I didn’t have much experience cooking when I got married. We were straight out of college, so I can’t blame myself too much. Actually, the plan was for Jonathan to be the main one who cooked for us. You can probably guess what came of that–lots of fast food and me gaining 10 pounds our first year of marriage.
I’ve done better since then, and a large part of that has to do with keeping a stocked pantry. One thing that I eventually learned was that it was easier to keep certain things always on hand than to have to run to the store every single time I needed flour, chicken broth, oregano or onions. This is now one of the biggest pieces of advice that I give to newlyweds/recent graduates/those just starting to cook: If you always keep the basics on hand, it’s not that hard to throw something together when you have limited time/energy to prepare dinner.
So what do you keep on hand in your pantry? For me, it’s generally the following:
- Baking supplies (flour, sugar, baking soda/powder, cornmeal, brown sugar, etc.)
- A variety of spices
- Peanut butter
- Canned beans (black, kidney, and Great Northern)
- Green chilies
- Diced tomatoes, Rotel tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste
- Cream of chicken/mushroom/celery soup
- Pasta and pasta sauce
- Chicken and beef broth/bouillon cubes
You can tell what kind of a cook someone is by what they keep in their pantry. I like to make lots of different kinds of chili/tortilla soup/taco soup, thus the diced tomatoes. I typically cook in the crockpot about once a week, which tends to use creamed soups. You can tell that I’m not totally hung up on using fresh ingredients–though I do try to–because sometimes you just have to do what is easiest.
I’m interested to hear: What do you keep stocked in your pantry?