I always recommend having a pantry fully stocked with everyday fixings as well as last minute items for “I don’t have time to go to the grocery store and need to make dinner quick!” Most of us operate on the “what do I need now to get the job done” where we should be operating on the “what do we need for tomorrow night, not just tonight?” Having a well stocked pantry gives us a plethora of options every night of the week, even those nights where unexpected guests come over for supper.
If you asked 10 chefs what their key pantry essentials are, you would probably get 10 different answers. I have my own personal list but of course, feel free to customize this to the likes of you and your family.
- Kosher Salt: The only salt I use, except for Maldon and other specialty or finishing salts. If you use iodized salt, please stop what you are doing and throw it out right now…I can wait.
- Peppercorns: Always have these on hand as they will last a long time and it’s one thing I hate being without.
- Boxed Stock: Stock is a must have for quick soups, stews and pastas. I like Kitchen Basics no-sodium added. This way, I can control the amount of sodium.
- Olive Oil: Always buy bottles that are darker in color. This way, the dark tint protects the oil from exposure to light. When oil goes bad, you will know simply by smell so keep what you need or buy a larger bottle and refill your oil canister from it accordingly. Consider having a few different types of olive oil on hand. Everyday olive oil, vegetable oil and a nice finishing oil are good staples. I also like walnut oil for a little variety in my vinaigrettes.
- Vinegar: These will last forever so consider buying a few different kinds to provide ample options throughout the week. My favorites are white balsamic, champagne vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
- Canned Tomatoes: I love tomatoes and find that I go through them quickly! From impromptu spaghetti night to soups, stews, lasagna and sauces I am always covered. My favorite brand is San Marzano.
- Dry Pasta: Stock your pantry with a few different kinds for quick weeknight meals. Plus, they are great in soups and even salads too!
- Dry Beans: They carry a long expiration date so keep a few kinds on hand. My favorites are black and navy beans.
- Canned beans: From black beans to garbanzo beans, I love having canned beans on hand for quick weeknight meals. From salads to soups and even burritos, canned beans are ready to go and don’t require overnight soaking. Make sure you rinse them before eating to remove any excess salt.
- Sugar, Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder: You never know when a sweet-tooth may come calling so be prepared. Flour can be used in your baked goods but also for quickly thickening a sauce and sugar can sweeten anything from your morning coffee or smoothie to vinaigrettes. Keep these stored in dry and airtight containers.
- Dry Rice: Rice is a wonderful addition in soups, stews and even as a quick side dish for dinner. Consider getting a few kinds (brown, long grain, wild rice) for a little variety.
Now that we have our list covered, follow me to the store! We have some shopping to do.
Cheers to starting a new tradition around the table together!
Founder and true believer in the power of bringing people around The Table Together!