Erika Wassall, the Jersey Farm Scriber here with foods you should always have in your kitchen. I know cooking everyday can be tedious. As the clock gets closer to 5:00 and you realize you don’t have a dinner planned, tensions can rise and you can start struggling to figure out what you’ll throw together. You know you went shopping, so you have some proteins, but what are you going to DO with them to turn simple ingredients, into full, satisfying meals, without spending an hour preparing the meal? That’s when these must have food items in your kitchen will come in handy!
Keeping a few essential foods in the house at all times, can help turn those last-minute meals, into masterpieces. So here are my top suggestions for basic food you need in your kitchen to always be prepared.
Basic Food You Need In Your Kitchen
When it comes to food to have in your kitchen, chicken broth is a staple. Chicken broth is for so much more than soup. It’s so simple. But chicken broth can add real depth to any meal. Try substituting it for the water when cooking a starch. It will add so much flavor to rice or quinoa. Sauté or braise carrots, chicken or eggplant in a few tablespoons of chicken broth for a delightful infusion of flavor. Mix a few tablespoons with butter for a lovely butter sauce or stir some into some gravy that got too thick.
For these types of purposes, I don’t like to buy the canned broth, because then I either have to use the whole can, or throw the rest away. So I get the re-sealable boxes allowing you to just use what you need, and not waste anything.
Or, even better, make some of your own! It’ll have extra flavor and is easily storable in small amounts. Try my easy chicken broth recipe, made entirely from ingredients you otherwise would have thrown away.
Then pour it into an ice cube tray, wait for them to freeze, and dump them out into a freezer bag. Voila! Instant single servings of chicken broth, about two tablespoons each (depending on your tray of course).
If you read my No Leftover Left Behind article, you know that I LOVE having wraps in the house. Basically, you can cut ANY thing up and stick them in there, and you’ve got a delicious, individually customized meal. And a little filling goes a long way with these babies, so it doesn’t even take much. Throw some rice on the stove, and scavenge out the fridge for anything you can cut in small pieces.
Try new combinations! Wraps are a great opportunity to try combining foods you may not have normally combined. Tortillas are for more than chicken and rice. Leftover sausage with pasta sauce, balsamic vinegar, spinach and zucchini may sound like a strange match up. But it’s what I had in the fridge one day and now it’s asked for by name!!
So when 5:00 starts to roll around, and you’re stressing the lack of planned out food, knowing you have a package of flour tortillas can make all the difference! When it comes to basic food you need in your kitchen, tortilla wraps are way up there!
Onion Soup Mix
Onion soup mix literally makes everything taste amazing. No need to buy the fancy stuff. I can usually find a generic box of four on sale for a $1 and I’ll stock up by buying five or six.
Use a teaspoon of it to slightly thicken a sauce. Accidentally add in too much water or chicken broth? Counter with some onion soup mix to condense the flavor. Or toss in with your rice or quinoa as another way to spice up your starch. Or, a bit more unconventionally, throw some on the potatoes before you put them in the oven, cover the chicken in it before baking it, or use it as a rub on a steak. Have a pound or so of ground meat in the fridge? Cook it up with a packet of onion soup mix and the flavor will astound you. Or mix up the soup and throw in whatever veggies you have on hand.
The versatility of things you can do with onion soup mix is actually a little mind blowing! Once I started using it for more than soup or dip recipes, I realized how flavorful it really is. That is why is now on my list of essential foods to have in the kitchen at all times.
And if the salt content, processed ingredients or gluten bothers you, here is a homemade onion soup mix recipe so you can easily make your own and have full control over what’s in it.
More Essential Foods To Have In The Kitchen:
- Canned Beans – I always have canned kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans on hand. This way I am never without a protein and I can throw together a salad or a rice bean bowl anytime.
- Rice- As one of standard starches so serve as a side, I am never without rice in my kitchen.
- Pasta- Talk about easy goodness! This is an essential cabinet food item.
- Frozen peas and frozen corn. I don’t like to be caught without a vegetable on hand these are particularly easy to cook and taste just like the fresh veggies.
- Olive oil- my go to oil that I use for cooking almost everything!
- A healthy cereal- great for quick breakfast, snacks, lunch, or even dinner when in a pinch!
I hope you find this list of food I have in my kitchen useful. What are your must-have kitchen food add-ins that you always keep on hand? Look me up on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. I always love hearing new ideas!
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I would have to agree with broth (although I use vegetable)… you can add practically any vegetables to turn it into a soup. I think that brown rice could be the other must-have in my kitchen…
Oh, brown rice, that IS a good one. It’s practically a meal on it’s own, plus you can toss anything in there for delicious four-course meal!
One of my favorites is brown rice with salmon, peas and diced red peppers all mixed up together. Yum!!
Oh Alana, I think you just inspired me for what I’m cooking tonight!!! 🙂
Don’t forget a couple of seasonings. Garlic powder, sriracha, chili powder … that’ll make anything taste better. Surprisingly, instant ramen noodles (the packet not the cup) are surprisingly versatile. You just do what you want with them. Soft boiled eggs are really good in the soup, but you can also crunch them up to add to a salad, or cook them in broth with vegetables and protein.