I like to cook. I like to eat. I cook pretty often for my family and friends, and some people wonder how I manage to do it. For starters, nothing I cook is fancy or complicated. I believe in homecooked food that is simple and simply tasty. I don’t make my own marshmallows or anything like that. I take advantage of short cuts that some real foodies consider cheating. To that I say pshaw! A meal shared around the family table is what memories are made of, whether I made my naan from scratch or bought the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s isn’t what matters.
The number one thing that makes it easy to whip up a meal is what staples I keep in my pantry. With just a handful of basics, I can make a kitchen sink stew or repurpose leftovers.
Olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil
White wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Herbs and spices
In My Pantry
Pasta of all kinds (penne, linguine, gnocchi, macaroni)
Rice and other grains (barley, couscous, arborio rice)
Dried beans of all varieties
Canned tuna packed in olive oil
Canned tomatoes (whole and diced)
Sun dried tomatoes
Wine (red, white, sherry)
Nuts (walnuts, almonds)
Panko and bread crumbs
In the Fridge
Cheese of all kinds
Frozen chicken sausage
Frozen veggies (peas, green beans, artichoke hearts, spinach)
I buy chicken and fish as needed. I also make frequent trips to my local farmers market. I’ve found that I can cook almost anything as long as I have good ingredients stocked in my kitchen. I believe that tasty meals can be fast, healthy, affordable, and easy. I’m not a trained cook; I just know what I like and I’m not afraid to experiment. Cooking is a creative process, and what you put in directly impacts what you get.
Now make a shopping list and carry on (don’t forget to bring your own grocery bags!).
So did I miss anything? What are your kitchen staples?