauces, flat filets in a can or anchovy paste.
- Artichokes: canned hearts packed in water.
- Beans: an assortment of canned (easier) or dry (more work but tastier).
- Bread crumbs
- Capers: great in salads and pasta dishes.
- Chutney: great for crackers and sauces.
- Clam juice: a good substitute for fish stock.
- Corn meal: great for dredging foods and a must for polenta.
- Coconut: either shredded in a can or coconut milk or better yet, both.
- Cornstarch: for thickening sauces
- Crackers: assorted types.
- Dried fruits: apples, apricots, currants, figs, and raisins.
- Dried herbs: basil, bay leaves, chili powder, cinnamon, dill, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, crushed red pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme.
- Extracts: vanilla is the most important, but try orange and almond.
- Flour: unbleached all-purpose
- Jams, Jellies, Preserves, and Honey
- Ketchup: always have an extra bottle on hand.
- Mushrooms: an assortment of dried including shiitake, morels, and porcini.
- Mustard: Dried and Dijon in a jar
- Oils: Olive, pure for everyday cooking and virgin for drizzling, canola, and sesame.
- Olives: canned, pitted and non-pitted, nicoise and calamata and olive paste
- Pasta: an assortment of shapes and sizes; dried
- Peanut butter: I like the chunky style.
- Peas: canned petite style. Fresh is better, but these are good to have on hand
- Pepper: whole peppercorns, ground black and white pepper.
- Pesto, Tapenade, Salsa
- Rice: Arborio (for risotto), brown, white, wild (not really a rice but a long grain marsh grass).
- Salt: regular and sea salt.
- Salad Dressings: my favorite is Good Seasons
- Sauces: Soy or Tamari, Tabasco, Teriyaki, and Worcestershire
- Stocks: see below
- Sugar: white and brown, granulated and confectioners
- Tomatoes: canned – whole plum, paste, and puree; sun-dried
- Tuna: canned, packed in water.
- Vinegar: balsamic, white wine, red wine, rice wine.
- Wines: Marsala, Madeira, and Sherry