Though there are a number of pantry staples that you should always have on hand (olive oil, salt and pepper, chicken stock, etc.) some are more useful than others when the seasons change. If you don’t already, make a habit of looking at the items in your pantry every 3 months; take a quick inventory of what you have and make sure you stock up on items that you’ll need for the upcoming months.
As the weather grows colder, this becomes more important; a well-stocked pantry can save you a trip to the grocery store on a cold and snowy day. Here are a few of the most useful items to have on hand for cold-weather cooking.
For the Healthy Eater
Stock up on a variety of whole grains; relying on brown rice and whole-wheat pasta can get monotonous so stock your shelves with quinoa, farro, and barley too. These grains each have their own distinct taste and texture and (when they replace rice or pasta) can transform a go-to dish into something fresh and exciting.
For the Busy Weeknight Cook
The slow cooker is one of the best ways to cook a complete meal on a busy night. If you do a lot of slow cooking, stock your pantry with dry soup mix packets, dried spices, and flavorful canned goods like fire-roasted tomatoes during the winter. Then, any meat, poultry, or vegetable that you have on hand or in your freezer can easily be transformed into a quick and flavorful meal.
For the Creative Cook
Dried beans and dried lentils may not sound exciting but stock up; they can be cooked, mashed, and mixed with onions and seasonings for a super delicious vegetarian “burger” or puréed with garlic and spices to make a number of hearty dips and sandwich spreads.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.