- Food and Cooking
Basic Pantry Ingredients of a Cook - Category 1 of 3
A Kitchen Pantry
Category-1 of Basic Pantry Ingredients
OK, I'll call myself a pretty good Cook. I won't jump out there and use the word Chef, but still; I do all right in the kitchen.
And, everyone, from the great Chefs to the lowly Cook like myself have certain foods , spices and staples that we purchase and store for use when we cook.
In my mind there are three major categories of things that we should store and manage in our Pantry.
The first category is a list of items that we plan on using and consuming over the next few weeks, and even though they can be stored for a short period of time, they are either perishable or their flavors degrade if they are stored too long.
The second category is a list of more common items that I keep in my Pantry to provide flexibility in our daily meals, over time. These items are not exotic but common basic ingredients.
And to me, the most important category of things I store in my Pantry is my collection of Herbs and Spices.
The First category, being there for use when needed, in the short term, is a list that is hard to tie down, and realistically, it includes items unique to the individuals in each home, and their tastes.
Category-1 Pantry Ingredients
To name just a few of our favorite items, here are some of the most used Category-1 items in our Pantry:
We love to eat cereals, sometimes as a meal, such as for Breakfast, and sometimes just as a snack.
Because of the way the food manufacturing industry is using chemical additives to improve their profits, we always read the labels of the foods we purchase to at least try to eat healthy.
And on trick we learned is to look on the bottom shelves of the Cereal section of Supermarkets. The package volumes might be larger, but the pricing is often significantly lower than the name brands on the eye-level shelves.
Oh, and get the generics, if possible. There are only so many major growers and those generics are usually just overruns from the big conglomerates who produce for the name brands.
Of course, we don't purchase the sugar coated, chemical infused varieties, but we try to get the basic, unsullied varieties of Oat, Wheat and Corn based cereals that are high in fiber and nutrients while also being relatively low in Fats, Sugars and Calories. If we want to sweeten our cereals, we want to do it ourselves, using our own pure sugars (or artificial sweeteners). Often the sugars in fresh fruits is enough of a sweetener for most people.
Pasta and Noodles
Lots of Pasta for us. Probably our biggest weakness with foods is Pasta. While we are health conscious, and try to keep our consumption of breads and pastas down. We do realize that great fresh breads and good pasta dishes are fantastic to enjoy, but we do try not to eat them often.
Part of the health battle for us, mostly because we do love to eat, is that we try to keep an eye on; our portion size, the ingredients we use in preparation of our recipes, and the frequency that we enjoy all of the fantastic Pasta dishes that we do eat.
And, of course, when we purchase our Pasta, we go to the brands that are devoid of dangerous chemicals and are made from mostly whole wheat flours, etc.
The taste of these is slightly different from the bleached, fortified, white varieties, but the taste difference is always buried by the great flavor of our sauces.
The other difference is the color. These healthier, higher fiber Pastas are a little darker in color from the regular bleached white ones.
Flours for Baking
We do keep a variety of flours for out bread recipes, cakes and pies, when we make them. We will keep some Whole wheat flour, some Self-rising flour, and even some plain white flour.
Sad to say, some recipes really do perform best with the bleached flours on the market and the self-rising variety is called for in so many recipes, that often it is just easier to use it.
But, always check the labels to get brands that are processed the least and don’t have any chemical additives. It is amazing to me just how many companies will add unhealthy chemicals to our foods just for a bigger profit
Beans and Bean Soups are a favorite of side dish and Protein source of ours, and we try to keep some on hand, We have our favorites that we keep individual varieties and some mixed varieties that are good for Soups in our Pantry.
We frequent supermarkets and specifically Whole Foods stores looking for good, chemically safe Beans that we can keep a pound of two of, in our pantry. Beans make very healthy and tasty dishes, providing Protein, fiber and other nutrients, and when we make our favorite soups, stews and such.
When preparing our bean dishes, we always make enough that we will have at least enough for us to eat for one or two more days because they do store well in the fridge and invariably taste better when warmed up several times.
I believe the comment that I hear the most in a restaurant that serves bean dishes is; “These Beans are delicious, they must have been cooking them for days!”
We also use Dried Fruits, such as Raisins, Cranberries, Apples, Prunes and Dates.
There are many more dried fruits that you may end up using, but when we need one, other than these basic ones, we will purchase them at that time.
These, that I have listed, are the ones that we will use the most, in our favorite recipes, and especially in our Salads and our special snack Muffins.
They all add great flavors to our dishes, are relatively cheap compared to some of the others, and provide healthy nutrients to the consumer.
And, we often dry some of our own fruits in our oven. The process is simple and we get to salvage our leftover fruits for use later.
Seasonally, we will take the time to shop for our favorite Nuts to keep in our Pantry.
We always keep certain ones in our pantry such as; Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Edamama, and sometimes Peanuts for certain applications.
Other nuts, such as; Cashews, Pistachios, salted Peanuts, and so forth, while having healthy components of their own, are usually processed, packaged and sold as snack foods and are usually soaked, boiled and baked with large amounts of salt.
When I need some of one of these other nuts, I will end up at a health food store or a quality supermarket like Whole Foods again to purchase the basic nuts for use in my recipes.
Other Pantry Facts
There are always the “Other” food ingredients, and I 'm sure that you have some that you consider critical and always keep around.
But, again, this is a list of what my wife and I consider as our list of basic, perishable pantry items. I hope it will help you, in your evolution of your own pantry items.
DRY GOODS & INSECTS:
Just a note for those of you that do keep such dry goods in their pantry.
Please, repackage it, as soon as you can. We have learned over the years that one of the great way to keep some insects out of your house, is to keep foods such as these stored properly.
What we do, once we open a package, is place it into a re-sealable container, whether it is a seal-able plastic bag, or a lidded container.
The lidded containers particularly are very cheap today, and a little searching will often yield a nice re-useable container that is shaped perfectly for your opened dry goods.
From Flour, to Cereals, to Pasta, there is a perfect container out there.
And, when sealed properly, the insects cannot smell the foods, and thus will not be searching your kitchen/pantry for their next meal.
How to Dry fruits at Home
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