Maybe you’re just starting out on your cooking journey and are wondering what’s absolutely essential in your cooking arsenal. Or perhaps you’re a seasoned cook, but you’re not quite sure when the last time was that you stocked your herbs and spices, let alone what’s hidden in the depths of your pantry. Or maybe you’re giving that whole minimalist living thing a try in the spirit of less food waste and more counter space – whatever camp you fall into, we salute you! We asked our very own Executive Chef Jimmy what his desert-island pantry essentials are, and he delivered. Read on for his must-haves and some helpful tips on how to shop for and store your new go-to ingredients.
1. Shop the Bulk Bins.
This might seem counterintuitive, but if your grocery store has a bulk section, check it out before investing in pre-packaged spices. The bulk bins are refilled more often, which means your herbs and spices are guaranteed to be fresher. You’re also in control of buying exactly what you need – no more and no less! This often equates to savings across the board, plus – no musty spices sitting at the back of your cupboard. Because those won’t do anything for you or your recipes.
2. Cruise by the Ethnic Aisle.
We know – food isn’t cheap, and stocking your pantry with quality ingredients can add up fast. A great tip to do so on a budget is looking beyond the herbs and spices aisle and instead checking out your store’s Ethnic foods selection. These smaller brands they’re often far cheaper and come in larger containers than what you’d find in the regular section. It’s worth seeing what’s in stock! That way when it comes to ingredients like olive oil and vanilla extract, you can buy the top shelf options.
3. Invest in Smart Storage.
After you bring your new ingredients home, you’re going to want to make sure you keep them as fresh and accessible as possible! Invest in an inexpensive glass cruet for your olive oil, a grinder for your peppercorns, and a salt cellar for your Kosher salt. Just be sure to store them away from sunlight to extend their shelf life.
4. Know your Cooking Style.
Not a curry fan? Are you more of a spicy food fiend? Use this list as a guide, and tailor it to fit your cooking style and flavor preferences. A well stocked pantry is the first step to cooking well and more often at home, so when you’re not cooking with us, you’ve got everything you need to recreate your favorite recipes!