Nov 2, 2009

Stock Your Pantry

by Ellen Wilson


How many times have you opened the refrigerator and declared that there is absolutely nothing to eat in the house? Probably far too often.  MIX! has created a list of items to keep on hand that provide the basics for most recipes.  However, before you head to the store, make sure to take into account your own tastes; stock up on the items that you eat regularly and not just our favorites.  For each item, be sure to date it before storing and then restock when you're running low.

Grains:
Grains are a part of almost every meal and keep for along time.  However, since they can go rancid, it's a good idea to store your grains in Mason jars or some other sort of tight container.  Good grains are various types of rice, pasta and beans. Try whole-wheat pasta and wild or brown rice for healthier, heartier options.  A great breakfast staple to keep on hand is oatmeal, which can also be used in baking.

Vegetables:

At the top of our list is onions, preferably yellow onions.  Onions add flavor to any dish and can be used in stir-fries, fajitas, on sandwiches and with pasta.  Add potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) to your list for an easy meal of baked potatoes. Just be sure to store them in a cool, dark place and use before they sprout.  Canned vegetables are easy additions to meals, so stock up on the vegetables you prefer, such as tomatoes, black beans, artichoke hearts and corn.

Fruits:
Fresh fruit is your best choice but always try to have some canned or dried fruit as well for when you can't make it to the store.  Get fruits canned in water or juice to lower the sugar additives.  We stock up on pineapple, pears, peaches, mandarin oranges and applesauce.

Oils and Sauces:
Olive oil. "Always have olive oil," could be our kitchen mantra.  Use it for cooking, baking, frying and drizzling over salad or pasta.  Other liquids frequently used in recipes are vegetable oil and vinegar (white or balsamic).  For added flavors, have other sauces like an Asian sauce, pasta sauce or a marinating sauce.

Baking Supplies:
If you're not much of a baker, don't overstock these items. However, if you have these on hand, you'll always be ready for baking: flour, sugar (white and brown), baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract.

Herbs and spices:
The must-haves, of course, are salt and pepper. We strongly suggest fresh ground pepper and either sea salt or kosher salt. Your typical table salt is great for baking, but for added flavor, try a coarser salt. Other basic herbs and spices that are good to have around are cinnamon, basil, rosemary, paprika, chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, and any others that you frequently use in your own cooking.
Add other quick and easy-to-use items like soup, peanut butter, and any item that you consume frequently.  Keep your pantry filled and you'll have no reason to say, "There's nothing to eat!"

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