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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cooking Ingredient Must-Haves

My oldest friend, Keri, got married in November of 2012. Read about their engagement here. Being a new bride, Keri has started to cook at home more for herself and her husband, Bradley. When we were in Ruidoso, Keri asked what sorts of things I buy at the grocery store. After talking to her, Andy suggested that I write a blog entry describing cooking ingredient must-haves for your kitchen- a "basic staples list" if you will.

So here it is, a list of basics that I believe no cook should be without. I fill my fridge and cupboard with low fat, fat free, healthy choices for my quick, easy, and healthy recipes. Of course, brand/nutritional content is your choice.

I suggest buying the non-perishable items in bulk at a place like Costco. They're less expensive- you can stock up, and you don't have to worry about those spoiling.

In your freezer: Meat, etc.
  • Boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
    • least expensive & best quality I've found is Costco. You can get a bag for $18 of about 14 breasts that are individually wrapped
    • They stay frozen in the freezer, so just buy a bag and pop it in. Pull out however many you need when you're ready for them.
  • Porkchops, lean cut
    • Again- Costco. Buy them in bulk, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Put the wrapped chop in a freezer baggie & freeze until you need them.
  • Hash browns
In your cabinet: Spices & Herbs You can get these fresh or ground. Substitute 1 tbsp fresh for 1 tsp dried. 1/4tsp ground for 1 tsp whole seeds.
  • Basil
  • Black pepper (you need more than what's in your pepper mill)
  • Brown sugar
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon- it can be substituted for nutmeg or allspice
  • Chives
  • Cumin
  • Garlic salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon pepper
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Powdered sugar
  • Rosemary- if you want fresh, let me know- I have humongous bushes of this
  • Sage
  • Salt (you need more than what's in your salt shaker)
  • Sugar or sugar-substitute
  • Vanilla extract
In your refrigerator: Dairy & Perishables
  • Milk
  • Sour cream (buy in the 8 oz containers though unless the recipe specifically calls for it because it expires)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Minced garlic (in a jar)
  • Butter (I use Smart Balance Light with Flax Seed Oil)
  • Eggs
  • Lettuce
  • Salad dressing of your choice
  • Reduced fat sausage *Freeze if not using by use-by date
  • Reduced fat ground beef *Freeze if not using by use-by date
In your pantry/cupboard
  • Chicken broth *Refrigerate after opening. Also, you can pour it into an ice tray and freeze leftovers. Pop out a cube or two when needed.
  • Beef broth
  • Cream of chicken condensed soup
  • Cream of mushroom condensed soup
  • Barbecue sauce *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Bread crumbs- seasoned or non, your pick
  • Croutons
  • Pasta
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Marinara sauce
  • Diced, canned tomatoes
  • Canned, stewed tomatoes
  • Onion, fresh
  • Worcestershire sauce *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Soy sauce *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Mustard *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Mayonnaise or mayo-substitute *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Ketchup *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Tabasco sauce *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Salsa or hot sauce *Refrigerate after opening.
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Non-stick cooking spray- we buy the "Pam: Olive Oil" spray for cooking and "Pam: Grilling" spray for the grill
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic/seran wrap
  • Ziplock baggies (snack, sandwich, and freezer size)
  • Crockpot liners
  • Parchment paper
These ingredients are all found in my recipes. What I usually like to do is stock up on the above items when I can. Sometimes it seems frustrating to buy an $8 spice when you only need 1/4 tsp at a time, but you'll be able to use the rest for quite a while before it goes bad.


  1. This is a great list. So much of the time I find I do not have what I need in the pantry!!!

    1. Thanks, Bunny! I'm glad you find it helpful!! #blog #quick #easy #recipes #katherineinthekitchen #cooking #healthy