Pantry Must-Haves

As a teacher, both my budget and my time are severely limited but, I LOVE food. Too many people assume that food can’t be both tasty and good for you, or that cooking is simply too much work for their busy lives. Lies and deceit! I’m here to show you how easy, fun and cost-effective it can be to whip up delicious, good-for-you meals. My cooking style is heavily influenced by both Spanish small-plate delights and Southern staples and I’ve mastered the delicate balance between leaner fare and comfort foods. Whether you’re a kitchen novice in need of serious help or a seasoned chef looking for new inspiration, The Cute Cook is here for you!

When I first lived on my own, I constantly found myself ready to make a recipe only to discover I was missing something. After a few failed culinary remixes (FYI: brown sugar and white sugar are cousins, not identical twins), I finally learned how to cultivate a well-stocked pantry. Think of this list as your kitchen’s first aid kit. I guarantee that if you keep these on hand, you’ll be able to KEEP IT CUTE in the kitchen at the drop of a dime.

 

BABY SPINACH (High fiber. Tasty. Easy. ‘Nuff said.)

BAKING POWDER

BAKING SODA

BALSAMIC VINEGAR

BARBECUE SAUCE

BASIL (Dried is fine unless you’re making something that calls for fresh.)

BELL PEPPER (Pre-sliced and frozen cuts waste and prep time!)

BLACK BEANS (If you’re pressed for time, canned are really helpful; just make sure to get a low-sodium variety.)

BROWN SUGAR

CILANTRO

CINNAMON

COARSELY GROUND SEA SALT

COCOA POWDER

CRESCENT ROLLS (These can be used to create SOOOO many recipes!)

CRUSHED RED PEPPER

EGGS

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

FLOUR

FLOUR TORTILLAS

GREEN ONIONS

HONEY

ITALIAN DRESSING (The vinegar makes it an awesome quickie marinade for meats.)

JELLY/MARMALADE  (I prefer slightly acidic varieties like raspberry and orange)

MAYONAISSE (Don’t skimp and buy the cheap stuff.  Try an olive oil-based variety for a special kick.)

LEMONS

LIMES

MILK (I prefer skim for drinking, but keep whole, 2% or heavy cream around when I’m baking.)

MINCED GARLIC (Has a longer shelf life than fresh and cuts your prep time.)

MOLASSES

NUTMEG

OIL (Canola or vegetable)

OLD BAY SEASONING (The absolute BEST for seafood!)

ONIONS

ORANGE JUICE

OREGANO

PARMESAN

PASTA (Consider funky shapes to jazz up traditional recipes.)

PANKO BREAD CRUMBS (They crisp up nicer than other kinds and aren’t loaded with salt/seasoning.)

PEANUT BUTTER

PEPPERCORNS (Fresh ground > pre-ground, always. Invest in a mill, they aren’t at all expensive and totally worth it.)

POTATOES (White potatoes are a no-brainer; sweet potatoes are a surprisingly versatile and healthy choice.)

POWDERED GARLIC (I add this to water when boiling it for pasta instead of salt.)

POWDERED SUGAR

PREMADE PIE CRUSTS 

RED PEPPER

SALSA

SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS

SHREDDED CHEESE (I keep sharp cheddar and mozzarella around. When the block varieties are on sale, I shred them and keep store in a zip top bag.)

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK (Loads of quickie desserts can be made with these)

TOMATOES

TOMATO PASTE

TOMATO PUREE (Ever since I figured out how easy it is to make my own sauce, I’ve never looked back.)

TONY CHACHERE’S FAMOUS CREOLE SEASONING (NO MSG and it is much better than seasoned salt!)

TURBINADO SUGAR (It’s sweeter than regular sugar and considered better for you.)

VANILLA EXTRACT

VEGETARIAN BAKED BEANS

UNSALTED BUTTER

Follow The Cute Cook on Tumblr and Twitter