I don’t know if the new year is inspiring people to cook at home more often, but I’ve gotten more emails in the past month about the foods I keep my kitchen stocked with than ever before.
Well, you asked, and I answered! I thought a post highlighting the freezer, fridge and pantry staples you’ll always find in my kitchen, which I use to create easy, everyday meals with, would be the perfect topic to kick off my new “Back to Basics” blogging series. Every so often I’ll answer your basic cooking questions like how to perfectly cook rice, and how to saute chicken so it doesn’t turn into shoe leather.
Friends, it is possible!
If you have a Back to Basics post request, please leave it in the comments section below!
As I mentioned, today’s Back to Basics post covers the freezer, fridge, and pantry staples I always have on hand to make everything from soups, to casseroles, stir frys and more. Stock up on these essentials and you’ll be shocked at how easily you’re able to build a meal, and how little you’re able to buy at the grocery store each week. I swear my list is normally fewer than 15 items long, and most of them are fresh produce.
Remember, this isn’t a full inventory of what I have in my kitchen (you won’t find regular weekly purchases like milk and eggs, or snacks in this list,) rather it’s the staples you can easily add fresh ingredients to, to build healthy, wholesome meals.
(Also remember that a “well-stocked” kitchen doesn’t mean a “well-organized” kitchen. Full disclosure – I definitely cleaned up for you guys!)
Stock up on fruits and veggies to make smoothies and stir frys on the fly. Buy meat and fish on sale then thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before you want to use. Reheat bagels and breads for 20 seconds in the microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, then toast like normal.
- Vegetables: corn, edamame, peas
- Fruit/berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries
- Ground beef
- English muffins/bagels
- Hash browns
These long-lasting items are staples in my fridge. (I know some people don’t store potatoes in the fridge, but I do!)
- Cheddar cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Dijon mustard
- Hot sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Chili garlic sauce
- Buffalo sauce
Canned Goods / Shelf-Stable Items
These items are great for making soups, stews, pastas, crock pot meals, and casseroles.
- Chicken broth
- Marinara sauce
- Tomato sauce
- Petite diced tomatoes
- Black beans
- Baked beans
- Canned artichoke hearts
- Chipotles in adobo
- Coconut milk
- Peanut butter
- Brown basmati rice
- Jasmine rice
- Wild rice blend
- Pasta – spaghetti + cut pasta like rotini, orzo, gemelli, or rigatoni
- Panko bread crumbs
- Maple syrup
You should be able to make any basic cookie or cake recipe with the following items on hand.
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Cocoa powder
- Dried fruit/nuts
- Old fashioned oats
- Corn starch
These are the most common spices called for in most recipes I use. I’ve also included everything you need to make your own taco seasoning and seasoned salt!
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic salt
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
- Dried oregano
- Dried thyme
- Dried parsley
- Grill seasoning
- Red chili pepper flakes
Oils / Vinegar Staples
The following oils and vinegar will let you create and cook everything from salad dressings, to basic sautes and stir frys.
- Nonstick spray
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Almond or grapeseed oil
- Canola or vegetable oil
- Sesame oil
- Low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free Tamari
- Rice vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
Garlic and shallots/onions seem to find their way into everything I cook. I always keep a big bowl of them on the counter.
Food Storage / Protection Staples*
Store food in the fridge and freezer, and more using these food storage staples.
- Glad Press ‘n’ Seal
- Parchment paper
- Ziplock freezer bags – gallon and quart-size
- Ziplock sandwich bags
- Wax paper
Alyssa @ My Sequined Life 01.08.2014
This is a great list – thank you! I always keep quinoa and low-sodium chicken broth on hand in the pantry (love to cook quinoa in in). For the days when we both work late and get home famished, I keep several premade veggie burger patties, individually-packaged, in the freezer. Perfect for eating as a burger, chopping up on top of a salad, even adding to an omelette!
Thank you for this list! I am going to do a full kitchen clean next week and I can use this list to start from scratch! :) The things I get excited about now…..sigh…
Wow, thanks for this! Love to know what I should have around when I’m looking for something too grub.
I’d love a back to basics on cooking quinoa. Call me crazy, but literally every time I make it, it’s disgusting. Overcooked, grainy, bland, you name it…my quinoa blows. Please help!!
Her last post just discussed how she cooks quinoa.
Love this list!!! So excited for the series!
My back to basics question is what types of pots and pans should I have. I have a cast iron dutch oven, a normal sized skillet, a HUGE frying pan, a regular old non-stick dutch oven, a small sauce pan, a medium sized sauce pan and a really deep sauce pan. Oh and a cute little saute pan. I feel like I have all my bases covered, but if there is anything else you would suggest, that would be great!
Steph | Pretty Little Things Blog 01.08.2014
this post is really helpful, I;m trying to be more efficient in my kitchen and with my wallet – thanks! : )
LOVE this. Do you have any suggestions on ways to organize your kitchen? Been trying to figure out a way to organize my spices, in particular, for FOREVER.
erin @hooleywithaz 01.08.2014
i’m still saving this, but for the first time in my life, i am at a point where i’ve found that i am able to keep the staples in the house and it’s been so long since i’ve needed to run to the store because i don’t have something for a last-minute recipe. makes me feel like a grown up!
Back to Basics – How to Cook Fish! I feel like when I cook fish (generally buy frozen and thaw), I overcook it because I’m so paranoid I’m not cooking it long enough so I Google a recipe and read “cook fish until done” – um, yeah I figured that. I just want to know for different fish – salmon, tilapia, fresh shrimp (even precooked shrimp – how long is too long in a skillet dish?). I know how long it takes to cook crab legs now thanks to your post the other week, but these others are still on my “to learn” list.
Chicago Jogger 01.08.2014
I have a suggestion – smoothie basics! I have the green monster smoothie down and make variations of it, but I’m wondering if there are other combinations you recommend and/or tips on making the best smoothie!
Back to basics idea?
How to cook perfect eggs, different styles
Great list. I am horrible with keeping basic items in my house, which results in multiple grocery store trips a week! I would love to see how you out together a stir fry sauce, I can’t get it right. I think I may need to try that chili garlic sauce!
Nvm, I just found your old post about stir fry, Yay!
[email protected] 01.08.2014
I can’t keep chocolate chips in the house as a staple, they always end up getting eaten instead. No self control when it comes to chocolate.
Great post! I keep my baking stuff in the same place – Lower corner cabinet/lazy susan, your stash looks just like mine :)
Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness 01.08.2014
Love this! So simple but so, so needed! Thanks for this!
Kelly @ Femme Fitale 01.08.2014
I love this list!!! I always struggle to keep up my freezer staples!
Brie @ Entrée the Giant 01.08.2014
Back to basics = brilliance.
Cannot wait for this series! Great lists and super helpful to us all. :)
I am excited for this new Back to the Basics series!
I love the way you explain things. A visual learner’s dream .
To your frozen fruits, AKA smoothie ammunition, I’d add Trader Joes frozen mango and frozen pineapple.
Another staple in my freezer is frozen brown rice and frozen pasta. (Got the inspiration from Trader Joes, but I make and freeze my own). I can’t tell you how many times they have come in handy. They have been a life saver for those days when we are running from lessons, practices, etc… Difference between eat at home and grab take out.
Great lists! I added a few things to my week’s list. You are right, a well stocked kitchen makes cooking at home so much easier. Thanks!
These are great! I’m a single girl, so food doesn’t get eaten quite as fast as in a family, so it’s great to have a reminder of what I can have and keep for awhile so I can still make good meals for myself.