Food Staples ~ What's Always In Your Kitchen?

Raquel StecherAbout Me
Blogger at Thoughtful Eating and Vintage Brand New. Please add my to your circles.

What food items are staples in your kitchen? I recently read an article on the Healthy Eats blog about keeping healthy staples in the refrigerator. I really loved the idea of having cottage cheese, hummus, flour tortillas and almond butter on hand, but realistically these are rarely in my fridge. After reading this article, I thought of ways I could possibly improve my list of staples but first I wanted to explore those food staples that I depend upon week after week for my regular cooking and baking needs. And the best way for me to organize my thoughts is to make a list! Voila!

In my cupboards and elsewhere:

Lemons - I have really grown to depend on these lately. I can make my own salad dressing with lemon juice and olive oil. Having it nearby for a quick chicken piccata is essential. Lemon enhances our palate's ability to taste flavors (in a different way than salt does) so it really is a must have.

Onions - I always have a yellow onion on hand. Onions are such a core staple amongst so many savory dishes. And I get such a perverse joy out of chopping them. I love onion flavor so it's not rare to find leeks, chives and green onions in my fridge and onion powder and golden onion soup mix in my cupboards.

Salt - I know this seems like a given, but I always have a special salt imported from Aveiro, Portugal on hand. My father is originally from that town and I feel that using this particular salt keeps me connected with my heritage.

Vanilla - I have at least two bottles of Dominican vanilla available at all times. It's my signature ingredients for many a dessert and like the Portuguese salt, it connects me with my heritage as my mother is from the Dominican Republic.

White Wine - I love creating meals with white wine sauces so I stock up on little bottles of white wine. One small bottle is enough for a meal.

Canned Tuna - Packed in olive oil please, not water. Makes for a quick sandwich and it's great mixed into a pasta salad. It's often a protein in my meal and I will pair it with white rice, marinated baby beets and steamed greenbeans for one of my favorite go-to meals.

Canned Corned Beef Hash - Cook this in some olive oil with chopped onion, cubanelle pepper and red pepper. Then add some beaten egg and cheddar cheese and you have yourself an instant dinner.

In my refrigerator:
Cheddar Cheese - Shredded for macaroni & cheese, an omelet or scramble or for a salad. Thinly sliced on top of potato chips or by itself as a snack. The block lasts a decent amount time and I get a great deal for it at my main grocer.

Parmesan Cheese - A wedge of this is a must have. Shredded on top of pasta and various other foods, it's a great hint of salty flavor.

Eggs - I get Wilson Farms eggs because they come from their own farm-raised chickens. Since I bake a lot, these are a must. Plus, in a pinch an omelet or a scramble makes for a satisfying dinner. I also do a lot of breading (I make chicken and eggplant parm often), so eggs are definitely necessary for that. I think this is the most multi-purpose staple of them all!

Fresh Fruit - Peaches, Nectarines, Honey Dew Melon, Cherries and Strawberries are all my favorite fruits to indulge in. Come summertime, my fridge is packed with these goodies.

Chocolate chips - Great for baking, but I also snack on these when I need a quick chocolate fix.

Peppers - Cubanelle peppers and red peppers are always in my fridge. They add texture, flavor and color to any dish I add them to. Cubanelles are preferable to me than regular green peppers because they are milder in flavor.


In my freezer:
Chicken Breasts - Individually wrapped ones from Perdue. Chicken is so versatile and it's so incredibly easy to build a whole meal around it. I just have to remember to defrost them the night before!

Kashi Frozen Meals - They are an excellent choice for a quick and healthy lunch. I've never had one of these meals that I didn't enjoy.

Breakfast Items - Toaster Struedels, Aunt Jemima Frozen Breakfast Meals, Hashbrowns, Sausages, etc. Sometimes I get a craving for breakfast and having a few staples ready to go is handy. These are really indulgent so I only have them once in a great while.

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What are your staples?

5 comments:

rudyfan1926 said...

