Bonus Post: My Pantry Basics
One of Jon’s co-workers asked me for this after he brought in some leftovers one day. I think it was West African Peanut Soup. Usually even something that seems exotic is actually very easy and requires very few ingredients you need to go out and buy.
This is my list of basics, things that I always try to have on hand. When you’re searching for recipes and you cook from scratch, it is much easier to decide what to cook when you already have a stocked pantry.
One thing I love to do is go shopping based on my pantry basics. Then I get home and search Pinterest based on what I feel like using. For instance, a search for “chicken and black beans” will give you everything from enchiladas to soups and burrito bowls. And if you shop based on my pantry basics, you’ll probably have everything else you need to make whatever you choose. And the good thing about cooking is that you can almost always substitute. You can always substitute brown rice for white, or honey for maple syrup, or parsley for cilantro (but not always cilantro for parsley). Whatever, just go with it.
Also, when it comes to produce, always buy what is on sale. That is when it will taste the best, because it means it’s in season. Do not buy strawberries in October or Brussels sprouts in April. They will have traveled a long distance and will taste like nothing. Just wait until they start to show up in the bins with the cheapest prices. I’ll try to mostly post my recipes by season.
I’m also going to link a few great articles here.
This one will tell you which produce you should buy organic and which you shouldn’t worry about.
And this one will tell you when different kinds of produce are in season at which times.
Here are my pantry basics, divided into categories:
Grains and starches:
Long pasta (linguine, spaghetti, etc)
Short pasta (penne, rotini, etc)
Potatoes (whatever kind is on sale)
Beans (black, kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, pinto, re-fried, etc)
Tomatoes (crushed, diced, etc)
Cream of mushroom soup
Cream of chicken soup
Sauces and condiments:
Jars of marinara sauce
Vinegars (rice wine, balsamic, white wine, red wine, white, etc)
Real maple syrup
Oils and baking:
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc)
Corn muffin mix
Always garlic, onions, lemons, and other citrus. Other than that, buy what is on sale because that is what is in season.
Always some kind of salad greens, whatever you like or is on sale.
Always some kind of fresh herbs, whatever you like. Parsley goes with everything.
Meats frozen and portioned out for your family:
Bone in, skin on chicken thighs
Ground beef, turkey, or chicken
Boneless pork chops
Ricotta or cream cheese
Parmesan cheese wedge
Cheddar cheese block
Mozzarella cheese block
Salty or soft cheese (blue, goat, or feta)
Salt and Pepper
Raw plain nuts (almonds are versatile)
[originally posted 8/17/2016]