Whether you have a small pantry, big pantry, or no pantry at all (maybe you just have cupboards) there are certain products that you should always have on hand for a fully stocked, fully functional kitchen. Salt, pepper, garlic, and other basic herbs and spices are a given; no matter what level of cook you are, these are a must for your kitchen. What's sometimes forgotten are the other pantry staples that are helpful to have within reach. Because you never know when they’ll come in handy… and trust us, they always do.
1. Noodles and Sauce
Not just spaghetti and marinara. By switching up the noodles and the sauce, you could have a different type of cuisine every night, like Street Noodles with Sesame Sauce. Noodles can also be slurped in soups and whipped into picnic salads.
2. Canned Goods
Keep things like tomatoes and beans on hand, and dinner is just a matter of heating things up and shaking things in (namely olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and lemon). Or you could sneak in a quick snack with this recipe for Zesty Tomato Hummus made with RO*TEL®, lemon, and cumin.
Just like eggs, there’s no wrong way to cook potatoes. Use them to make a simple side or something a little fancier, like these Hasselback Potatoes with Salsa by Chef Billy Parisi. Plus, since potatoes last forever, you don’t have to worry about your spuds turning into duds!
From salads to chicken to desserts, nuts can lend crunch and flavor to anything. (Almonds, walnuts, and pecans are particularly utilitarian.) Nuts are also a filling snack, whether you eat them straight from the bag or dress them up with a glaze, like this spicy-sweet soy coconut mix.
5. Peanut Butter
We’re also not above eating it straight from the jar.
6. Cooking Spray
If it’s bound to stick, you gotta spray. A quick once-over when making recipes like these Fiesta Egg Bites helps prevent food from sticking and gives you back precious time you would’ve spent cleaning. Plus, there are sprays created for unique purposes, like baking and grilling.
7. Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is life. Perk up leftovers or a blah dish with just a few shakes. Add it to eggs, soup, or tacos, or use it to make your new favorite dinner: Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Wraps.
If you ask us, it’s the bee’s knees. Honey is a great alternative to other sweeteners and sugars and can be used for homemade marinades, poultry glazes, and salad dressings. It’s also great for baking, cough and sore throat relief, and drizzling over yogurts, fruits, and cheeses.
9. Hot Cocoa
Hot cocoa mix isn’t just for winter. While we love a steamy cup of cheer, like this Dark Chocolate Peppermint Spiked Hot Cocoa, you can also use hot cocoa mix to make desserts and snacks like Frozen Hot Chocolate, Hot Chocolate Monkey Bread and Hot Cocoa Popcorn Balls.
A must for movie night, obviously, but there are also lighter varieties you can turn to anytime you need a satisfyingly crunchy high-fiber snack. Popcorn also brings the party in these recipes for Valentine Popcorn Mix, game-day snack mix, Salted Caramel Popcorn Bars.