Stocking your kitchen is a constant puzzle because you have to keep track of what is in your fridge and pantry and what you will need in the coming week for your meals. Everybody should stock some standby items, like the ingredients for your favorite weeknight chicken recipes or milk and cereal for breakfast. Consider adding these four ingredients to the list of essentials you always have in your kitchen.
Pasta: Pasta is the foundation for hundreds of different meals, making it an incredibly versatile ingredient. You can add just about anything to a box of cooked pasta to turn out a delicious dish. If you have pasta, it’s easy to find pasta recipes that will include other ingredients you have around. In a pinch, you can even just eat pasta plain with a little bit of salted butter as a sauce.
Beans: When you want to add protein to vegetarian recipes, beans are one of the easiest solutions. Canned beans are simple to use, have a long shelf life, and come in dozens of varieties, including reduced-sodium or no-added-salt varieties. If you have a little time to prepare them, dried beans are very inexpensive and are simple to soak all day and cook in soups or stews, or to add to other dishes.
Canned tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes don’t last long, but canned tomatoes are an incredibly versatile ingredient with a long shelf life. They come in many forms, including sauce, paste, diced, salsa, whole, or crushed and, similar to beans, come in reduced-sodium verities. Have several types of canned tomatoes on hand so you can pop open a can whenever you try new recipes that call for them or preparing twists to old favorites, like grilled cheese.
Eggs: One of the most difficult ingredients to substitute in recipes is eggs, so you should always have them on hand. Eggs work as binders to hold together meatballs and potato pancakes, they are essential in most baking recipes, and they are crucial when making baked macaroni and cheese. Plus, eggs make a protein-rich lunch, like in egg salad, or in a brunch frittata. Plus, who doesn’t love a classic and delicious appetizer, like deviled eggs?
There are some ingredients that you should only buy when you know you are going to be using them because they don’t store well. Other types of ingredients are easy to substitute, like vegetable side dishes. These essential ingredients, though, are things you should always have on hand because you will find yourself reaching for them often when you cook.