32 pantry essentials to help you cook more at home title

32 Pantry Essentials to Help you Cook more at Home

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We’ve all been there. You come home after a long day and the last thing you want to do it cook. So, you begin thumbing through the same-old takeout menus for dinner.

What if that could be different? Instead, you start a pot of water boiling on the stove. You mosy over to the pantry for some essentials: onion, garlic, canned tomato, and whole grain pasta. While the water comes to a boil, you sauté chopped onion and minced garlic, then pour in canned tomatoes. You add whole grain pasta to the pot of boiling water. Voila! You have a homemade dinner filled with veggies and whole grains that you cooked from pantry essentials in 25 minutes (about the same amount of time it would have taken to order and pick up dinner).

Cooking at home can be:
1. Healthier (you have control over your ingredients)
2. Less expensive (many meals you can do in less than $4 a serving)
3. Faster (yes, faster!) than takeout

Don’t we all want to cook more at home? Cooking at home is so much easier (and do-able!) if you have some of these basic ingredients in your kitchen. Even if you are behind on grocery shopping, having a well-stocked pantry can save the day. Here are 32 pantry essentials I keep on hand for those nights when I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store.

Pantry essentials examples
(here are some ideas from my kitchen…I think some of these items are pretty to keep out of the pantry)

32 Pantry Essentials to Cook more at Home

Spices and Herbs (if you don’t have fresh herbs)
1. oregano
2. cinnamon
3. rosemary
4. thyme
5. cumin

Legumes – I choose low-sodium canned or dried
6. lentils
7. black beans
8. garbanzo beans
9. pinto beans

Oil and Vinegar
10. olive oil
11. canola oil
12. sesame oil
13. balsamic vinegar
14. apple cider vinegar

15. mustard
16. reduced-sodium soy sauce

17. whole wheat flour
18. brown rice
19. quinoa
20. popcorn kernels
21. oatmeal
22. whole grain pasta

Nuts and Seeds
23. walnuts
24. almonds
25. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
26. flax seeds

Fruits and Vegetables
27. raisins
28. pineapple (canned, in own juice)
29. tomato (canned, low sodium)
30. onion
31. garlic
32. ginger

BONUS! I also keep a number of fruits and veggies (and mixes) ready to go in my freezer. This way, I am getting a good serving of fruits and veggies available to me at all times. Here’s what I like to keep

Greens. I add frozen spinach or kale as a side for any meal. And, I also incorporate into sauces and soups.
Bell peppers. These get added to eggs, rice and beans, or chili.
Asian veggies. There are many mixes out there. I personally love the mixes that have broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrots, and red bell peppers. Stir frying with fresh onion, garlic, and ginger is delicious with brown rice.
Frozen strawberries. These tart and sweet fruits blend well into a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and orange juice. They are also a great topping to french toast or pancakes.
Mixed berries. I love frozen mixed berries in my oatmeal, in a smoothie, or warmed as a dessert.

What pantry essentials do you keep stocked in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Brittney

    I never think of freezing peppers. Do you ever freeze diced onions and peppers? Or are they too strong?

    • I totally do! They hold up well to freezing and it makes it easy to pop frozen peppers into a chili or soup.