TIPS: The Basic Kitchen – Part Deux

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September 2, 2007 by bernadiva

Once you have outfitted your kitchen with the proper equipment, you are not quite ready to start cooking. When I moved into my apartment, I had to think long and hard about what to buy from the grocery store because I had NOTHING in my cupboards – I’d been used to living with roommates who already had their kitchen staples, or my parents who always had way too much in the pantry (“What am I supposed to use this for?”). After having my own place for the past four years, I have finally compiled a list of what you should have at all times.

Vegetable Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Non-stick cooking spray (canola) – duh.

Salt and Black pepper – if you can, try to get salt & pepper grinders and use sea salt and whole peppercorns.

Vinegar – white, balsamic, and perhaps malt varieties.

Soy sauce – very useful, and keeps for a long time.

Spices – only buy what you need, don’t buy a spice rack unless you’re really planning on using every single spice on there. I like to buy a bunch of containers from Cost Plus World Market and label them, and refill them with spices as needed. My personal staples are basil, oregano, parsley, cinnamon, red chili flakes, and Herbes de Provence. Anything else, I tend to buy it as I need it, like when a recipe calls for it.

Sugar, Flour, Cornstarch – always necessary for some reason or another. Flour can be used to make a roux, cornstarch can be used to thicken sauces and stews, and sugar is always handy.

Red & White Wine – I keep one bottle of red and one bottle of white on hand, not to drink, but in case I need them for cooking. Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw wines are $1.99 and worth every penny.

Other Foodstuffs:

White rice, pasta, can of whole peeled tomatoes, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, coffee/tea, wine (to drink), garlic, onions, cheese, one box of chicken broth (for when you don’t have time to make your own), condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayo), and for “just in case you have guests” – a bottle of champagne.

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