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Jul 11, 2008 05:11 PM

What staples do you ALWAYS have on hand?

Hi there--
So here it is again, I'm getting ready to make dinner, and I feel like I have nothing in the house to cook. Either that, or I'm hot and tired and not too creative right now. Nonetheless, it got me thinking about all of you creative chowhounds --

What food items do you always have on hand to put together for dinner? If I were to go to the store this weekend to stock up, what should I get? I have eggs, bread, cheese -- normal stuff. But what items are your go-to items? The ones you make sure never to run out of?

Thanks! I'll get back to marching between the fridge and the pantry hoping for inspiration now...

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  1. All-purpose flour and bread flour.

    Usually some kind of pasta.

    Olive oil and a few types of vinegar.

    Usually have a few kinds of stock in the freezer (beef, chicken and veal, when I'm on top of things).

    Eggs, milk, yogurt, a few cheeses, butter. Chunky hummus--definitely a staple.

    Lots of spices.

    Fresh garlic, onions, potatoes.

    Then everything else is what's fresh, in season, and interesting.

    1. corn tortillas, salsa, eggs, cheese, dried fettuccine or linguine, frozen demiglace, good old fashioned smoked bacon, cubed and frozen, frozen veg from Trader Joe's

      Oh, and soy sauce

      1. Everything David has listed, plus some greens and veggies for a salad.,,,,,,
        A couple of tomatoes/celery/carrots/cucumbers....Greens
        Some tinned fish like tuna in EVOO/salmon/anchovies/sardines.
        We're talking Pantry here... Capital P.
        Great bread.
        You know.... something you can actually EAT! Without too much trouble.
        Don't forget the wine!

        1. Shaoshing rice wine. #1 always.

          Crushed red pepper
          Good Coarse Sea salt
          Flat leaf parsley (in fridge or herb garden)
          Parmesean Reggiano
          Spanish Chorizo- store in freezer if necessary, adds heaps of flavor to everything.
          One bottle excellent champagne, because you never know when you'll need it.

          1. Other than a cabinet full of condiments, I almost always have:

            -chicken stock
            -canned tomatoes of some sort
            -a hunk of parmesan in the freezer
            -a bag of frozen peas
            -dried Asian staples like mushrooms and seaweed
            -furikake (the little glass jars of dried fish, seaweed, sesame seeds, etc. in the Japanese aisle)
            -Taiwanese style dried shredded pork
            -dried Asian style noodles (usually Korean wheat noodles)
            -dried pasta, various shapes

            What all this means is that when I'm in dire straights and need to make something straight out of the pantry, I can almost always make:
            -an "Asiany" noodle soup with whatever leftover vegetable bits I have in my fridge, some dried mushrooms, and a dash of sesame oil and soy sauce
            -a seaweed egg flower soup if I have enough leftovers that I don't want to cook, but not enough to really be a meal
            -penne arrabiata
            -pasta carbonara
            -a big bowl of warm rice sprinkled with furikake, dried shredded pork, and a drizzle of tea oil or sesame oil.

            But those are my quick pantry-friendly comfort foods, so that's what I stock up on. My friend, for example, can make a meal out of half a hunk of brie, and her three staples are: bacon, brie, Trader Joe's pate.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Pei

              Wow, really great suggestions!! Truth is, I personally could make a very happy meal from a hunk of brie as well, but I do have others to feed in my family as well!

              I'm making my shopping list now -- planning on hitting the grocery store and the farmer's market tomorrow.

              1. re: bards4

                I hear you, but I'm not sure I could eat brie as a meal on a regular basis (or should, at least).

                I actually really get a kick out of saying "Hey, we cooked completely out of the pantry today and still managed to have a really healthy, balanced meal."

                Ditto on the bubbly. I always have one cheapo bottle and one expensive bottle tucked away.