Every pantry needs an arsenal of cookbooks. Personally, I enjoy collecting cookbooks, and I love reading the stories imbedded between the recipe pages and looking at the pictures. Usually I have a couple staple recipes I follow step by step in each cookbook, but more often I use the recipe for inspiration to put my own spin on the dish. Whether you religiously follow a recipe or you like to improvise, having a variety of staple ingredients on hand will make your cooking and baking experiences feel effortless.
I have compiled a list of ingredients that, I believe, are important when cooking and baking fresh from scratch.
Flours & Grains
I only purchase whole grains, with two exceptions - unbleached all-purpose flour and cake flour. I reserve these for baking cakes and cupcakes. In all honesty, I prefer the texture and flavour of whole grains in comparison to their less nutritious counterparts. Incorporating whole grains into your diet is a simple modification that can enhance anyone's diet. I recommend giving them a try if you haven't already! Here are a few of my favourites...
All Purpose Flour / Cake Flour | Whole Grain Rye Flour | Whole Grain Wheat Flour | Corn Starch
Barley | Couscous | Oats | Granola | Whole Grain Crackers | Whole Grain Pastas | Wild Rice | Quinoa
Legumes, Nuts & Seeds
The super food trio - legumes, nuts and seeds. The perfect blend of fibre, protein and fat, which should be a staple in the pantry and on the table. Here are my favourites to keep around...
Aduki Beans | Black Beans | Black-Eyed Peas | Chickpeas | Green Lentils | Green Split Peas | Red Lentils | Yellow Split Peas
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds | Cashews | Chia Seeds | Flax Seeds (Whole & Ground) | Hazelnuts | Hemp Seeds | Peanuts | Poppy Seeds | Sunflower Seeds | Tahini Paste (sesame seeds) | Walnuts
Oils, Sauces & Vinegars
This is an important section of the pantry as these ingredients help create wonderful flavour bases for our dishes. I always keep the following stocked in my pantry...
Fats & Oils
Butter, Unsalted | Coconut Oil | Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil | Flax Seed Oil | Sesame Seed Oil | Vegetable Oil | Walnut Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar | Balsamic Vinegar | Rice Vinegar
Fish Sauce | Soy Sauce | Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce | Tamarinde Paste
If you are interested in cooking and baking from scratch then you will need a large spice pantry. That being said, spices are expensive and if you do not have all the spices on this list or a specific spice that a recipe is calling for don't worry! The great thing about cooking and baking from scratch is that you can make your own flavour base and easily switch out ingredients for others you have on hand. My advice, is to build your spice pantry slowly to avoid breaking the bank! Here is a list of spices that I use on a regular basis...
Basil | Bay leaves | Cajun Spice | Chives | Cinnamon | Crushed Chiles | Cumin | Curry Powder | Garlic Powder | Ginger | Marjoram | Mint | Mustard Seed | Nutmeg | Onion Powder | Oregano | Paprika | Pepper | Rosemary | Sage | Salt (Sea & Table) | Thyme | Turmeric
It is always necessary to have sweets or ingredients that may be converted into sweets on-hand. You never know when you may get a craving!
Cocoa Powder | Dark Chocolate Chips | Dried Fruit | Condensed Milk | Fruit ( fresh or frozen) | Honey | Molasses | Sugar (Brown, Icing & White) | Shredded Coconut
A few extra ingredients that I think need mentioning. These are ingredients that may not be used everyday but are great additions for the pantry.
Active Dry Yeast - Used for baking bread, pita or buns.
Baking Powder & Baking Soda - Used in baking as leavening agents.
Nutritional Yeast - Used in dressings, soups, salads and vegetarian/vegan entrees.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) - Used in vegetarian/vegan entrees to give dishes more texture.