Here are 10 ingredients you should always have on hand:
- Flour: Useful not only for baked goods like cupcakes and cookies, this staple can also come in handy for making simple gravies and sauces and for adding breading to meat, like chicken fingers and pork sandwiches.
- Olive Oil: Whether using it to grease a cake pan, cook veggies or meat on the stove or as part of a salad dressing, olive oil is one of the most important pantry essentials. You can also use it in lieu of butter to save a few calories!
- Rice: Stir frys, burritos, soups and side dishes can all be created with this versatile grain as a base. Keep a bag of your favorite variety (white, whole grain or wild) in the cupboard and use it to supplement your fresh veggies and meats that are about to expire.
- Peanut Butter: Morning, noon or night, you can’t go wrong with this childhood-favorite spread. Make a PB&J, slather it on toast, add it to your oatmeal - or just eat it by the spoonful when there’s no one around to judge.
- Salt & Pepper: Everything tastes better with seasoning, and salt and pepper are both the simplest and most important. Sprinkle one or both into scrambled eggs, on top of salads, into pasta sauce or to season any kind of meat.
- Noodles: Similar to rice, noodles can supplement virtually anything in your fridge, from meat to veggies to cheese. Make spaghetti with jarred tomato sauce, a casserole with canned tuna, or if your cupboards are really bare, simple buttered noodles with Parmesan cheese.
- Bread Crumbs: Liven up a boring chicken breast or pasta dish with some seasoned bread crumbs. Meat can be breaded and grilled up in a pan, and pastas like mac and cheese – even the boxed Kraft variety – get a little kick with bread crumbs sprinkled on top.
- Sugar: Another baking essential, this ubiquitous sweetener comes in handy when making coffee or tea or to sweeten up bland yogurt or smoothies. If real sugar isn’t your thing, Splenda or Truvia are fine substitutes.
- Canned Goods: When you’re out of fresh food, it’s always nice to have some canned goods to fall back on. Stock up on soups, tuna, canned fruit, and even Spaghetti O’s if you feel so inclined, to crack open during those weeks that you’re just too busy to go to the store.
- Dessert Mixes: If you ever find yourself in the mood to bake but without key ingredients like eggs and butter, you can save yourself a trip to 7-Eleven with some just add water mixes. Buy your favorite cookie, muffin or pancake mixes when they’re on sale and dig them out to brighten up a rainy day.
What are your kitchen must-haves?