I’m finding myself in the kitchen more these days, and thus, grocery shopping more. I’m more of an “in-the-moment” cook so I don’t plan meals for the week or anything like that. However, I do have a general idea of the types of dishes I make so I can keep my pantry stocked with staples. Here are my must-haves for my pantry.
De Cecco pasta. I used to buy Barilla but apparently, De Cecco is more widely used in Italy and is superior in sauce-gripping abilities due to its rougher texture. It’s about $1 more expensive than Barilla, but honestly, it’s pretty worth it. I get the spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, and fusilli.
Garlic-infused olive oil. Some days, I can’t be bothered to peel and cut up garlic and then sauté them so this oil is a perfect compromise. It smells very strongly of garlic and has the amazing garlic taste also. I got mine from a small shop in Solvang for $20, so I was pretty happy to learn from my sister that Trader Joe’s is carrying it for about the same price.
First cold pressed olive oil. It’s a bit more expensive than the regular olive oil, but it’s so worth it. You can definitely taste more of the “olive” in it, so it’s good or bad depending on if you like olives. Life changing, if you ask me.
Jars of pasta sauce. As much as I like to pretend that I make all my pasta sauces from scratch, I really don’t. I always have Alfredo sauce, red sauce, and even cheese sauce in my pantry because I never know when my sisters will come over for pasta.
Parsley. Out of all the herbs I’ve tried, I find parsley to be the most versatile. I put it in my chicken marinade, pasta, on tartines, in salads, etc. I have both fresh and dry just in case I couldn’t make it to the store to get fresh ones.
European butter. I was at this fancy grocery store in my area and wandered to the butter section. Holy cow, so many options. I picked out a European style butter and omg it was the best butter ever. It’s creamier than American-style butter and works really well on my sugar butter toast or slathered on a piece of toasted bread. I’m officially obsessed.
Brie + mild blue cheese + butterkäse. I love me a good cheese platter so I always stock up on my favorite cheeses. Having these in my fridge all the time allows me to not stress out when I have spontaneous dinner plans at home.
Freshly grated parmesan. Many suggest parmigiano reggiano as the holy grail of parmesan, but it can be difficult to find sometimes and can be quite expensive. I picked up some sarvecchio parmesan and it was pretty good. I do have the “parmesan” powder from Kraft in my fridge, but it’s definitely a last resort when I run out of solid parmesan. It also adds to the food experience when I grate the parmesan right on top of my food. Try swapping out your “parmesan” powder for a solid slice of parmesan and it’ll definitely elevate your cooking.
Sourdough bread. This is my favorite type of bread in the whole wide world. I use it for sandwiches, tartines, and I cut it up into little triangles when I make cheese boards. I no longer plan on buying crackers because this tastes so much better. Ciabatta is good too, but I only get it when I can’t find sourdough.
La Marca Prosecco. At around $20 a bottle, this is my go-to when I make mimosas. I know it’s not champagne, but honestly, I can’t really justify opening an $80 bottle (Veuve Cliquot) every other day when I go into mimosa season aka summer.
Chicken thighs. Chicken breasts are overrated. The thighs are where it’s at because it’s less expensive and way less dry and rubbery than the breasts. When I get them from the store, I portion them out into 1 ziplock bag per lb then marinate some bags with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and parsley. I use the marinated chicken in pastas or I bake them. The ones that I don’t marinate end up in soups and other dishes that don’t do well with lemon.
Furikake seasoning. This mix is a combination of seaweed, dried fish, sesame seeds, and other good stuff. You can put this on top of warm rice and eat it like that or you can add it to whatever type of fried rice you are making. I love this as a topping on my kimchi fried rice.
Below is a list of the other items I make sure I always have in my pantry.