When I use the word "staples," I use them somewhat loosely in that we do not always have these items at home. However, these are the first to go on the shopping list! Oh, and our "pantry" is a loose term too. How I long for the Pinterest Perfect pretty pantry... (Say that 10 times fast!)
1) Black Beans. Frijoles negros - a must have in our casa. Whether it is with chicken and rice, on its own, blended for a dip, black beans are a staple go-to food for this mama. Added bonus? Li'l G loves them and with all that extra fiber, well, it keeps us regular. Too much? Sorry.
2) Canned diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning. Oh, my go to for everything! Making my own pasta sauce, chicken, pork, black beans, soup...I can count on this flavorful friend to get me started!
3) Montreal Steak Seasoning. Mmmm, mmmm, good. Why do I still have it in spades in my spice cupboard when we gave up red meat you ask? Because it's not just for steak, my friends. Spice up some smashed potatoes, y'all! Complements baked chicken as well as seasons turkey burgers. We love the flavor, so why limit it to steak? Definitely one that is missed when it runs out.
4) Cumin. Perhaps it is the Indian tastebuds, but I love some cumin. Especially with black beans (see #1). Just a touch adds an earthy flavor that works with foods of the subcontinent in whatever Americanized hybrid it appears from our kitchen. Besides being a staple of our "Indian" kitchen, it's got some bonus health benefits too, if you believe what you read! Here's a tip: though you can buy it ground, find a local Indian grocer and get it whole. Toast it in a pan, grind yourself, and you'll quadruple the flavor and aroma!
5) Shake 'n' Bake / Panko / Bread Crumbs. Any or all in that combo are definitely a keeper for our small kitchen. I'd forgotten how much so until I finally re-stocked our Shake 'n' Bake the other day. Perfect for a quick dinner and oh so tasty. Yes, I know I can make my own bread crumbs, but I'm just not the domestic goddess I had envisioned becoming as a wife and mother. I need to have something to aspire to, I suppose. Besides, who can forget those commercials from our childhood? "It's Shake 'n' Bake, and I helped!"
6) Stove Top. It's not just for Thanksgiving, folks! Quick, easy, versatile for so many meals, it's a nice alternative to rice and pasta which get boring after a while. Added bonus? I'm not a huge fan of croutons, but sprinkle a little Stove Top on a salad, and you've got just the right added texture for me.
7) BBQ Sauce. Grilling weather or not, this is definitely something to keep in stock. It makes a great "dip dip" for Li'l G (though messy), and in a pinch, nothing like a little chicken or pork in the slow cooker ready to shred and smother when it's dinner time!
8) Canned cut green beans. Yes, I know. Fresh should be better, and I do love a good pot of fresh picked green beans cooked to perfection. You know what is a close second in my book? Yes - canned (definitely NOT frozen). I don't know if it is a nostalgic preference, but I love a can of green beans - plain, buttered, with ranch, whatever. Li'l G has picked up her mama's habits too, and it is an easy go-to vegetable for her if nothing else is working...or I'm lazy. You decide which usually happens.
9) Honey. It's expensive, but I try to keep this in stock as much as I can. Used in tea or hot water with lemon/lime, on ice cream with a little cinnamon, or as a glaze with some lime for chicken, it is scrumdeliumptious! Plus, talk about health benefits (vs. sugar especially!).
10) Golden potatoes. We love some smashed potatoes, and while any potato will work, this golden variety provides a buttery texture and the skin smashes up a little more nicely. Plus, they are usually a little smaller in size so they cook through faster. Yes, it sometimes does become about speed and convenience when you're cooking in a hurry.
* Cilantro. Ok, technically that stays in the refrigerator and not the pantry, which is why it didn't make my top ten list, but it is a staple in our home and kitchen. You can chalk it up to the Indian genes.