What Are Seven Staples in the Kitchen You Should Always Have On Hand?

I remember babysitting for a family who told me I could help myself to food in the kitchen, but when I was looking for food, all I could think was "Where is all your food?" They had a few small shelves with food, but it seemed such a small amount, what did they even eat on a daily basis, and didn't they run out of things so quickly? I don't really understand people who don't have a well stocked pantry, because when your fresh food runs out in the fridge, you need to be able to still feed your family before you make it to the grocery store, or at least that's how I see it. My friend Nancy sent in a list of some staples you should always have in your pantry, nearly all shelf stable, so that you can always have food for your family.

When you started to design your kitchen using gray cabinets online, you knew it was going to be the central gathering place of the home. Great memories and meals are made there. 

When you make a nutritious meal, you should have a well-stocked kitchen. Many of the healthy foods available are highly perishable and must be consumed within a few days. Still, you can have several long-lasting and healthy staples in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to make nutritious meals and snacks. It is convenient to keep a supply of essential ingredients to help you prepare a healthy meal at any time. The following seven staples should always be in your kitchen to make this happen.

1. Onions and Garlic

An onion is the foundation of a delicious meal, and they last for weeks when stored in a cool and dark pantry. The most versatile onions are yellow or Spanish onions, but you can also have shallots and red onions. Garlic also adds flavor to any meal. Buy the whole heads as they are cheaper, fresher, and last longer. For optimum shelf-life, store your garlic in a dark corner in the pantry. The good thing is that you can still use garlic even when it starts sprouting; all you have to do is trim away the green shoots. Keep your onions and garlic in a dark pantry if you can. They will last much longer. 

2. Canned and Dried Lentils and Beans

Lentils and beans are healthy foods to have in your kitchen, and they have a long shelf life. Canned beans stored at the correct temperatures can last for two to five years, while dried beans can still be edible even after ten years. Dried beans last longer because they don’t have moisture which is necessary for microbial growth. On top of their long shelf life, lentils and beans are highly nutritious. This provides various nutrients, including iron, B vitamins, magnesium, and fiber.

3. Oil

Oil is an essential ingredient in roasting and sautéing, making dressings, sauces, spreads, and dips. Depending on your favorite meals, you may also need to have coconut oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, or olive oil. Do not buy too much oil as it has a short shelf life.

4. Frozen Meat, Poultry, and Fish

Although fresh poultry, meat, and fish are highly perishable, their frozen versions can last much longer when stored at the right temperature. For example, frozen chicken can last up to one year at 00F or -170C, while fish can last for up to five months in the freezer. When you have a good supply of frozen fish, meat, and chicken, you can make healthy protein-rich dishes when you are short of fresh animal protein.

5. Pickled Vegetables/Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

Pickled vegetables and condiments can transform your meal from average to extraordinary. Stock up on sour cream, coconut cream, and mayo for topping soup and tacos. Giardiniera is excellent for adding flavor, crunch, acid, and heat to appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Many fresh veggies and fruits are highly perishable, but buying the foods while frozen enables you to prepare nutrient-rich meals at any time. Frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrient content as fresh produce, making them suitable for healthy meals. You can add frozen greens to smoothies, soups, and sautés. Frozen berries add natural sweetness to yogurt parfaits, baked goods, smoothies, and oatmeal.

6. Eggs

Eggs are versatile and can be eaten at any time. They are full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals essential for the body to thrive. Eggs can be classified among perishable foods but can last for five weeks in the fridge. If it’s possible, buy pasture-raised eggs as they are more nutritious. The hens that lay these eggs are treated better than caged hens, and they scavenge for food from nature as they are allowed to roam outdoors.

7. Grains

When you don’t know what to cook, grain-based meals like pilaffs, soups, grain bowls, and salads are a great option due to their convenience and versatility. Grains, such as quinoa, oats, bulgur, amaranth, and brown rice can last for months at room temperature; you can buy them in bulk. Grains are an excellent source of micronutrients such as magnesium, manganese, fiber, and B vitamins. Eat grains daily to protect yourself from heart disease and some cancers.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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