On the coat tails of my recent Spring-cleaning, I discovered another area that needed attention: my kitchen pantry. My pantry is the place I store baking ingredients, condiments, rubs and spices. As I threw away, sorted and organized foods, I found myself making a mental note that there are a few pantry staples (in addition to the basics of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper) that I believe should be found in every kitchen pantry.
Dried Red Pepper Flakes
If you like hot (flavor that is!), then I recommend always keeping this spice on hand. Dried red pepper flakes are one of the best ways to perk up a dull dish. I use chili flakes in almost every meal (I’m not exaggerating)—spaghetti, tomato sauce, chicken parmesan, stuffed bell peppers, lettuce wraps (to name a few). Simply put, they are dried red chili peppers crushed into flakes, and they certainly pack a punch—beware the first time you use them. This flavor is a great way to spice up any Meatloaf-Monday, Taco-Tuesday, or Pizza-Friday!
Lawry’s Garlic Salt
This is a relatively new addition for me. While sharing about my kitchen pantry staples, my dear friend Lauren proclaimed that Lawry’s Garlic Salt is a must. Lauren is an excellent cook, so I immediately took her advice. I have been adding this spice to my meals and man oh man, have I tasted the difference. This spice adds great flavors of garlic, salt and parsley to pastas, meats and poultry. Thanks to Lauren, Lawry’s Garlic Salt is a new staple in my pantry.
San Marzano Tomatoes
Whether you’re preparing a weeknight tomato or meat ragu sauce, there is no better option than San Marzano. These tomatoes have an authentic Italian flavor that you’ll definitely be able to taste. Toss some pasta with your sauce for an easy weeknight dish. Have varying shapes of pasta in your pantry? Try a mix-and-play pasta night for a fun twist. Just be sure to check out cooking times before pouring each dry pasta in your boiling water.
Boxed Chicken Broth
Homemade chicken is obviously the best—there is something so delicious about the taste that screams comfort! However, in the case that you don’t have hours to prepare, I have found that boxed Trader Joe’s fat-free, low sodium chicken broth most often does the trick! It has a savory base that can easily be transformed into dinner. Chicken broth can be an easy base for soup (Noodle Soup, Mexican Soup, Rice and Lemon Soup), can be used as a substitute for water when cooking quinoa for an added favor boost, or can be a replacement for wine if you don’t have an already open bottle.
Dark Chocolate Chips
We all have nights where a sweet treat is required—and I believe that dark chocolate chips are always the answer. Whether your sweet tooth is satisfied by a handful of chips or you’re whipping up a quick batch of cookies, dark chocolate chips are a must for the pantry. Wanting a guilt-free treat? Try this two-ingredient cookie recipe by Recipe by Photo (click here for the recipe) and add a handful of chocolate chips. This is a go-to for a “healthy” treat.
I am a proponent on stocking up my pantry for key ingredients and staple items. This keeps me prepared to whip up a tasty (and seasoned) dish without having to run to the store. Do you have any other kitchen pantry staples that I should add to my list? If so, please share them with us?