Here's the ten things you for sure need in your pantry - from salt to toothpicks to everything in between.
1. Salt and pepper: This should be a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget when you move somewhere, and even easier when you’re running out. How often do you run out of salt? Trust me, a meal is nothing if it’s not properly seasoned.
2. Bay leaves: Although it’s probably debatable how much flavor bay leaves add to stews, soups and sauces, there’s a pretty good chance they’re required in a recipe you’ll use over the course of a year.
3. Toothpicks: Toothpicks aren’t just for club sandwiches at the average deli. How do you cover a homemade cake without losing icing? Insert toothpicks and cover with foil.
4. Baking soda: A box of baking soda costs less than $1. Change that every month and you’re spending less than $24 a year to keep your refrigerator fresh. I always keep about three at one time in my pantry. Baking soda and cornstarch aren’t interchangeable, by the way. (I tried this once.)
5. Chicken broth: I use chicken broth to deglaze a pan, to make an easy soup, and to thin (or make more of) a sauce.
6. Rice: Whatever your preference is -- long-grain, brown or jasmine -- it’s good to keep in your pantry. When I’m living with roommates, we’ll split a bigger bag because it’ll last longer and is cheaper.
7. Pasta: Drizzled with some olive oil and salt pepper, pasta is an even cheaper and equally satisfying dinner that comes strictly from items in your pantry. Pick your favorite or a variety and stock up.
8. Canned tomatoes: Want a little sauce with that pasta? I buy San Marzano canned tomatoes and use it to make sauce. It only needs salt and pepper.
9. Mustard: Mustard can be used to thicken sauces, to coat chicken before it’s dusted with flour and to make vinaigrettes. Dijon is best for all of the above.
10. Flour: Breaded chicken, homemade cake, a roux. Need I say more?