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Stocking the Pantry

When it comes to stocking the pantry, it can hard to know what food items to always have on hand. Please, allow me to be of assistance.  This post is a comprehensive pantry list, regardless of your skill level.

When it comes to frozen or canned, I prefer frozen fruits and vegetables.  Most canned products are slightly cooked.   If your tastes run different from mine, feel free to add your favorite canned meat, veggies, and fruit. 

It is frustrating to run out of things, especially when I am in the middle of cooking! (Hint: Use these tips to help the cooking process go smoothly.)  Having a well-stocked pantry can save the day when having to create a quick meal.

Click on the links throughout the tiers to find out more about specific products. 

Stay tuned until the end of the post to get a downloadable PDF of this pantry stocking guide. 

Remember These Factors

As you go through this post, keep in mind the following: your eating style (low-carb, gluten-free, vegan, and so on), number of eaters in the household, consider how often someone cooks in the home, personal taste, and ethnic foods.

Eating Style

This factor is a reminder to stock your pantry according to the type of diet(s) eaten in the household.  A vegan living solo will not require evaporated milk or chicken stock.  Someone on Keto does not need wheat flour or sugar.  Gluten-free eaters will need to find appropriate substitutes for certain baking staples

Number of Eaters

Juggling different schedules can make meal planning and mealtimes challenging.   If you know a member of your household tends to eat out all week, that can alter how much you want to keep on hand. 

Amount of Cooking

If you have a lot of mouths to feed, cook in bulk & freeze meals or cooking solo, it is important to evaluate the quantities you’ll need to keep on hand, then shop accordingly. During certain times of the year, a five-pound bag of flour can cost as much as a one-pound bag. Long-lasting ingredients such as flour tend to last quite a while if they are stored correctly. Just keep in mind the likelihood of using the product before it expires.

Personal Taste

Remember, this list is a guide.  Feel free to make changes to add and remove things according to your taste buds. 

Ethnic Foods

Different cultures use various herbs, spices, and other ingredients in their cooking that the average Americans may not know.  Be sure to keep those flavors in mind when creating your perfect pantry.

Which Tier Are You?

Stocking the pantry at your level will help perfect your cooking skills. Now that we have the “guidelines” down, let’s talk about how the list is structured. There are four sections: casual or new cook, confident and expanding, well-seasoned culinary adventurer, finishing with vegan additions & substitutions. 

Tier 1

Casual or New Cook.

This grouping will list the items needed for a well-stocked pantry.  Upon following this list, you should be able to whip up simple recipes for soups, quick breads (muffins, pancakes, etc.), sauces (marinara or gravy), and more.

Tier 2

Confident Cook Expanding Food Horizons.

I’m expanding upon Tier 1 to include commonly found staples to make more in-depth and complex meals and from-scratch-cooking.  This beefed up tier begins laying the foundation for recreating ethnic cuisines by adding “basic” flavors and ingredients for cuisines such as Thai, Mexican, or Indian.

Tier 3

Well-seasoned Culinary Adventurer

For the person cooks almost every day and mostly creates their own recipes, Tier 3 brings out some flavor heavy hitters.  At this point, they are no stranger to world-wide cuisine with a flare for authenticity.  Most items in this section are also commonly found in large grocery stores or easily ordered online, depending on where you live.

Tier 4

Vegan Additions & Substitutions 

The majority of this list is already vegan, but there are a few additions and substitutions listed in Tier 4. In this final section, we explore the substitutes for items are denoted with “see Tier 4”.   

Remember,  you are free to alter the list according to your tastes and scale the tiers as you see fit. This post is just a guide, add your flare!

Let’s get starting on stocking the pantry! 

Tier 1: Casual or New Cook

First up on the Stocking the Pantry list is Tier 1. In this list, I provide almost all your needs to make it through mealtimes and even holidays. From herbs and seasonings to the foundation of many different types of dishes, this pantry list is exceptionally well rounded.  Paired with fresh ingredients, you can easily create meals more often, and even to branch out into new territory. 

