Key staples

Here’s a random list of things I usually have in my pantry/fridge that I tend to use fairly often:

  • Sauces — soy, fish, hoisin
  • Vinegars — rice, white wine, red wine, balsamic
  • Oils — olive, sunflower, canola, corn, peanut, walnut, toasted sesame
  • Dried pastas — spaghetti, fettucini, and tortiglioni
  • Rice noodles (“pad thai” style flat noodles)
  • Canned tomatoes — diced, crushed
  • Canned beans — chickpeas, red kidney, white kidney, black
  • Canned soup — chicken noodle (for sick days in front of the tv), tomato, cream of mushroom
  • Rice — Short-grain organic brown and basmati
  • The various powders – flour, baking soda, baking powder, corn starch
  • Sugars — white granulated, dark brown, confectioner’s
  • Cheeses — cheddar (2 yr old, usually), real parmasean in chunks, havarti, St. Andre, goat (herbed and plain), swiss, asiago, provolone, emmenthal, and (yes) Kraft Singles
  • Tortilla chips
  • Salsa (Muir Glen Organic — this stuff is so, so much better than the regular jarred stuff you see)
  • Salts — kosher, sea, table
  • Buckets and buckets of black peppercorns
  • Various spices, flavourings, and dried herbs — Chinese Five-Spice, curry powder, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, red chili flakes, vanilla extract (the real stuff), bay leaves, ground ginger, ground allspice, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom…etc.
  • Ketchup (Heinz)
  • Mustards — French’s (I’m a staunch traditionalist when it comes to French’s on a pastrami and rye), Dijon, whole-grain, balsamic mustard, chipotle-lime mustard, etc. We go through mustard probably 10x faster than we go through jams and jellies.
  • Fresh lemons, limes, garlic, and ginger root
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Maple syrup

Having all this stuff on hand makes it pretty easy to put together a quick meal. I still usually have to go to the grocery store to get fresh meats and/or vegetables, but without much forethought I can throw together a quick tomato sauce for pasta, a stir-fry (shitake mushrooms + bok choy + any given meat over noodles or rice), the ultimate comfort food of grilled cheese sandwiches with cream of tomato soup, or a killer vinaigrette for salad. Yum.


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