Ingredients Every Home Cook Needs in the Pantry – The Ten Most Important
If you don’t like to cook, you probably don’t like to go grocery shopping. One of the ways to make your grocery shopping trips shorter is to stock your pantry with staples. These non-perishable items have a long shelf life and are the base of a meal. Keep a running list of these items and replace them as they get low. If you buy them when they’re on sale, you’ll also save money. If you keep your pantry stocked with the following items, you’ll only have to go to the store for the fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products you’ll need for the week.
Apple cider vinegar is perfect to cook with and to use in salad dressings. It’s not as sharp as white vinegar and not as strong-tasting as red wine vinegar; it gives acidity without an overwhelming taste. You can use it in any recipe that calls for vinegar.
Make a habit of using chicken broth in place of water when you cook rice, stews or vegetable dishes. For a few extra pennies, you’ll take your food from bland to delicious. You can also use chicken broth for beef and pork recipes. There’s no need to stock both types. Buy the chicken broth that has no salt added or that is low salt.
Buy Grey Poupon Dijon mustard made with white wine. Don’t buy a store brand; the taste difference is that significant. Dijon mustard is essential in making salad dressings and for imparting flavor to sauces and stews.
For cooking, extra virgin olive oil is the best fat to use. It has no trans fats, it’s not a saturated fat, you can heat it to high temperatures and it won’t burn, and it tastes great. A good quality olive oil can be expensive, but it’s worth it. Buy small quantities of a few different brands and taste them right out of the bottle. Buy the one that tastes the best to you. Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for salad dressings too.
The best mayonnaise to use changes its name depending on which part of the country you live in. East of the Rockies it’s called Hellmann’sAÃ¯Â¿Â½; west of the Rockies it’s called Best FoodsAÃ¯Â¿Â½. Mayonnaise is essential as a base for sauces and dressings. Don’t buy Miracle Whip. It’s made with sugar and tastes too sweet.
If you always have pasta in your pantry, you can always throw together a fast meal. Buy whatever brand, shape, and length of pasta your family prefers. For an easy meal cut any vegetable into small pieces. Heat olive oil and add the vegetable and salt. Cook the pasta and add the cooked pasta to the cooked vegetable. This one dish meal is simple, easy, surprisingly delicious and good for you. With pasta in your pantry, you can always fix a quick meal.
Salt makes other flavors pop. Herbs and spices become more intense when you add a bit of salt. When you add salt to vegetables they cook quicker. No kitchen, or cook, should be without it.
Buy both diced and crushed canned tomatoes. Diced tomatoes have larger tomato pieces and crushed tomatoes have thicker juice. Find a brand of canned tomatoes that you like and stick with it for consistent results. Canned tomatoes have a richer flavor than fresh tomatoes.
Even if you don’t bake, you’ll need white flour to thicken sauces.
Enriched long grain white rice makes an easy side dish. Just add butter and salt to the cooked rice. Always have it in your pantry. Brown rice is better for you, but it takes longer to cook.