Baking

  • All-Purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Chocolate bar (milk, bittersweet, white and/or unsweetened)
  • Chocolate chips, semi-sweet
  • Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  • Cornstarch
  • Evaporated and/or condensed milk (see Tier 4)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Honey (see Tier 4)
  • Light and dark brown sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Canned, Boxed, and “Other”

Pasta

Oils and Vinegars

  • Apple Cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray (baking, olive oil, canola/vegetable and/or grill)
  • Vegetable or canola oil

Condiments

  • Dijon mustard
  • Fruit jam or spread (strawberry, orange marmalade and/or apricot)
  • Hot sauce
  • Jarred salsa
  • Ketchup
  • Mayo
  • Peanut butter (smooth and chunky)
  • Pickles
  • Relish (sweet and/or dill)
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce (see Tier 4)
  • Yellow mustard

Herbs, Flavoring, and Spices

  • Black peppercorns
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cream of tartar
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Dried basil
  • Dried bay leaf
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried sage
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder or granulated
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Onion powder or granulated
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Sweet paprika
  • Table salt
  • Vanilla extract

Grains and Legumes

  • Canned beans (black, pinto, red kidney, garbanzo, cannellini, and/or great northern. Unsalted varieties are the best.)
  • Cornmeal
  • Long-grain rice
  • Old fashion rolled oats

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds (sliced, whole and/or silvered)
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Shelled sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Tier 2: Confident Cook Expanding Food Horizons

Tier two covers items for those who cook pretty often and a nice set of cooking skills. With these additional items, you can branch out into ethnic cuisine (Thai, Indian, Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean, and so many more)! Also, you can create a twist on a classic recipe, such as Southwest Meatloaf or White Chicken Chili.

Baking

  • Almond extract
  • Cake flour
  • Molasses
  • Powdered buttermilk (see Tier 4)
  • Unflavored gelatin (see Tier 4)
  • Vanilla beans
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Yeast (active or instant)

Canned, Boxed, and “Other”

  • Beef stock
  • Coconut milk
  • Diced green chile
  • Dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, raisins, etc.…)
  • Jarred pesto
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Roasted red bell peppers
  • Sardines
  • Steel-cut oats
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Whole tomatoes, canned

Pasta

  • Rice noodles

Oils and Vinegars

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil or light olive oil
  • Peanut oil (for deep frying)
  • Sesame seed oil

Condiments

Herbs, Flavorings, and Spices

  • Caraway seed
  • Cardamom
  • Celery seed
  • Chile powders (single chile variety, such as ancho or chipotle)
  • Dried chives
  • Dried fennel
  • Dried Mediterranean oregano
  • Dried parsley
  • Dried tarragon
  • Dry mustard
  • Five-spice powder
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Garam masala
  • Ground coriander
  • Ground ginger
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sesame seed (toasted or untoasted)
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sumac
  • Turmeric
  • White pepper
  • Whole allspice
  • Whole cloves
  • Za’atar

Grains and Legumes

  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Couscous
  • Dried beans (black, pinto, garbanzo, red kidney, navy and/or cannellini)
  • Jasmine or basmati rice
  • Lentils (green, brown, red, yellow or French)
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Refried Beans (black or pinto)
  • Split peas
  • Wild rice

Nuts and Seeds

  • Cashews
  • Pecans

Tier 3: Well-seasoned & Venturing Cook

As a cook, you are at a point where it is all about flavors, especially new ones.  Having this arsenal at your disposal, you are ready to tackle recipe ideas whenever the mood hits.

Baking

Canned, Boxed and “Other”

Pasta

  • Buckwheat noodles
  • Rigatoni, cavatappi, ziti and/or orzo

Oils and Vinegars

  • Avocado oil or grapeseed oil
  • Flavored or herb vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • Mirin
  • Toasted sesame seed oil
  • Truffle oil
  • Walnut oil or almond oil

Condiments

Herbs, Flavorings, and Spices

  • Allspice berries
  • Black sesame seed
  • Cocoa nibs
  • Coriander seeds
  • Crystalized ginger
  • Cumin seeds
  • Dill weed
  • Ethnic spice mixes (such as dukkah/duqqa – Middle East, shichimi togarashi– Japanese)
  • Fenugreek
  • Furikake
  • Gochugaru
  • Hot paprika
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Marjoram
  • Rosewater
  • Saffron
  • Savory
  • Wasabi powder
  • White pepper seeds
  • Whole dried chiles
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Whole star anise
  • Whole vanilla beans

Grains and Legumes

Nuts and Seeds

  • Chia seed
  • Flaxseed
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pumpkin seeds

Tier 4: Vegan Substitutes and Additions

Most of the stocking pantry list is vegan.  For items that are not vegan, there are some excellent substitutes for the above-referenced items (“See Tier 4). I also added some items I feel a vegan kitchen would use more often than others.

Vegan Substitutes

Tier 1

  • Coconut aminos. Used to replace soy sauce if necessary.
  • Coconut sugar. If you can’t find organic brown sugar, this is similar but not as sweet.
  • Evaporated and/or condensed coconut milk – Tier 1.
  • Organic sugar – Tier 1. Bone char is not on the approved list to qualify for organic; therefore, all organic sugar is vegan.

