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Basic Cooking Staples for Every Pantry

jars and canisters stored in a pantry

Are you a kitchen novice that suddenly caught the cooking bug? Looking to cut back on how much you spend on eating out? Or maybe you want more control over your diet and the foods you intake? Whatever the reason, cooking at home can help you save money, lead a healthier lifestyle and enjoy some cheap, at-home entertainment.

However, for the novice, it might be daunting and intimidating to look at recipes that include ingredients of spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables, meats that you've never even heard of or know how to pronounce. As when learning all new things, start with the basics and start simple.

Before you even embark on your many food adventures, stock your pantry with some basic supplies so as to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Below is a list of pantry staples that will help keep your kitchen humming with cooking on the regular.

1. Good Quality Olive Oil

There are many different types of cooking oils out there such as canola oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, but the most commonly used is olive oil. There are also a variety of olive oils: extra virgin, virgin, extra light and refined. Extra virgin and virgin olive oil is most commonly used in everyday cooking and salad dressings, while refined olive oil is good for deep frying foods.

2. Chicken (or Vegetable) Stock

Chicken stock is great to have on hand for cooking soups, simmering vegetables and risotto, and for adding flavor and juiciness to stove-top and oven prepared dishes. Add a little when baking chicken and rest assured you won't accidentally dry it out.

3. Dried Pasta and Rice

Having pasta and rice in the pantry at all times ensures that you'll always have something quick and easy to prepare. Try whole wheat pasta as a healthier option, and pick up a variety in different shapes. Brown rice is the healthier alternative to white rice, although there are a ton of options to choose from such as wild rice, long-grain rice, short-grain rice, etc. Rice is a versatile grain, but keep in mind that some take longer to cook than others, so find what you like and plan for it.

4. Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste

Many recipes will start with one of these ingredients so having a few cans of each, as long as you have the room to do so, is ideal. These ingredients are used to start many sauces, stews, braises and purees.

5. Canned Beans

You can't go wrong with these! Not only are they economical, a great source of fiber and protein, and a key staple in many recipes, but they also come in a wide selection of colors, and flavors.  

6. Dried Herbs and Spices

Many just go out and get a spice rack, which is not a bad idea. Spices can be quite expensive, but will last a long time. Some of the best and most-often called for include sea salt, garlic salt, garlic powder, fennel, cayenne pepper, ginger powder, coriander and cumin. If you already have an idea of the flavors you like, go with those.

These staples are a great start. As you expand your cooking horizons, you'll slowly start to accumulate special ingredients and start to realize your preferred flavors and tastes.


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