A while back someone asked me to share what ingredients I keep stocked in my pantry (and fridge) to allow me to prepare quick, home-cooked meals everyday. I do have non-perishable staples which I consider essential to my cooking, but I don't have a lot of storage space in my kitchen (the equivalent of one medium-sized kitchen cupboard for all canned goods etc.) so I try not to keep too much on hand. So without further ado, here's what you can find in my kitchen right now:
THE FAMILYFOOD LIST OF ESSENTIALS
- Oils: extra-virgin olive (salads, sauteing); peanut (frying, wok-cooking); sesame, walnut, truffle (embellishment)
- Vinegars: sherry, balsamic, apple cider, red wine, rice
- Salt: coarse and fine sea salt, Kosher
- Pepper: black, and a blend (always from a grinder), ground white pepper (for Asian dishes)
- Sauces/Condiments: dark soy sauce, white soy sauce, Bragg's Liquid Aminos, fish sauce, worchestershire sauce, ketchup, mayo, mustard (hot-sweet, horseradish, dijon), anchovy fillets in olive oil, capers (salt- and brine-cured), olives
- Canned veg: whole plum tomatoes, beans
- Canned fish: Italian tuna in olive oil, salmon
- Chicken broth (2 boxes)
- Pasta: various shapes, but mainly spaghetti and penne (our faves). I buy DeCecco (or Barilla) for everyday pastas and I stock up when they are on sale. I prefer dried pasta to fresh pasta, but I do make fresh pasta once or twice a year and freeze any leftover dough.
- Other noodles: soba, rice vermicelli
- Grains: rice (short grain, jasmine, basmati—we eat mostly brown rice now), whole wheat cous cous, bulgur wheat
- For baking: Unbleached all-purpose, cake, and whole wheat flours; baking powder, baking soda
- Sugars: regular and brown
- Coffee: regular and espresso
- Dairy: half-and-half for coffee, yogurt, cheese
- Non-dairy: soy and rice milks
- Jams (I am a jam freak)
- Peanut butter
- Unsalted butter (also frozen)
- Assorted lettuce (I eat salad every day)
- onions (yellow and green)
- Herbs stored in a glass of water with plastic bag over
- Frozen veg: peas, corn, edamame
- Van's waffles
- Morningstar Farms "sausage" links
- Assorted meats/poultry (for example, we stock up on whole chickens and rib-eyes when they are on sale)
- stock in plastic tubs
- pie crust
On the counter
- garlic, bananas, avocados, tomatoes, other fruit in season
As far as spices go, unless I am cooking something that requires a specific spice or blend of spices (like Indian or Morrocan dishes) I don't really use them everyday. I prefer to stick with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs.
I also shop for veggies at my local Farmer's Market so what is in my fridge depends on what looked good that day. I can't think of a vegetable or fruit that Bunny won't eat and we try to keep an abundance around for her. She eats one whole carrot and one apple or pear a day (I am not kidding) in addition to loads of salad.
I try to buy seafood the day I cook it.
Lastly, we don't eat meat everyday. We eat lots of fish and red meat no more than once per week (if that). I am not a fan of chicken unless it is roasted and that I will do once or twice a month. We probably eat more pork than anything else. I love soup so I make some form of soup about once a week and my soups are usually veg based with meat as flavoring if it is included at all.