Don’t be caught without the right ingredients! Stock your pantry and dinner will be smooth sailing!
Today’s post is a little different. Today I thought I’d share with you some of my pantry must-haves. There is nothing worse than deciding on what to make for dinner, only to realize you really have nothing to work with. With a pantry stocked and ready, dinner could be easy and stress free (well almost stress free, right?)
Let’s get starteD. A few of my staples are:
Black Beans – I use black beans in so many recipes, they are a favorite of mine. I use them in chili, salads, with pasta and nachos. Plus with only a few additional ingredients, you could have a quick vegetarian burger for any night of the week.
Canned Corn – In general, I prefer fresh fruits in vegetables. Corn is just one of those vegetables that taste good enough out of can, especially since I usually combine the corn with other ingredients. When corn is in season, I will typically buy fresh. I use canned corn in chowders and potato soup, in salsa and chili.
Diced or Crushed Tomatoes – Tomatoes are the work horse in the kitchen. I typically stick with crushed tomatoes in most recipes mainly because my kids don’t eat chunks of tomatoes, I use diced or crushed tomatoes almost daily. They are staples in recipes like chili (we eat a lot of chili), vegetable soup, marinara sauce, lasagna. Canned tomatoes will work as pizza sauce in pinch.
Jarred Marinara Sauce: Sometimes you are just in a hurry.
Broths: I like to keep at least two cartons of both chicken and beef stock available for soups, stews, sauces and casseroles. However, at least one can of vegetable broth is good to have for meals that require a mild tasting liquid and of course for meals served to those who do not have meat in their diets.
Rice: Brown rice and white rice are good to keep in your pantry. My personal favorite is Jasmine rice. I like it because it is quick cooking. I think it tastes better than traditional white rice, but this is my own preference.
Grains: I like to keep a bag of quinoa, couscous and barley in my pantry. The are a healthy, lean alternative to pasta and white rice. I love adding quinoa to chili and salads. I also love eating quinoa as it’s own dish.
Pickled Jalapeños and or Green Chilies: You have to add heat to certain dishes, especially Mexican meals. In case you forget to buy fresh jalapeños, the canned or pickled will do nicely.
Jarred food – I like to keep jarred items like pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and capers in my pantry. They are nice to mix into salads, dips, burgers and sauces. However, they are also perfect on their own. Tops jarred pesto with pasta for a quick sauce, or use marinated artichoke hearts as a burger topping in place of pickles. While these aren’t necessary a “must-have”. They are most definitely a “try your best to keep handy”.
As for baking: I always have two bags of flour, sugar, powdered sugar and brown sugar in my pantry. There isn’t anything sadder then not being able to finish baking. You cream your butter and your sugar as per the recipe instructions. You add your eggs and vanilla but go to add your flour when lo and behold, you don’t have enough. If you like to bake, keep extra!
Baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla are all a given.
Extracts: The world is not plain vanilla. I like to keep peppermint extract, lemon, almond and coconut extracts also.
Evaporated Milk: Sometimes I like to use evaporated milk in savory recipes in place of milk. Like mac and cheese or this chowder. It keeps the sauce creamy but is just a tad bit lighter. Plus I often run out of milk, but if I have evaporated milk in my pantry, then I know I will be fine!
Sweetened Condensed Milk: Perfect for fudge, toffee, and peppermint patty bark. Sweetened condensed milk is used in magic bars, brownies, ice cream too. It is important to keep several cans of this stuff! It is used so often.
Nutella; Because I’m not always in the mood for chocolate. It makes a fabulous whipped cream too!
Shortening: My frosting wouldn’t be the same without it! Plus, it helps chocolate melt to the perfect silky consistency.
Creamy Peanut Butter: This one is obvious, I won’t say more. Good for savory food also.
Oils: I like to keep both Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Corn Oil accessible. While I use olive oil the most, corn oil is a mild substitute in salad dressings, sautéed vegetables and for frying.
Vinegar: White vinegar (good for cleaning purposes too), cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar are all my favorites. Balsamic is wonderful in sauces, salsas and drizzled over chicken or beef and to caramelize onions. It also quite delicious in sweet foods as well.
Granola: Granola is a fabulous way to add crunch to cookies, fruit crumbles, bars, parfaits and ice cream topping.
Corn Syrup: Corn syrup is must for homemade marshmallows and certain candies. It’s also essential for certain pies or in this case Pecan Pie BARS.
Apple Sauce: Apple sauce can be used to cut fat in baked goods. You can replace fats in muffins and cakes with unsweetened applesauce. It works well in making homemade granola too.
Pie Filling: You never know when you need a quick dessert. You can use pie filling in cakes, parfaits, trifles, bundled with pie crust or used with puff pastry. You can also add it desserts like pavlova or smoothies.