Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Perfect Pantry - A must have for a kitchen

Every kitchen should be well stocked with basic ingredients so you don't have to keep running to the store to get things like salt and pepper or chicken stock. I have listed items that I feel are important to have on hand in your kitchen/pantry. These will get you through most recipes and most of them will last a while in the pantry or in the refrigerator. There are probably a few more items that I keep on hand that aren't listed, but they are not necessary essentials. 

My dream pantry

These first few items are the essential six staples to always have on hand

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Vegetable Oil
All-Purpose Flour
White Granulated Sugar

Canned Goods 
Low sodium chicken and beef broths are best to keep around because they let you control the seasoning as needed. I try to buy low sodium beans, too. Make sure to have the non seasoned tomato sauces (not Italian or Mexican style) because seasoning from the spice rack can be added unless the recipe calls for the seasoned tomatoes specifically.

Chicken Broth
Beef Broth
Canned tomatoes
Tomato sauce
Tomato paste
Can/jar of marinara sauce
Canned beans: white, black, kidney 

Starches and Dry Goods 
From the list below make sure you stock up on the items you like. I personally cook with penne or short pasta more than spaghetti because it's easier for me to eat without getting it all over myself.

Corkscrew pasta
Penne or other short pasta
Egg noodles
Long-grain white rice
Jasmine or basmati rice
Split peas
Dried bread crumbs
Orzo (short rice-looking pasta) 

Root vegetables 
I have always heard that onions and potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area—not in plastic bags or in the refrigerator, so that is how I store mine. I do however keep green onions on hand and they keep best in the fridge in my opinion.

Potatoes (russet, red, or yams (sweet potatoes))
Onions (red or white and green (scallions))
Garlic (Fresh)
Non Root vegetables but can be stored on the counter

Vinegars (balsamic, cider, white, sherry, and wine vinegars)
Soy sauce (low sodium)
Worcestershire sauce
Hot sauce (like Franks® or Tabasco®-red or green)

The Spice Rack 
Most of the following spices you can find dried on a spice rack that can be purchased at any home goods store. Prices range from $10-$50, but it's worth getting them all together rather than paying $3-$4 for individual bottles. When I run out, I buy them in bulk at the warehouse store and fill up the bottles in the spice rack.

Dried basil
Bay leaves
Cayenne or
Crushed red pepper flakes
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Dried parsley
Dried rosemary

Fridge essentials (Also known as the 'Man's Fridge' or 'College Fridge')
These items are must-haves in the fridge because they are used in many recipes and dishes.

Butter or margarine
Mustard (Dijon preferably)
Mayonnaise (reduced fat)
Parmesan cheese (good quality wedge of fresh if possible or the graded kind in the canister will work in a pinch)
Other cheese (shredded cheddar, mozzarella, or a shredded mix) 

Freezer essentials 
Having a well-stocked freezer will really help you on the nights you need something fast but don't want to go out to a fast food joint. 

Frozen corn
Frozen spinach
Frozen peas
Ground beef
Chicken breast
Frozen cheese tortellini

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