Having a well stocked pantry is key if you want to cook a lot. In my pantry right now, I bet I could make at least 5 full meals without going to the grocery store. I think of the pantry as the go-to place for last minute home cooked meals and snacks. I also always keep some ingredients to make last minute appetizers incase friends decide to drop by!
So what to have??? It depends on what you like to eat, but here are some suggestions that come out of my pantry!
Pasta and canned tomatoes for sauce (can't go wrong with spaghetti on a Sunday night!)
Rice- makes a great base for whatever you happen to have in your fridge.
Crackers- I always keep a fresh box of these around incase of impromptu entertaining
On that note, I always have jarred gourmet olives, marinated artichoke hearts, jarred semi-dried tomatoes and jarred roasted red peppers to put together a little antipasto with no effort!
Really good extra virgin olive oil (if you don't know what really good is, it's cause you haven't had it. Continue to try new brands until you find one that tastes like velvet!)
**On a side note, what makes olive oil extra virgin? The term "extra virgin" is the first few presses of the olives; said to have the most flavor. The rest of the presses are used to make regular olive oil.
Vinegars- I keep like 6 different vinegars around, but thats not necessary, just keep whichever ones you like making salad dressing with. I would suggest balsamic or red wine vinegar, these are the most common.
All the things necessary to make chocolate chip cookies! (cause you never know when a craving is going to happen!)
Dried herbs!!- Yes, fresh herbs are the best, but when you are putting together a meal with what you have on hand, dried is the way to go. Keep on hand ones that go with what you like to make. I think I might have all of them in my house. . . maybe I cook too much : )
Wine! (need I say more?)
Some of the fresh food staples that I always have around are:
Onions- I put onions in everything and they have such a long shelf life, it's nice to always have these on hand
Garlic- dido to the onion
Lemons- great to marinade or flavor meats and pastas. Great for desserts or drinks. The best part is, as soon as they start going south, I use them as a cleaner. Cut the lemon on half and rub all over your counters and rinse. They are also great to grind in your disposal so it smells yummy : )
Salad "stuff"- I make salads everyday. They are an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients and lets face it, you can never get enough of those!
In the freezer:
Ice cream (just cause!)
Frozen fruit- throw some frozen fruit in a small pot with some water and sugar, heat and you've got a beautiful sauce to serve over ice cream for a delightful dessert with little effort!
Nuts- Yes I keep nuts in the freezer for a longer shelf life. Nuts can be added to just about any salad, entree or dessert! I love to have almonds, walnuts, cashews and pignoli (pine) nuts around.
What's in your pantry?