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Essential Cooking Staples to Have in the Kitchen

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If you've just moved into your new home, you will most likely have to purchase a lot of everyday essentials that slip your mind during the moving process. You're so used to having your microwave or salt/pepper shakers handy, you may forget about all the things you'll have to get for your kitchen in your new place.

Whether you cook daily or just once in awhile, take a look at the following list of must-have pantry and cupboard items for your new home:

Dry pantry items

  • Spice rack: if you want your food to be full of flavor, you should probably invest in an already assembled spice rack (you could create your own by buying each spice one by one, but odds are you will use a majority of the spices in a rack that is already assembled).
    Some popular spices:
    • Cinnamon

    • Cumin

    • Garlic or onion powder

    • Basil

    • Oregano

  • Salt/pepper: your salt and pepper shakers may not come with your spice rack, and these are arguably that most-used duo in your kitchen, so don't forget them! If you're into freshly ground seasonings, opt for a pepper mill or rock salt in a grinder.

  • Cooking oils: in most kitchens, you will find at least one oil used for cooking, whether it's vegetable, olive, sesame or coconut. Depending on your favorite, grab two.

  • Canned goods: stocking up on non-perishables is good in case of emergency, but these items also add variety to your stock and allow you to come up with numerous daily meals--just don't forget a can opener!
    Some canned essentials are:
    • Beans: black, pinto, green, garbanzo, lentils, etc. - they can all play a versatile role in your kitchen creations. You can also opt for the dried beans in bags.

    • Yams

    • Soups: besides your everyday favorites you may take to work for lunch, you can pick up a few creamed soups, like cream of mushroom, which can be used in baked dishes like meatloaf. Chicken or vegetable stocks are also a must-have for cooking.

    • Tomato paste

    • Crushed tomatoes

    • Marinara/pasta sauce

    • Tuna (or other canned fish or protein)

  • Coffee: the variety of coffee you get will vary depending on your tastes and your machine (French press, single-cup brews, 12-cup, etc.), but if you need your caffeine fix in morning, you will not want to forget this item on your grocery haul.

  • Baking soda: this staple item doubles as a cooking/baking item and a cleaning product. Sure, you use baking soda in many cookie recipes, but you can also put a box in your fridge to absorb foul odors, brush your teeth with it and remove stains.

  • Honey: not just for tea drinkers - honey is a natural sweetener and can be used in making glazes, dressings and marinades.

  • Vinegar: another multipurpose staple, vinegar can be used for dressings, marinades, homemade cleaning products, and more.

  • Cooking spray: you may not wish to use full-fat oils every time you go to fry an egg, so choose a zero-calorie vegetable (or coconut) version to keep your food from sticking.

  • Potatoes: at cool, dry temperatures, these can stay in your pantry for weeks (and months in the refrigerator). Just be careful about keeping them in the dark - they'll grow roots. And don't forget a potato peeler!

  • Pasta: maybe not the best choice for a low-carb or gluten free diet, but if your dietary needs allow it, pasta is inexpensive and can keep for very long periods of time in your pantry, so stock up on as many different kinds as you can!

  • Rice: another easy-to-make and long-lasting staple, you can buy large bags of rice in bulk and scoop out portions as needed.

  • Jelly/Jam: you will need to refrigerate jelly once you've opened the jar, but if you're a big peanut butter and jelly fan, stocking up on a few jars for your pantry is a good idea.

  • Peanut butter: you can use peanut butter for more than just sandwiches - use it for smoothies, baking, sauces, marinades, etc.

  • Cornstarch: use this staple for baking and as a thickening agent for stews and gravies.

  • Flour: you'll need all purpose flour not just for baking, but for coating any meat, fish or veggies you plan on pan frying (you can also use the flour to thicken soups, gravies and sauces).

  • Bread crumbs: you'll be pretty upset if you plan out an entire chicken parmesan meal and realize you didn't pick up bread crumbs - whether you enjoy Japanese panko style or Italian herbs, you definitely want bread crumbs in your kitchen to liven things up.

  • Vanilla extract: if you're not a baker, you might be able to skip this item; however, if you plan on entertaining guests with your newfound confectioner skills, a large majority of sweet treats call for vanilla extract.

  • Sugar: whether you add a spoonful to your coffee, sprinkle it on your breakfast waffles or seldom use it at all - sugar should still be stored in a well-stocked kitchen for any culinary feats that may arise. If you bake often, confectioners and brown sugar are staples as well.

  • Nuts: as long as you don't have allergy restrictions, dried, unsalted nuts can last months in the pantry and are good for snacking, baking and for adding extra flair to your meals (Thai peanut sauce, anyone?).

Refrigerator items

Now that you've stock piled your dry items, don't forget about a few favorites that go together with many of your non-perishables to create delicious meals.
  • Basic condiments:
    You can use a lot of these condiments individually on sandwiches, burgers, and salads, but you can also create brand new marinades, sauces and dips using these items:
    • Ketchup

    • Mustard

    • Relish

    • Mayonnaise

    • Salad dressing

    • Soy sauce/marinades

  • Garlic: fresh cloves or minced in jar, this adds more intense flavor than your garlic powder.

  • Onions

  • Milk (coconut or almond milk if you follow a vegan diet)

  • Eggs

  • Bread: sure, bread can be stored on countertops as long as the bag is sealed; however, putting your loaf of bread in the fridge extends its use (especially if you purchase any organic or sprouted grain bread).

  • Butter: even if you use this item sparingly, you'll probably come across a time where it will come in handy to grease a pan, at the very least.

  • Cheese: again, maybe not so much for those with vegan diets, but if you don't shy away from dairy, shredded parmesan cheese and a couple sliced varieties are good to have on hand.

  • Lemons/limes: flavor your food, add them to your tea, or use them as a cleaning agent - they give off a great smell, too!

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on April 15, 2014

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