Just got the latest issue of Cooking Light (I love that magazine!) and there is this whole section on must-have items! I've been planning on adding this to my blog since I started it but just haven't really had the motivation to get started. I'll put down what CL has for each category then I'll also add my own ideas. Hopefully this will help new cooks as well as seasoned veterans looking for new ideas! :)
Hurray for Cooking Light!
Frequently used cooking staples:
*Oils - olive and canola are the ones you will probably use most. These two are also healthier than things like peanut oil. You will also want cooking spray (Pam - they even have an organic version, now, and one for grilling!), and butter (if you bake, you will want to keep unsalted butter on hand. The regular, salted, stuff if usually called for in savoury recipes).
*Vinegars - I always keep balsamic (I make salad dressings with it on an almost daily basis), white wine, and red wine. In addition, I have just regular old cheap white vinegar (I use it to clean my house and will sub it for white wine vinegar in a pinch!) Vinegar can also be a handy lemon juice substitute in sauces.
*Fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth. I like to get the organic/free range broth. I don't really think it's fat-free, but it is definitely lower-sodium which is the bigger concern in my house.
*Canned tomatoes and beans - you can get the pre-flavoured tomatoes; however, I prefer to just get the plain diced ones. I can then add my own blends of herbs to them depending on whether I'm making a soup, spaghetti sauce, or enchiladas.
*Sauces - soy (lower-sodium), Worcestershire, BBQ (I make my own but it's good to have a bottle if you're in a hurry!), Tabasco or a similar hot sauce.
*Dried pasta and rice. I also like to keep some couscous on hand to change it up a bit.
*Panko - Japanese bread crumbs. I find them so much easier to work with than the breadcrumbs I used to make from a slice of bread! The panko doesn't fall of my food the second I try to flip it! lol
*Wine (red and white) and sherry.
*Spices and herbs - I will come back and add more to this. For now, here are my most used: oregano, cumin, basil, dill, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder/garlic salt (I prefer to just use a clove of garlic, but this is good in a hurry!), thyme, rosemary, parsley flakes, lemon-pepper seasoning, Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning (I mix it into burgers for my hubby), Grill Mates Chicken Rub, chili powder.
*For baking - vanilla extract (I like the pure, alcohol-free stuff), ground ginger, ground cinnamon, honey.
*Flour - you can probably get away with just buying all-purpose and always having a stash of that on-hand. See the list of substitutions on this blog to see how you can use this in place of cake flour.
*Sugar - granulated cane sugar is a must. If you bake, you will also want light and dark brown sugar (also handy if you do a lot of BBQ!) and powdered/confectioners' sugar.