I’ve been trying to adult more in 2019, especially when it comes to cooking, and so far it’s going so-so. Luckily, I have a few chef friends, who I sometimes turn to for help and inspiration in my home cooking. I’ve noticed that one of my major pitfalls in cooking at home is that I make the same recipes over and over, because I already have the ingredients in my pantry.
I realised that in order for me to push myself to cook different recipes, I’ll need to restock my pantry. It’s so easy to try out new things when you already have most of the basic ingredients ready!
I decided to turn to some of my chef friends and find out what they recommend everyone has in their pantry — here’s what they had to say:
Spice up your life
All the chefs agreed that some of the most important things to have in your pantry, are herbs and spices to enhance the flavour of your dishes. The most obvious staples are, of course, salt and pepper — but don’t just buy table salt and ground pepper, for the best flavour, splurge on Maldon sea salt and a proper pepper grinder.
Next up are spices that can be used in both savoury cooking and baking, to enhance the flavour of any dish. Buying cinnamon and nutmeg fresh and grating when needed drastically improves the flavour of the spices, as well as dishes they are used in.
For herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley and bay leaves, freeze-dried variants are a great way to ensure you always have herbs in your house without having to worry about them going off before they can be used, and without compromising on taste. Other aromatics to always have in your spice rack include coriander seeds, cumin, curry spice and smoked paprika.
With the right sauces, you’ll always be able to pack flavour into almost any dish, even if it’s end of the month and you just have dried pasta and some leftover chicken in the fridge!
Every single one of my chef friends has said that everyone should have a good, high-quality soy sauce in their cupboard. Just a few splashes adds a salty and umami component to any dish, which helps to balance the other flavour profiles. Other great saucy ingredients are olive oil, white or red wine vinegar, honey and wholegrain or dijon mustard, and some kind of hot sauce like tabasco or sriracha.
Rice, Rattle and Roll
When it comes to dry ingredients, having staples such as rice, couscous, maize meal, lentils and pasta will ensure that you can bulk up any basic meal. Other basic and affordable ingredients that add substance to any meal include canned goods such as sweetcorn, baked beans and kidney beans.
When it comes to baking, there’s no substitute for good quality bread or cake flour. Many chefs prefer Eureka Mills stone ground flour, which might be a bit more expensive than your average flour, but the end result is definitely worth it!
Do you have any other suggestions to add to your perfect pantry? Let me know in the comments!