Culinary Crash Course Series – Pantry, Refrigerator, and Freezer Essentials

*By: Linz Bordner*

Photo: Jason Leung

What foods we stock in our kitchen may be a matter of palate and repertoire and essentially, not at all created equal among households. As we know, life can get hectic and maybe you didn’t have time to make a grocery store run after work or didn’t meal plan for the week. Now, it’s 4pm and freezer burnt chicken nuggets are your only dinner option. Ohhh, the horror!

Here are some staple items that you may want to have on-hand in your kitchen, so that you’re equally prepared to put together a quick family meal or an impromptu dinner for friends. The idea is to have a balance of proteins and vegetables to pull together a satisfying meal, as well as fresh herbs and condiments to add additional flavor.

Pantry Items

Most pantries include the usual suspects: flour, sugar, oils, and spices. I typically keep items such as breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, peanut butter, various pastas, and crackers on hand as well. Here are some other pantry staples that may be of benefit to your food arsenal.

  • Extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil
  • Vinegars: apple cider, red wine, rice, or balsamic
  • Cooking wine: red or white
  • Sugars: honey, maple syrup, granulated & brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar
  • Different types of pastas or rice
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Oatmeal & cereals
  • Crackers & chips
  • Dried fruits such as cranberries
  • Applesauce
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Olives or capers
  • Chicken or beef broth
  • Canned veggies or beans
  • Dried herbs and spices

Refrigerator Items

Besides the obvious milk, eggs, and butter, here are some other staples you may want to keep on hand in your refrigerator.

  • Fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, basil
  • Fresh fruits: lemons, limes, apples, bananas, avocados, seasonal fruits
  • Fresh vegetables: onions, carrots, celery, bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes
  • Condiments: mustard, mayo, ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, pickles, jam
  • Yogurt: regular or Greek
  • Variety of cheeses: mild (such as mozzarella) and sharp (such as cheddars and parmesan)

Freezer Items

  • Ground Beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Vegetables: broccoli, corn, peas, spinach
  • Fruit: berries, peaches, or mangos
  • Pizza dough, pie crust, or puff pastry
  • Bread
  • Vanilla Ice cream

What essential food items do you keep in your kitchen?

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