A well-stocked pantry can all the difference to coming up with a meal at any time. We’re talking about more than just canned goods and box mixes.
The object of having a well-stocked pantry is to be able to whip up a good nutritious meal at any time, even in an emergency. Basic starches are going to be a big part of that, as these are a major component of many meals. These should include some of your favorite foods.
Pasta should be at the top of the list in this category. Pasta is easy to cook and provides a good amount of basic nutrition. Having a variety of types and shapes can add versatility to your cooking.
Long grain white rice is the one most commonly found on tables around the world. While brown rice is more nutritious, white rice, including varieties such as jasmine and basmati, can be stored for several years if kept dry and away from pests.
Beans, lentils and split peas provide lots of fiber and protein, can be used to many ways and are always good to have around. We at The Bachelor’s Kitchen believe you should be making a pot of beans or lentils every month. They freeze well and can be used in many different dishes at all meals including breakfast. Also, throw in the split peas and you’ve got a good soup in no time at all.
Also in this category are dry cooking ingredients like bread crumbs and croutons.
Other cooking ingredients that belong in the pantry are cooking oils, sauces, and vinegar. They will keep for a long time — but not forever! You should always have at least three kinds of vinegar in your kitchen. Balsamic is a must for pan sauces and salad dressings. Cider vinegar adds a great zip to many dishes. White is not only handy for cleaning but a must for poached eggs and fish. Sherry and rice vinegar are flavorful additions to many foods, especially steamed or boiled vegetables. The same thought applies to cooking oils. You should have basic vegetable oil, extra virgin olive oil, and vegetable shortening, we prefer butter-flavored shortening. You can also have other oils for special purposes, like peanut, sunflower, canola, and popcorn oils.
Common sauces for the pantry are soy sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. These seasonings are essential in most modern cooking.
Spices also are items to keep in your pantry for months. But like cooking oils, they can go bad after a year or more. We like to have plenty of spices on hand for many different kinds of cuisine. Also, they are good at adding flavor to dishes where you’ve cut back on the salt. Spices can generally be grouped into four categories: spice, herbs, mixes, and flavorings. These are basics to consider:
- Dried basil
- Bay leaves
- Cayenne or Crushed red pepper flakes
- Curry powder
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried parsley
That pantry isn’t quite full. We’ve got more to add, coming up later. If there’s something you think we should add to our list, please leave us a comment.