(As an aside, I don’t know what I’m laughing about so hard in this picture, but it must have been good!)
What’s the most frustrating thing about making dinner? Never knowing what you should make! Luckily, with a well-stocked pantry, you won’t ever have to go through this dreaded experience again. You can have all you need at your fingertips to make a quick meal or a gourmet plate.
Personally, I love a sense of order: It makes my whole experience of cooking much more enjoyable. If I take the time at the upfront getting things organized (like my pantry), then I know where everything is and my recipe goes smoothly.
Also, opt for a pantry that has moving shelves that can be pulled out of the pantry itself. It helps you take inventory of everything you have and, more importantly, everything you may need to replace or get rid of.
I like to buy two of everything. Imagine your dismay at being in the middle of a recipe only to realize you’re out of a key ingredient. #Disaster.
My pantry is chock-full of fundamental spices and products, along with plenty of non-perishables I can bring into any one of my favourite recipes.
Here’s what I stock:
I use onions in everything – from my tomato sauce to stir-fry, steaks and soups.
I pluck my rosemary plant come September so I can let it dry out and then use it throughout the entire fall/winter season. I’m also stocking kosher salt, peppercorns, cracked pepper, thyme, oregano, red chili flakes: basically any, and every, herb imaginable. This goes without saying, but herbs are essential in making a delicious meal.
OK, call me crazy but I have a deep-deep love of all-things vinegar. From champagne to Balsamic; red wine to apple cider, vinegar has so many treatments: in a salad dressing, marinade or sauce.
I have an entire shelf committed to pasta. Whichever variety you like, stock up: Pasta takes mere minutes to whip up, and I’ve never met a person who didn’t love a delicious plate of it!
Lentils, wild rice, quinoa, farrow, couscous
These last forever and work as a wonderful base for any dish, plus they’re very healthy, too. Just add a protein and some hot sauce. Yum.
Chutneys, hot sauces, curry paste
Again, this is to personal taste, but I have a plentiful shelf full of beautiful chutneys, favourite hot sauces and curry pastes. These will take an otherwise basic meal into something extraordinary.