25 Ingredients to Always Have on Hand

I like to use seasonal ingredients in my cooking, but there are essentials that I always keep in my kitchen. These are the ingredients that enhance dishes, serve as emergency meals and snacks, and are just all around super useful.

  1. Lemons: A squeeze a lemon adds needed acidity to almost every dish, both savory and sweet. It helps berries pop in a pie and completes a pasta primavera. Or, add a bit to some water in the morning to start the day off right.
  2. Good quality olive oil: The flavor difference between cheap and good quality olive oil is enough to make or break a dish, so olive oil is definitely worth the splurge. Use it for homemade salad dressings, to coat roasted vegetables, or simply drizzled over a dish to some healthy fats.
  3. Vegetable broth: A bit of broth is used in a ton of recipes, and not just soups and stews. Using it to cook grains adds a depth of flavor or in a sauce helps to create a good consistency. Plus, it’s nice having it around to use a base for soup if you have vegetables that need to be used up.
  4. Dry grains: Pasta, rice, barley, farro, quinoa, or whatever your favorites are should always be kept in the pantry. You never know when you’ll need an easy side or a way to bulk up a meal or even a backup for a recipe gone wrong.
  5. Frozen fruit: Sometimes my mornings are crazy busy, so I like to have frozen fruit on hand that’s ready for a quick smoothie. Also a great snack or last minute dessert.
  6. Rolled oats: An easy breakfast or as a healthy way to bulk up lentil loaves or bean burgers.
  7. Garlic: I’ve forgotten to stock up on pantry ingredients, but garlic is always in my kitchen. It’s the easiest way to take a dish from boring to delicious, especially if I only have a few other ingredients to work with.
  8. Onions: Like garlic, a chopped onion in a pan makes your kitchen smell delicious and makes any savory dish more flavorful.
  9. Nuts and seeds: Grab them for a snack, throw them in a salad, use them to create crunch in a dish, or grind them up for nut butters and milk, nuts and seeds are always a good idea to have on hand.
  10. Fresh parsley and basil: Most herbs taste better fresh, but if I had to choose just two to always have on hand, it would be parsley and basil. These both work in so many different dishes, that I don’t have to worry about not using them all up. Great is salads, over pasta, mixed into vegetables, or as the secret ingredient in burgers.
  11. Vinegar: The type of vinegars will depend on what dishes you make often, vinegars include balsamic, apple cider, rice, red wine, white, etc. Like lemon juice, they elevate a dish to the next level and are all around useful.
  12. Maple syrup (the real stuff!): Real maple syrup tastes so much better than the corn syrup stuff, plus it’s healthier. I use it as a natural way to sweeten a baked good or sauce, but it’s also great to have around for waffles and pancakes.
  13. Canned beans: I don’t always have time to make beans from scratch, so canned beans are essential. Use them as a base for a dip or mix into a dish for extra protein.
  14. Wine: Even if you don’t drink it, a splash of wine to a recipe like risotto or pasta sauce makes all the difference. The alcohol cooks off and the flavor is enhanced.
  15. Flour: I like whole wheat pastry flour as my “all purpose” flour because it works for most of my recipes, but you should always have your favorite flours on hand.
  16. Worcestershire Sauce: The regular kind has anchovies, but they do have a vegan version in health food stores. This stuff is the secret ingredient in soups, stews, bean burgers, lentil loaves, and sauces.
  17. Dijon mustard: A good quality Dijon mustard is the essential ingredient in my salad dressings, but it’s also great to throw into a dish for an interesting pop of flavor.
  18. Chia seeds: Chia seeds are awesome. Use them to make pudding, overnight oats, vegan eggs, or as a healthy thickener.
  19. Frozen bread: Bread freezes and thaws really well, so having some in the freezer ensures that you always have bread on hand.
  20. Hot sauce: Sometimes a dish just needs a kick that only hot sauce can give.
  21. Canned tomatoes: Always having tomatoes on hand means always being able to make tomato sauce, salsa, soups, and stews. Super useful.
  22. Soy sauce: Soy sauce is another ingredient that can boost a drab dish, but it’s also nice to add to rice or kept around for sushi night.
  23. Baking powder and soda: Have baking powder and baking soda around for those days you just need cookies or pancakes.
  24. Coconut oil: Coconut oil is not only awesome for sauteing or roasting, it’s a really great substitute for butter because it can act as a solid fat in pastry recipes.
  25. Sea salt and peppercorns: The obvious but most essential ingredients for your kitchen are salt and pepper. But specifically sea salt and peppercorns because sea salt has a more pleasant salty flavor and freshly ground pepper is the bees knees.

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