Tier 2

  • Agar-agar. A replacement for gelatin.
  • Fish sauce. This item can be bought or made at home.
  • Nutritional yeast. Used to give a cheesy flavor.
  • Oyster sauce. This can be made at home or bought from Amazon.
  • Worcestershire sauce. Read labels carefully, some brands are made with anchovies.

Tier 3

  • Kelp powder. Used with Umeboshi, it can be a substitute for sardines.
  • Umeboshi Paste. A pickled plum paste which can be substituted for anchovy paste.

Vegan Additions

Tier 1

  • Shelf-stable almond or coconut milk (unsweetened, plain and vanilla)
  • Shelf-stable tofu

Tier 2

  • Black salt. This salt has a sulfur flavor that can mimic eggs in vegan egg salad and many other applications.
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Liquid smoke. A great way to add a smoky flavor.

Tier 3

  • Medjool Dates. If you are going to make your own substitutes, a lot of them are made with dates. Also, dates are used to make vegan caramel.  

Armed with a full pantry, you can tackle recipes with ease.  It doesn’t matter which level you land; it is all about having fun, and enjoying a great meal made with your hands. The sense of accomplishment  I feel, when I cook, is a boost to my self-esteem.  I challenge you to try cooking as a way to alleviate stress and provide self-care.

If you like this series, let me know!  Would you like to see gluten-free, paleo, and low-carb versions as well? Reach out to me on social media using the hashtag #StockingSeries! Show me pictures of your stocked pantry Instagram and Twitter!

 Coming soon, I will be continuing with the stocking series, featuring cookware and bakeware. Don’t miss a post, sign up for email notifications. 

Don't Forget Your Guide!
 
Download Here
Stocking Pantry Guide is a .PDF in an compressed (zipped) file.  
Categories
Food & Cooking Recipes

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

stir-fried beef and broccoli

Stir-fried beef and broccoli is one of my favorite dishes. It is super quick and straightforward. The key is to get all your mise en place done and cut your flank steak on a bias.  It is also great with chicken, pork tenderloin, and several meat substitutes.

Mise en place means everything in its place.  We also call it “prep work.”  When doing any fast cooking dish, such as stir fry, mise en place is essential.  Take a little time beforehand to get everything, chopped, mixed, and ready to be placed inside the hot wok.

When people say they hate cooking, it is usually for one or more reasons outside of the actual task of cooking.

  1. They do not have the proper tools.
  2. Read the recipe before you start cooking.
  3. Make sure you understand the wording of a recipe.
  4. The recipe poorly written.

Here are a couple of tips for the above.

Before you try this stir-fried beef and broccoli recipe, make sure you have the proper tools.

Those tools include cookware (pots and pans), utensils (tongs, spatulas, graters, and such).  When picking a recipe, make sure you have all you need to perform the method.  Also, a sharp knife makes all the difference in the world.  Pick a “steel” for honing the knives. Proper storage goes a long way. Guards for the blades or magnetic strips are excellent ideas. I would skip the storage block as some can dull the knives. I would suggest skipping the home sharpening for a professional.  Depending on how much usage the blades get, they may only need sharpening once or twice a year.

Read the recipe before you start cooking. 

There is nothing worse than getting everything together to realize some has marinated for 8 hours.  Reading a recipe for more than the list of ingredients is vital.  It can tell you when is the best time to make the recipe, such as weekend or weekday.

Make sure you understand the wording of a recipe

Not all recipes are well written. Some cooks assume you have a specific knowledge set when writing a recipe.  Some methods are for professional cooks and chefs.  The New Food Lovers Companion (2001) is an excellent book for all cooking terms.  Once you get a handle on the definitions, another great book is Culinary Artistry (1996). This book helps with pairing flavors.

Once there is a good understanding of the four tips above, cooking becomes a much easier process.  Try them out and let me know what you think!

 

stir-fried beef and broccoli

Stir-Fried Beef and Broccoli

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Can marinate the beef up to 10 hours, if that fits your schedule better
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian
Diet: Diabetic, Low Fat, Low Lactose
Keyword: Asian, beef, chicken, stir-fry
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Marinating: 30 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 4
Calories: 221kcal

Equipment

  • 12-in non-stick skillet or wok
  • 2 Large bowls
  • Small bowl

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoons cornstarch and honey.
  • Cut Flank steak lengthwise if half. With knife held in slanting position, almost parallel to the cutting surface, cut each half of steak crosswise into ⅛-inch thick slices. Add meat to soy mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Cut broccoli into small florets. With vegetable peeler; peel broccoli stems; cut into ⅛-inch thick slices.
  • In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over high heat. Add broccoli florets and stems and cook, stirring frequently (stir-frying), 1 minute. Add ¼ cup water. Cover and cook 2 minutes; remove cover and cookie, stir-frying, until water has evaporated, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to large bowl; keep warm. Wipe skillet with paper towels.
  • In skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over high heat until very hot. Add half of the beef and stir-fry until browned, about 3 minutes, transferring meat as it is browned to bowl with broccoli. Repeat with 1 teaspoon oil and remaining beef.
  • In small bowl, blend remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water until smooth; set aside. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in skillet over high heat until hot. Add ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper; cook 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ⅓ cup water and oyster sauce; heat to boiling. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry until sauce has thickened and boils. Stir beef and broccoli into sauce in pan; heat through. Transfer to warm platter.
Tried this recipe?Mention @taysbpkitchen or tag #taysbpkitchen!

