Friday, April 3, 2009

Your Pantry Essentials?

A recent question over at the new LOK Household forum got me thinking. We all know about staples--the items you keep on hand to use for cooking everyday. Things like sugar, and flour, and spices. However, depending on who you are, your "essentials" could be very different from someone else's. My family lives on pasta, however I have a friend whose husband and kids hate it--and thus she never really keeps it on hand. So I began wondering, what would be in a person's top-10 essential list. I did a few searched and I loved the variety of answers I found, such as this one.

After giving it a bit of thought, I came up with my individual list:

1. Dried Pasta - As I mentioned above, pasta is one of our core foods. Granted, the fact that it is relatively inexpensive helps. However, I can safely say my family loves the taste. There is so much you can do with it, and unlike some other starches (such a potatoes), you can pretty much cover it in any kind of sauce and it tastes good.

2. Rice - Another no-brainer, but again one of our favorites. It's funny to think my husband never ate rice as a child, and therefore didn't like it much when we married. Now we have it regularly and he loves it. We use it as a side dish frequently, but more often eat it with stews, chili, etc.

3. Tomatoes - In any manner, but mostly canned. Yes, I know fresh is best, but there are times you simply don't have, or can't get, fresh tomatoes. We use tomatoes for everything, from homemade salsa to stews. You can eat them as is, or puree them to make a sauce. Versatile and yummy.

4. Cheese - For our family, cheese is an essential. It is just one of those things that makes meals taste better. Not to mention that my son who is autistic will eat several foods that he wouldn't normally otherwise, as long as they have some cheese-sauce on them.

5. Garlic - This is probably *the* most used spice in our kitchen, aside from salt and pepper. It is simply an easy way to add flavor to a dish. We used fresh sliced on pizza, minced from a jar in stews, and powdered on pasta. One of my kids' favorite quick meals is simple egg noodles with butter and a healthy shaking of garlic powder.

6. Pinto Beans - Whether dried, refried and canned, or otherwise, this is one of those foods that our family lives on. We use them in typical Mexican dishes like tacos and burritos, but also eaten in a bowl with just a little salsa and cheese on top.

7. Tortillas - We probably go through twice the amount of tortillas than we do bread.

8. Potatoes - Any way shape or form. I keep instant on hand for "quick eat" nights. Bake potato bars are a favorite. Frozen fries covered in cheese sauce is a great treat. Many of our meals would be considered "hashes" because they are served over some sort of potato.

9. Seasoned Salt - I know some people would bristle at this, but if you read the Pioneer Woman Cooks, you'll know she is a big fan. It's not lazy cooking, but quick cooking. I use it in a ton things.

10. Hot Dogs - Again, probably not what everyone would think, but for our house, this is a staple. We eat them often in a variety of ways, from chili-cheese dogs to corndog casserole. For my autistic son, there are times he simply won't eat anything that we are making for dinner, so his alternative dish is hot dogs. Granted, not the epitome of health foods, but dependable sustenance.

So, pushing aside practicality (as much as you can, that is), what would be your top-10 essential list?


On a sidenote, while doing the search on essentials, I came upon this article about the top 10 frugal essentials for a kitchen, to help feed a family on a budget. It's worth a look.

Top-10 Frugal Staples.


Sonshine said...

About 1/2 of your list would be the same as mine.
Mine would like this: pasta, rice, potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, chicken, beef, garlic, apples, and carrots.

If I keep these items along with the staples in the house, I have a happy family. :)

My family is not a big bean family so those don't even make it into the top 25! LOL!

Denise said...

my top 10

These are actually the main items I buy for making almost all our meals.

Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

Just came across your blog. As a mom of five and a frugal homemaking blogger - I love this. :) I have many of the same items on my list. :)

mindingmomma said...

tortillas, potatoes, seasoning salt, hot dogs, brownies, chicken, bananas, ice cream, dumdum lollipops, gatorade

Not the most frugal, but things we can't seem to do without!

The American Homemaker said...

canned beans
frozen french fries
cream of mushroom soup
fruit snacks