I believe in having a fully stocked kitchen and this is what I consider basics! Ymmv.

Pantry:
canned tomatoes, a variety of dried pasta/dried beans, sugar, flour (and the usual baking staples including a jar of yeast), loads of dried herbs (whole spices from Penzeys and a coffee grinder for use only with the spices), canned tuna (yes, Italian in olive oil), canned beans, vinegars (cider or white, red wine, balsamic and champagne), boxes of vegetable and chicken stock, corn muffin mix (Jiffy, it’s quick and when making Mexican corn bread, a must for it’s simplicity), Trader Joe’s bars of chocolate and canned pumpkin

Fridge: milk, fresh herbs (basil, flat leaf parsley, chives, scallions, cilantro, anything); eggs, sour cream, a variety of potatoes (fingerling, creamers, new red, yukons, whatever), parmesan and/or asiago cheeses, an herbed goat cheese, good bacon, always some form of salad greens, carrots and celery, at least 16 different mustards (and a whole variety of condiments, organic ketchup, sweet pickle relish, mayo, sriracha sauce, horseradish, jam, anchovy paste), greek olives (or any good olives), balsamic glaze, a batch of chimichurri sauce (great on meat, pasta, rice, a cracker when desperate and a spoonful in my 15 minute pozole), and Illy espresso in a can.

Freezer: prawns (cooked and uncooked), potstickers (Safeway-Select brand is yummy and semi-authentic), frozen peas, frozen corn and artichoke hearts, frozen berries and peaches, nuts (walnuts, sliced almonds, pecans), a variety of sausages (Italian, chorizo, linguicia, breakfast, chicken & apple), pancetta (Molinari), frozen ravioli (plain cheese to be dressed in sauce of my choice/making), ground chicken, chicken breasts (boneless) frozen cubes of crushed garlic and my own home-made soup base think holy trinity stuff, frozen spinach, jalapeno or Serrano chilis.

On the Counter:
Lemons, limes, cherry tomatoes, fresh tomatoes (in season), shallots, onion (red, yellow, white and sweet when in season), a knob of ginger and several heads of garlic, a good loaf of bread (NOT from the grocery, I’m blessed to be 4 blocks from two really fabulous French bakeries and have the hips to prove it).

Kate Gabrielle said...

garlic, zucchini, instant pizza crust (it works for so many things and is only $1 a bag), pasta, eggs, frozen broccoli, chick peas, kidney beans, olive oil, basil, oregano, canned whole plum tomatoes, tempeh, whole foods general tsao vegan chicken w/o the sauce, and honey.

Raquel said...

I am never without eggs, pasta, olive oil, garlic, butter, and at least one bag of frozen veggies and one package of frozen chicken breasts. Instant meal! Deliciousness abounds!

Sofya said...

You have a lovely blog!

There are many, many things in my kitchen and pantry (mostly in my freezes), for I have the advantage of living on a farm:

There's always:

Canned tomatoes (my own)
Half a beef (my own)
Chickens (my own)
Eggs (my own)
Cheddar cheese (Organic Valley of which we are members-producers)
Raw milk
Yogurt (my own)
Butter (Organic Valley)
Basic pantry stuff like salt, pepper, spices, many different kinds, vanilla, etc.
Bread (my own)
Flour (organic, relatively local)
Onions and garlic (my own)
Potatoes (my own)
Frozen corn (my own)
Jams and Jellies (raspberry, elderberry, strawberry - all my own).
Granola (store bought, conventional, in bulk)
Ketchup, mustard, mayo
Cases of red wine
Pasta (store-bought)
White and brown sugar
Lemon juice in a bottle (organic)
Apples, bananas, carrots (carrots and apples are my own in season but otherwise store-bought).
Frozen apple cider (my own).
A whole deer (my husband hunts).
Vinegars
Sour cream (local)
Frozen stock (my own).

Sofya said...

And of course yeast and high end fair-trade coffee and tea (store-bought).

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