Pantry Essentials 101
BY ERIC GUIDO | JUNE 26, 2020
It’s amazing to think that only three months ago, the average household didn’t need to put much thought into a pantry. Stocking a pantry had become a thing of the past, unless you were running a food bank, shelter or well-organized college fraternity. If you needed something, you simply went to your local supermarket or deli to get it. When planning a large meal for the weekend, a glance at your recipe and a quick check through the cupboard was all that was needed to know if an ingredient should be jotted down on your grocery list.
The pantry was all but forgotten.
However, the changes we all witnessed around the world in 2020 sent most families running to their supermarkets to stock up. Many of us hoarded as much as we could in fear of the worst. In most cases, what the majority of homes ended up with was a whole lot of pasta and frozen pizza. As things have settled down, it still isn’t uncommon that we wait in line at the supermarket for an hour just to get in, and what we’re often faced with are empty shelves. This has forced us to rediscover the importance of the pantry, and to “up our game”, so to speak. It was with this in mind that the Vinous in the Kitchen Pantry Essentials episode came to be.
Frankly, anyone can stock a pantry, but there are a few things that separate my family from the average household, and these have given me some interesting insights. For one thing, since the day I graduated culinary school, it was decided that I would be doing all of the cooking in the house. And so, like many households where a chef or ex-chef does all the cooking, there is a certain set of necessities that we were taught to always have on hand. What’s more, I cook or prepare fresh meals nearly every day of the week; breakfast, lunch and dinner. With that many meals being made from day to day and week to week, it’s important to always have variety. Lastly, in today’s day and age, it’s not uncommon that we make multiple dishes or preparations for one family meal. The days of “eat what your mother made you or go to bed without super” are far behind us. The modern family has to cook around food allergies, trendy diets and, of course, picky teenagers. In our case, we have all three. However, while I have the allergies and the trendy diet, I would never force my teenage kids to eat only what I make.
Therefore, our pantry is incredibly diverse, and it has been now for over a decade, which has given me a number of thoughts into what should be in a well-stocked and maintained kitchen. Plus, just to make sure I had all of the bases covered for the average family, I made sure to quiz as many highly-qualified moms from around my neighborhood as possible.
So, let’s get started. While the video will provide visual aids and a few added tips and tricks, the lists below are a great place to start if you want to make sure that you have everything you need to throw down like an Iron Chef, any day of the week.
The video tutorial is packed full of hints and tips for pantry essentials.
Salt and Pepper
Sea Salt *Health Conscience
Smoked Sea Salt
Whole Peppercorns (and grinder)
To learn how to make your own stock, check out Vinous in the Kitchen: Stock Essentials.
Herbs and Spices
Paprika (Hot and Sweet)
Red Chili Flakes
Having a spice rack next to your stove with key spices is beneficial because you don't have to continuously open your cupboard while cooking.
Magic Mushroom Powder
Curry Blends (African, Mediterranean, Indian, Asian)
Tandoori Masala Spice Blend
Herbs de Provence
Xanthan Gum (Sounds like a chemical, but it’s not, and it has superior thickening power for sauces, dressings, gravies or soups.)
Oils for Drizzling
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italian and Spanish are favorites)
Truffle Oil (Black, white or both)
Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
Oils used for drizzling are different from cooking oils, and both oils and vinegar are great for various marinades and dressings.
White Wine Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar * Health Conscience
Balsamic Vinegar (Look for real Balsamic, without added food colorings and flavors.)
Oils for Cooking
Grapeseed oil (high heat)
Canola Oil (high heat)
Avocado Oil (high heat) * Health Conscience
Peanut Oil (high heat)
Coconut Oil (medium to high heat) * Health Conscience
Olive Oil (medium to high heat)
Ghee – Clarified Butter (low to medium heat)
Canola Oil can be used to clean out cast iron pans with Kosher salt over high heat.
Packaged and Dried Goods
Pasta (Spaghetti and Ziti are classics)
Rice (Basmati Brown, Jasmati)
Risotto Rice (Arborio or Carnaroli)
Quinoa * Health Conscience
Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Macadamia)
To learn how to make an Asparagus Risotto, check out Vinous in the Kitchen: Jump Start Spring with Asparagus Risotto.
Canned and Jarred Goods
San Marzano Tomatoes
Soups (Tomato, Butternut Squash, Broccoli Cheddar and Chicken)
Canned items can make for incredible meals when you are out of fresh ingredients.
Fermented Fish Sauce
Toasted Sesame Oil
Toasted Seaweed (Sushi Nori)
Condiments, Dressings and Marinades
Hot Sauce (Chipotle, Jalapeño, Tabasco)
Mustard (Brown and Dijon)
Dressings and Marinades (Italian, Greek, Ranch and Caesar)
Tabasco brings flavor and not just heat to a wide variety of dishes.
Chocolate (for eating)
Macaroni and Cheese (mix)
Rice (Seasoned Mixes)
Powdered Stevia (natural sugar substitute) *Health Conscience
Marshmallows (trust me, if well stored, they don’t go bad)