Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kitchen Starters

Many times, people ask me how to get started cooking.  They are generally moving into an apartment for the first time, or are just making the (very healthy) shift away from only eating frozen dinners.  I have decided to compile my own list of (non-perishable) ingredients that I always keep in stock around my kitchen, and that I think everyone else should keep in theirs.

General Items
Oils - extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil
Condiments - soy sauce (low sodium), ketchup, mustard, balsamic vinegar

Herbs and Spices
Seasonings - Morton's table salt, black pepper
Herbs - oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley (all dried), bay leaves
Spices - garlic powder, ground cinnamon, mustard powder, smoked paprika

Baking and Dry Goods
Sugars - granulated sugar, brown sugar, (powdered sugar if you intend to bake a lot)
Other Sweets - honey, maple syrup, almonds or mixed nuts
Baking - whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, almond extract
Other - pasta, rice, stock cubes: vegetable, chicken, and beef

Freezer Items
Vegetables - broccoli, green beans, peas, sweet corn
Other - fruit (see previous post), shrimp

This list is just an outline of the kind of things you may want to stock up on when you start to cook more seriously.  Generally, buy what you can (not all at once), and discover what ingredients are used in the recipes you like best.  Most of these items will sit happily in your pantry or freezer for months, and having them nearby will help you get a bit more creative in the kitchen.

Let me know (comment below) if you think I missed something vital. =)


  1. This is a great topic for a food post! I've been reading your blog daily. I like that you post your updates to Facebook, it serves as a reminder for me!

    Some things that I use almost every time I cook that I didn't see on your list:
    Onion Powder
    Garlic Powder
    Bay Leaf

    Also, I am a Chocolate Addict so I always have two 12 oz. bags of chocolate chips in the pantry.

  2. We always have red pepper flakes around. One of my favorite seasonings (and my mom's secrete salmon weapon) is Chef Paul's Magic Salmon Seasoning. http://www.amazon.com/Prudhommes-Magic-Seasoning-Blends-24-Ounce/dp/B0000CDBRN

    All you need to do is spray pam and sprinkle the salmon. Very quick and an awesome blend of seasonings.

  3. I have never in my life used mustard powder.
    I do, however, use nutmeg, chili powder, and cumin.

    And you can't go wrong having a couple of cans of beans around - quicker than dry and they're an easy way to add substance to nearly any meal.