Pantry Basics – What Staples Do You Really Need to Create Delicious Meals?

Pantry Basics - What Staples Do You Really Need to Create Delicious Meals?

A staples pantry is simply a section of your food storage area where you keep a supply of often used foods, herbs and spices that you use to season or create dishes for the family meals. Here is where you keep those dry goods such as flour and sugar, and things like seasoning packets that help you make your meals more interesting.

TIP: Watch those expiration dates! Most spices begin to lose their potency after about 6 months. Store dry goods like flour in a sealed plastic or glass container. A Bay leaf or two in your flour container helps ward off those pesky little bugs. Ditto for pancake mixes, baking mixes and other similar products. HONEY lasts almost indefinitely and is a great antiseptic. But, more on that later.

There are many options for a staples pantry that depend on your own personal food tastes.

For example, if you like a lot of Oriental foods, you will probably want to keep some specifics such as:

  • Sesame Seed
  • Poppy Seeds
  • Soy Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Corn Starch
  • 5 Spice
  • Ginger and others.

Check out the ethnic foods section of your grocery or visit a specialty foods store in your area to see what is available.

Latin or Hispanic Cuisine may include such options as:

  • Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Curry
  • Chili Powder
  • A good bottled salsa
  • Hot peppers and pepper sauces

Again I suggest you base your staples pantry on your specific tastes. Your local market or grocery should have some good offerings to choose from.

Good Old American Cooking has its own set of spices like:

  • Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
  • Onion Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Worcester Sauce

You should also keep on hand a ready supply of other items such as:

  • Tomato sauce and paste
  • Canned soups like cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and cream of broccoli
  • Packaged dry mixes that are quite handy to have on hand include:
  • dry onion soup mix
  • chili seasoning packets
  • spaghetti seasoning packets
  • ranch and Italian style dressing mixes
  • bread crumbs

And of course we all have:

  • Mayonnaise (not salad dressing style)
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil like canola
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard – both old-fashioned yellow and a spicy brown
  • Assorted bottled salad dressings
  • Pickles – sweet, dill and any others you like
  • Relish – sweet and dill
  • Olives
  • Canned fish products like oysters, clams, sardines, salmon, and tuna
  • Canned meats like, ham, chicken, beef, and perhaps Spam (yes it is meat)
  • Chicken and beef stock – check the sodium content on the canned and boxed varieties for the lowest amounts.
  • French fried onions
  • Flour
  • Sugar and / or sugar substitutes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Assorted pastas
  • Assorted rice
  • Canned potatoes
  • Canned mixed vegetables

While this is only a very small list, it will give you the things you need to create some last-minute dishes when your family is storming the kitchen for dinner.

Use fresh meat and vegetables with different spices or sauces you can create with some of these ingredients.

A few days ago I was faced with creating a meal for the family and some unexpected guests. With a good assortment of ingredients on hand and a well stocked freezer I was able to create a delicious casserole that was ready in under 30 minutes. Served with a salad and some good bread it was a hit.

I simply sliced potatoes, skin on, into a pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Added some onion and garlic powder and began browning. While the potatoes were going I seared some small steaks I had quick thawed in the microwave. Sliced into strips I added them to the potatoes. I then stirred in a packet of onion soup mix, mixing well and continued to cook a few minutes until the meat was almost done. I poured in 2 cups of chicken stock mixed with a tablespoon of cornstarch and stirred until the mixture came to a boil. Then lowered the heat to simmer until the potatoes were cooked, about 5 minutes more. Total time was about 20 minutes.

With a simple salad of greens, tomato, and onions and some crusty french bread the meal was complete and my family and their friends were raving about the ‘GREAT Casserole” recipe. If they only knew, but I won’t tell.

The Author:

I am ‘Cutting my own way…sharing the life I have grown since 2001.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *