The pantry. Kind of a big subject. You could talk about the types of flours you could have, or the range of spices, or even how to organize your pantry. That’s why this blog is the first in a multiple part series wherein each blog will cover a very specific part of the pantry.
For this first blog, I’m going to talk about the very, very basic dry ingredients that I have in my pantry at all times: pantry staples. So part one of the ” Pantry Basics: Pantry Staples” series starts with…
Why the Basics are Important
Having pantry staples available at all times makes cooking simpler and easier. When you always have ingredients on hand, you:
- Can make food (mostly) from scratch instead of running out for takeout
- Don’t have to make constant trips to the store
- Have a wider range of dishes you can make at a moment’s notice
- Can actually make food at a moment’s notice (or at the end of a long day; when you’re just uninspired; when you want something simple… you get the idea)
When you have canned and diced tomatoes, lemons, frozen chicken breasts, garlic, and pasta, you have a simple and easy meal without going to the store!
Pantry staples also making cooking less expensive.
Let’s say a recipe calls for flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder, peaches, yogurt, and… passion fruit (just because). Your pantry staples include flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder. That means you only have to buy peaches, yogurt and passion fruit. See? You cut your grocery bill down for this recipe just by having staples.
The Staples in My Pantry
I’m starting this section with a disclaimer: these are staples for my pantry. My cooking is mainly Mediterranean-based with a little bit of Middle Eastern and (of course) New Mexican thrown in there. That means that my staples are going to be different than someone with more Latin-, East Asian-, South East Asian-, Indian-, etc. based diets.
Also, this isn’t an exhaustive list—it’s a basic look. There are also staples in here that I won’t break down in this post but I will in a post down the road. (I don’t want this post to be 800 words long.)
In short, the basics I’m listing here are for more Western and Mediterranean dishes, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of what pantry basics look like and build yours accordingly. In my pantry at any given time, you will almost always find at least:
|Oils and Vinegars||Important Basics||Canned Goods||Baking|
|· Olive oil||· Salt (kosher, Himalayan pink, and Fleur de Sel)||· Tomato sauce||· Flours (AP, cake, whole wheat, bread, pastry, coconut, almond|
|· Coconut oil||· Pepper (ground and whole peppercorns)||· Canned tomatoes (diced and whole)||· Sugars (white, brown, powdered, Baker’s, coconut)|
|· Balsamic vinegar||· Rice (white sushi, brown, Jasmine)||· Tomato paste||· Vanilla (pure extract and the actual beans)|
|· Apple cider vinegar||· Pastas||· Honey|
|· White vinegar||· Rolled oats and steel cut oats||· Baking powder|
|· Rice vinegar||· Nut butters (peanut, almond, even cashew sometimes)||· Baking soda|
|· Mirin (rice wine vinegar)· Sesame oil||· Basic spices (basic, Italian, paprika, cumin, etc.)||· Yeast|
|· Worcestershire and liquid smoke||· Chocolate (dark, semi-sweet, bricks, and chips)|
Again, not an exhaustive list. But I can guarantee that (unless I’ve run out and keep forgetting to put it on the grocery list…) I have these basic staples in my pantry at all times.
And again, your list will depend on what you cook regularly. So how do you do that?
Some Tips on Building Your Own Staples Collection
How did I build my pantry staples collection? Part of it is based on the food staples I grew up with. The other half I’ve just collected over the years from recipes/new food interests and discoveries.
The staples listed above you’ll find in many western kitchen and they’re a great place to start, but to start filling your own pantry staples collection out:
- Take stock of what you use regularly
- Think about what you reach for when you need comfort food
- Think about what you reach for when a recipe just needs another layer of flavor
- Think about the staples you grow up with
Take stock as you cook. Or, if you don’t cook that often, look at recipes you would like to cook. What shows up the most? Work off of that to give you a start building your own pantry full of staples.
‘Till next time!
Could you include a blog listing more basic herbs and spices?