To start stocking your kitchen staples, you need to have these basic staples first:
- Pink Himalayan salt and pepper
- Cooking oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Apple Cider
- Red Wine
- Whole grain
This is all you need to get you started to cooking a delicious and healthy meal. The other staples I am going to share with you will help you boost up any meal you cook.
This is definitely my ULTIMATE # 1- Seasonings are a MUST in the kitchen, it will take any of your dishes to the next level. I am talking about herbs (fresh and dried) and spices — just not your everyday salt and pepper. Seasonings will allow you to enhance the flavor of any dish without any added oil or butter. I always like to keep at least one type of fresh herb on hand during the week such as parsley, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, or mint to add a quick flavor boost to a meal. Herbs really help you limit the amount salt that you use.
I would like to say that I am in spice overload in my kitchen – but trust me this was no overnight thing. There was a lot of trial and error – (some spices I just don’t like). The BEST way to build up the spices in your pantry is to buy little by little – this will allow you to become familiar with the spices, instead having a shelf full of spices that go bad. YES, spices do have an expiration date.
I recommend you should start off with choosing 5 spices that you would like to cook with, which is just enough for you to mix and match during cooking. Try incorporating these 5 spices into your dishes – using different combinations of spices depending on what meal you are cooking. You DEF don’t have to use them all at once, but you should become familiar with the spices. I like to call mine the BASE 5 – basically these are my go to spices that I use and rotate when I’m cooking- Himalayan pink salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, and garlic powder.
Buy spices in bulk when trying to find your BASE 5, this allows you to try out different spices without buying the entire bottle AND it’s cheaper. You can’t beat that! What spices do you already like? What spices would you like to try? Ask yourself those questions to get started in finding your BASE 5.
I love LEGUMES – black beans, pinto beans, split peas, red lentils, green lentils, the list can really keep going. They are a good source of protein, fiber and iron for you. If you add legumes to any dish will bulk up any dish they are added to, especially when you are looking to stretch and meal.
Legumes can be bought fresh, dried or in a can. I prefer the fresh and dried options over the can; when buying canned legumes look no salt or low sodium and BPA free. Canned legumes have a very high sodium content than fresh or dried. You are not in control of the sodium when you buy cans, and when it comes to sodium you should be in the drivers seat.
Legumes can be added to soups, salads, stews, or even made into burgers. Yes, burgers.
Keeping liquids in your pantry such as broth, stock, coconut milk, tomato juice, or your favorite drinking wine (cooking wine is two thumbs down!) helps bring flavor to any of your dishes. Any recipe that calls for you to cook in water can be replaced with any of the cooking liquids I stated in the beginning. Having these liquids on hand helps you create quick dishes such as soups, stews, and chili. You can use your favorite drinking wine to cook up some pasta or even rice. I love to keep coconut milk as one of my pantry staples because I love to cook curry dishes. You will get that “I slaved over the stove” flavor but in half the time. Cooking liquids are a time saver and a flavor enhancer.
Quick tip- You can take your cooking liquids and freeze them in ice cube trays, so you can just pop them in a dish at any time for the boost of flavor.
Grains are great to have because they can bulk up any dish just like legumes. Here are some of my favorites that I like to keep in my pantry:
- Pasta (I like have whole wheat or quiona)
- Quiona (which is actually a seed… a story for a different time)
I love having grains on hand to add some bulk to a meal,a quick breakfast, or even a sweet treat. Grains are another great buy in bulk, especially are you testing out new grains. You will be able to get just enough to try out without breaking the bank.
SEEDS AND NUTS
Seeds and nuts are great addition to your kitchen pantry staples- the possibilities are endless with their uses. Personally, I keep hemp, chia, flax, and sesame seeds on hand along with any type of nuts. You can make your own nut and seed butters without all of the added sugar. Also you can grind up the nuts to make excellent breading for fish or veggies. Chia and flax seeds are a good egg replacement when you are baking. You can get added flavor roasting the seeds and nuts to release the oils and flavor.
Of course these are another great buy when buying in bulk.