My family was overzealous pantry purchasers. We lived a ways out in the country on a farm, and we never knew when drifting snow would close our rocky off-the-beaten-path road. Even though I’m now a city-dweller, I carried that tradition into my own home, maintaining pantry items to stock up on – sometimes to the extreme. Which really worked out for me during the COVID-19 pandemic, when grocery shelves were emptied of the pantry essentials. Read on for pantry staples for ingredients you should always have on hand.
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Pantry Staples: Ingredients You Should Always Have
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It’s been impossible to avoid the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, no matter where you are across the globe. You might feel like you’re going stir-crazy having to stay inside and come up with new ideas on how to stay busy. You might be looking for work, helping your kids with e-learning, or working remotely, yourself.
But, whether you’re waiting for these lockdowns to end, answering your mother when she calls and asks “will senior citizens get the stimulus check?” for the hundredth time, or just trying to keep everyone happy and healthy, there’s one thing staying at home more has forced everyone to do – cook more.
Before the spread of this virus, about 82% of the meals Americans ate were made at home, already a high percentage. Now, though, as certain ingredients and supplies are scarce at grocery stores across the world, people turned toward their pantries to figure out how to pull together creative dishes. With that in mind, let’s look at staples for pantry items to stock up on to help you pull a meal together in no time!
Oils & Vinegar
I’m a huge fan of olive oil for cooking. Extra virgin olive oil has the added bonus of retaining its flavor during cooking — and it’s healthy. I always purchase two affordable (just over $12 each) 48-oz bottles of Pompeian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, one for now and one of the pantry items to stock up on.
I also really love herb-infused olive oil for cooking as it adds an extra flavor punch to cooking. Some of my favorite infusions are garlic olive oil, lemon olive oil, and basil, all of which are yummy to add as a marinate for chicken and fish.
Other items I stock in my pantry are apple cider vinegar (my secret ingredient in my homemade coleslaw) and red wine vinegar.
Baking Pantry Staples List
Baking is my jam. It relaxes and rewards me like nothing else. I love to put sweet-smelling baking goodness in my oven and I love how the scent wafts through the entire home.
My baking pantry staples list is flour, sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, cornstarch, and Bisquick baking mix — yep you read that right!
Bisquick baking mix is my go-to shortcut for baking, but when it’s not available (like it was during this recent pandemic), this is my recipe to make this baking mix at home:
Bisquick Baking Mix Substitute*
- 1 cup flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon, shortening, olive oil, or melted unsalted butter
*Equivalent to 1 cup of Bisquick.
Potatoes, Garlic & Onions
Fresh vegetables don’t keep as long, but potatoes, garlic, and onions can last for weeks if stored properly in a cool, dark place — which means all three of perfect pantry items to stock up on.
Onions provide a great flavor base for almost any meal, and there aren’t many fresh vegetables that will keep as long as onion will when it’s stored properly. Our family adds onions to almost every dish. Onions can last for weeks when they’re stored in a cool, dark place, which makes them perfect for the pantry! Even the simple onion can be a flavorful start for almost any casserole, pasta dish, or even to spice up other vegetable side dishes!
Store garlic in well-ventilated container or mesh bag. Again as long as not moldy or mushy, garlic are still usable when start to sprout.
Same with potatoes – store in a cool, dark and dry place, and cut off sprouts or green spots before eating. But do NOT store near onions as this causes both to spoil more quickly.
Spices & Seasonings
Salt is one of the most important food staples for your pantry items list! While table salt will suffice, maybe it’s time for an upgrade! Make the switch to kosher salt when it comes to cooking. One mistake many home cooks make is under-seasoning their food. Have you ever wonder why food in restaurants seems to be so flavorful? It’s because they’re using a lot of salt! Now, you don’t need to use as much salt as they might use in your favorite restaurant. However, you’ll be surprised at the difference in flavor when you make the switch from table salt to kosher salt in your dishes.
Black pepper is another must for your pantry items list. Some prefer freshly ground, so purchase bags of peppercorn for their pepper grinder. Personally, I stock up on the already ground pepper and don’t feel like I’m sacrificing flavor.
Other commonly used spices to add to your pantry items list: cinnamon, ginger, cumin, nutmeg, smoked AND sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, dill, and chili powder.
Rice, Grains, Beans & Pasta
While these are all different ingredients, it’s only fair to lump them together since they’re all equally important. Having rice, grains, and beans in your pantry at all times helps add nutrients and bulk to any meal, especially if you’re running low on other ingredients. Other important pantry items to add to this list are pasta, quinoa, bread crumbs, and panko.
These items are filling, and can really help to stretch out whatever you might be making, so they’re perfect to have on hand if you’re on a budget, or if you can’t get to the store as often as you’d like.
Add your most-often used canned goods to your pantry items list. Topping my list are canned tomatoes (whole and diced, tomato paste, and broth/stock (a combination of chicken, beef and vegetable).
While keeping these items in their original containers isn’t the end of the world, consider purchasing storage containers to transfer these items.
Have you taken a look at your pantry lately? If you don’t have these ingredients on hand, make sure to pick them up the next time you go to the store, and use them to inspire some new, flavorful, and exciting meals for your family. When you have staples like these, you’ll always be able to put together something delicious.