Below is my list of “Essentials”… Keeping your pantry, refrigerator and freezers stocked with the essentials will make life easier! Plan your week accordingly and make meals ahead so your busy week does not get in the way of a great meal. I also keep items stocked for last minute guests! I hope this list helps you to make things a little easier.
If you are following a diet or have dietary restrictions then this list will vary but it is a good guideline for everyday ingredients to keep handy!
In the Pantry
Here is a list of items that you should always have in the pantry.
Arrowroot powder (thickening agent)
Bouillon cubes (beef and chicken, just in case you run out of chicken broth)
Bread crumbs (Italian and plain)
Chicken broth (stock, low sodium)
Chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
Cornstarch (great thickening agent)
Nuts (almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, wal-nuts)
Roasted Red Peppers
Stocks of broth (chicken, beef, and vegetable)
Spices and dried herbs
Tomato sauce and paste
Here is a list of items for the refrigerator
These are items you will use often. Buy only what you need for the week, as refrigerator life on most foods is very short.
Butter (keep an extra box in the freezer—I buy unsalted)
Buttermilk (only if you plan on using during the week – it also comes in powder)
CapersCreams (if you plan on baking—half-and-half, light cream, heavy cream, sour cream, cream cheese)
Fresh protein (chicken, meat, pork)
Garlic (fresh and minced in a jar)
Milk (skim or 1 percent)
Here is a list of food to keep in your freezer
If you are at the grocery store and poultry, meats, or fish are on sale, buy them now and freeze for later.
Chopped onion (great for cooking when you don’t have a fresh one handy)
Spinach (chopped and leaf)
Frozen fruit (when your bananas are getting too ripe and you’re not going to use them, peel and freeze them—they’re great for smoothies)
Ginger (great for cooking and tea)
Lean ground turkey or chicken (buy in bulk and put in individual freezer-safe bags)
Leftovers (freeze in single-serving containers—great for easy reheating; make a salad, and dinner is done!)
Nuts (they keep longer in the freezer (raw and pine nuts)
Parmesan cheese rind (great for extra flavor in soup)
Prime cuts of beef (if you’re going to spend the money to buy them, enjoy them fresh)
Raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Sausage (breakfast and Italian)
Unsalted nuts (buy in bulk and leave in the freezer)
Veggie or meat burgers (all prepared)
Cindy’s Tips: Buy chicken and hamburger in bulk when on sale – put into individual freezer safe bags and ready to use! Also, when you make homemade marinara/tomato sauce – put in individual freezer bags, lay flat on top of each other.
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