Notes

Variation: Beef with Snow Peas and Carrots
Prepare as directed but omit broccoli. Stir-fry 8 ounces snow peas and 8 ounces carrots, sliced, in ½ teaspoon oil. 
Variation:  You can use white or dark meat chicken instead of beef.

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 812mg | Potassium: 406mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
stir-fried chicken and broccoli
Stir-Fried Chicken and Broccoli
Categories
Food & Cooking

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

red beans and riceCajun Red Beans and Rice is one of my favorite comfort foods.  It is an inexpensive and easy soul-satisfying meal.  People have been using beans and rice for decades to feed their families on a budget.  With the vegan version of this dish, it is even less expensive to make.  A pound of most dried beans cost around $1.50 and will feed about four to six people. 

The vegetables are nothing fancy, just the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Trinity is to Cajun and Creole cooking as the Mirepoix is French cooking.  Both mirepoix and the trinity are flavor bases for the cuisines. The trinity consists of onion, celery, and bell pepper.  The mirepoix is onions, celery, and carrot.  Usually, there is a 2:1 ratio, with the onions being the more significant part.  For example, if you have one cup of onion, you would need a half cup of celery and a half cup of carrots or bell pepper. 

Seasoning

Now for the seasoning, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper is mandatory. No ifs, ands or buts! Next, are the other spices, such as cayenne pepper, smoked paprika (or liquid smoke), and thyme.  Now some say, do not add salt to your beans as they cook because they will never get soft.  In the past, it has been my experience adding salt at the start of the cooking process lengthens the cooking time. 

All of this simmers in a luxurious vegetable stock. I like Kitchen Basics. There are a few options for cooking vessels: crockpot, in a pot on the stovetop, or an Instant Pot.  To honest, I have heard people using their oven on low in lew of a crockpot. One other thing, if you go the stovetop route. Make sure the pot is covered.   Using a lid ensures you have plenty of liquid to go over your rice.

Lastly, about 30 minutes before your beans are done, put a pot of rice.  Do yourself a favor, and drop a bay leaf in there as well. 

I hope you enjoy our little chat about Cajun red beans and rice.  Feel free to check out some recipes while you are here. 

Categories
Food & Cooking

Vegan Peach Cobbler Muffins

One could say Vegan Peach Cobbler muffins came to be as a result of my move. Within months of moving to Dayton, OH, I was introduced to the Peach Truck. If you are unfamiliar with the Peach Truck, first let me say I am sorry (unless you are from CA, since we have our own peaches).  Second, let me introduce you.  The Peach Truck goes on tour to select states each year to deliver fresh Georgia peaches and pecans.  Before, you run to their website to see if your state is on the list, you should probably line up some a few recipes.  The Georgian gems come in a 25 pound box!

Can you keep a secret? I ate a few of the peaches.  Okay, that was not much a secret, but truth be told, I was suppose to breaking them down to freeze them. Getting a fuzzy peach ready for the freezer requires a little bit of work.  First a small, shallow “x” is cut into the bottom of the peach.  They are then given a quick dip into a boiling water, then into an ice bath.  Now the skins are ready to come off. 

From there it is all about slicing and discarding the pits.  Before the peaches go into the freezer, you’ll need to take out some browning insurance.  In comes our favorite kitchen acid, the lemon. Tossing the peaches in a bit of lemon juice will keep the brown away.  You can also use powdered vitamin C.  Gently lay the peaches on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet, and pop in the freezer. After they are frozen, slide them into a zip-top bag or vacuum seal them for future use.  For more details check out the tutorial from The Kitchn.

Peach Cobbler Muffins

Fast forward to late November, I am staring at leftover peach cobbler filling.  Then there was a light bulb moment, muffins need to be made immediately.  My roommate is vegan, so vegan peach cobbler muffins needed to made. After sorting through a few recipes online, I decided upon this one from the Minimalist Baker.  The apples were switched out and the peach cobbler filling took their place. A few liberties were taken with topping as one can see.

Creating these muffins was a ton of fun.  Recipes will be posted again soon!