Much like my post on Mise En Place, there are certain steps that need to be undertaken when you want to spend time in the kitchen. You need a place to work that’s clean, you need to pre-heat oven if you intend to use it (just gonna beat you over the head with this one), but most importantly, you need ingredients to cook with. It’s simple, common sense stuff that may have some nodding along because that’s simple. You look at the recipe, you buy your ingredients at the store, you come home and cook.
And while everything I’ve just written is accurate, to an extent, take it from someone who has lived in places like Alaska: you always want a well stocked kitchen. Heaven forbid you get stuck home because of a blizzard or a global pandemic, you are going to need supplies at home should you be unable to go to the store.
After all, a good captain is ready for everything and this post aims to help you stay prepared for whatever may come your way.
Stocking The Basics
Now, I am not the Captain of your Kitchen. I run the Captain’s Table, not the USS (whatever you named your kitchen, right now, do it), but there are certain things that will pop up in a lot of recipes and those are what I am listing. If you do not like a certain ingredient, don’t use it or substitute it–like lactaid instead of milk or substituting something else for eggs for my vegans.
- Pasta – Elbow, Spaghetti, Fettucine, Linguine, Penne. I love all of them, but get what you like because pasta dishes are easy and versatile.
- Rice – Like pasta there is a huge variety. I prefer brown rice, white rice and an Arborio because I love risotto.
- Canned Tomatoes – Always cheap, comes in a great variety (paste, sauce, puree, whole peeled, diced).
- Stock/Broth – Beef, Chicken and Vegetable broths are a great staple. That being said, I use bouillon cubes because they last longer or make it myself.
- Beans – I keep red beans in my home because I’m not a big bean person. Also cans of baked beans, but that’s it. So on this one? Via con dios.
- Canned Vegetables – Corn, carrots, peas, beans, whatever. I keep a lot of this in the pantry. You can have more fun with it than you might realize.
- Flour – All Purpose is good enough here, but maybe you want variety.
- Sugar – White and confectioners sugar as the best. Brown sugar can be made by mixing 1 cup white sugar and 1 tblsp molasses so that you never have brown sugar go bad on you.
- Baking Soda & Baking Powder – They aren’t the same. They serve different purposes. Please get both.
- Vanilla – Always comes up when baking from scratch.
- Yeast – If you’re making bread, you want this.
- Bread – Yeah, I know what I just wrote, but sometimes you don’t want to make bread from scratch.
- Oil – Olive oil and vegetable oil are what I would suggest. And yes I suggest both since olive oil has a distinct flavor you don’t want in all foods and oils have different heat thresholds.
- Vinegar – Apple cider, Distilled white vinegar and rice are all great. And Balsamic, which is more varied than you might think.
- Spices – Anything you like to season with is a great spice, but here are my top ten: Bay Leaves, Ginger, Smoked Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cinnamon, Basil, Oregano, Red Pepper Flakes, Thyme, Sage. Salt and pepper don’t count because you should just have those.
- Honey – Maybe it’s just me, but honey comes up in a lot of recipes I see. Also, it just tastes amazing.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Soy Sauce –
The fridge is different than your pantry and there are different things I would suggest keeping there for some fun in the kitchen.
- Greens – Oh yeah, we’re eating our vegetables. Heart greens like kale or collards are great, regardless of the learning curve. Like uncut fruit they will keep for about a week. Spinach, also great but don’t forget it because it will wilt in bag.
- Frozen Fruits & Vegetables – You don’t even have to buy frozen. You can buy fruit and veggies, cut them up and put them in a freezer bag. Just remember to remove as much air as possible.
- Hard Cheeses – any block cheese is great. Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere. You can also go for bagged shredded but be warned that they create a different texture when making things like mac and cheese.
- Eggs – They come up a lot in recipes. So, yeah.
- Cream Cheese – You can this but blocks are fairly cheap and they are great for baking and desserts and many other meals. I have like six in my fridge.
- Butter – I keep one stick in my fridge and like four boxes in my freezer. I also have a kitchen fridge, a garage fridge, a deep freezer and a mini fridge in my room. So be mindful of you own space and what you’re cooking.
- Meats – Freezing meats is the best choice? I prep frozen chicken for my lunches for the week, I keep various cuts of meats in my deep freezer. But remember to freeze meats that won’t lose integrity in the freezer like a roast, ground meats, bone in chicken pieces. Also seafood.
Other Staples To Consider
- Nut Butters
- Coconut Milk
- Salsas & Sauces
- Corn Meal
- Corn Syrup
- Evaporated Milk
- Cooking wine
- Condensed Milk
- Hot Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
Storage and Cooking Aids
Finally, you’re going to want certain items in your kitchen to make cooking easier and cleaner. And this is probably the only section I fully advise to have regardless because they are useful tools.
- Aluminum Foil
- Plastic Bags – Sandwich bags, freezer bags, bags. It all comes in handy.
- Plastic Wrap
- Wax Paper – If you ever bake, it makes life better.
- Wooden skewers – Great for grilling in the summer, but also great for testing if your baked good is actually done.
- Meat Thermometer – This is one of two weird ones but bear with me if you eat meat because it is good and useful. You can poke it into your meat so you can ensure you’ve fully cooked the meat.
- Food Scale – It’s basically for flour. Now that I’ve calmed the anti-fitspo people, flour is best measure by weight because it’s fluffy making it harder to get an accurate reading on how you use with a measuring cup.
- Measuring Cups – Liquid and dry. Yes, a cup is a cup no matter what you use, but wet goods are easier to measure in a wet measuring cup.
So that’s the long and short of it. If something on this isn’t for you, don’t’ get it. This list was designed to be fairly general based on the use of the items, but no one knows your tastes quite like you do. So live long and prosper, Captains. Thanks for stopping by.