Pantry must-haves are essential for every kitchen because it pretty much cuts down the number of ingredients you need to buy for your weekly meal prep and, that in turn, cuts how much you spend on meal prep because these items are always available when you need it.
Based on your meal prep, your pantry must-haves might differ from mine and that’s okay – as long as you have the essentials that you need as a base for almost any recipe.
For me, starch is essential for any almost meal and my go-to choices are rice, penne pasta and couscous. I usually opt for Tastic’s Long Grain Parboiled Rice, Toscana Penne Rigate and Monteverde: The Italian Couscous.
I am very brand loyal so once I find a brand that works for me I am likely to buy it religiously.
What are your staples that you just can’t go without?
Use canned whenever you can
I 100% support the use of any product you can find canned if it can make cooking easier, simpler and quicker. My go-to canned items are usually KOO Four Bean Mix, KOO Samp and Beans, Rhodes’ range of canned tomato mixes and Miami Tomato and Green Pepper Relish for soups and curries, respectively.
Tomato paste, coconut milk or curry paste
Tomato paste, coconut milk and/or curry paste are key ingredients in any of my curries. Coconut milk is, obviously, there for the creamy texture; tomato paste helps make your curry saucy and thick; whilst curry paste is basically an all-in-one paste that contains all the spices, oils and fresh ingredients you need for your curry.
For me, it’s important to have your various spices plus your go-to masala. My favourite spice brand is Robertsons. My mother used it throughout my childhood so it was practically just natural for me to use it as well. I don’t have any particular spice blends that I use for particular dishes. I’m the person who just adds whichever spices I feel like adding and I’ll see how it turns out – and that’s why I can rarely make the same dish twice because each dish always tastes different.
I’m actually quite cheap when it comes to buying spices because I often opt to buy the loose sachets, whereas buying a box would probably work out much cheaper. I’d definitely recommend buying the box instead of sachets.
My masala tends to last quite a long time. I don’t have a particular brand I buy so here you can buy whichever masala works for you. I’d love to hear what your spice recommendations are? What are you go-to’s?
Chillies, garlic and ginger
The base for any meal, for me, has to include chillies, garlic and/or ginger. I am completely lost without these.
I hate adding potatoes to my curries and stews. If I do cook anything using potatoes, I’ll only ever make fries or jacket/baked potatoes. However, interestingly, my uncle taught me that you can actually use potatoes to thicken your curries. So, all you need to do boil your potato to mash potato status, mash it up and add it to your curry or stew and voila, it’s thick! This was added as a sneaky addition because I actually don’t have this in my pantry all the time but only when I know I’m absolutely going to need it.
I can’t cook without onions so if my husband or life-partner doesn’t eat onions, he’s probably going to go hungry 😂. Just like potatoes, I don’t always have these in my pantry even though I probably should. I also tend to buy loose onions, while I should probably be buying a pack of 4-5 to save some cash.
Because, obviously 🤷! Those who prefer healthier cooking would probably opt for olive oil or butter.
What alternatives to oil do you tend to use?
I rarely add enough salt to my food because I tend to have quite a heavy hand when I do so I usually add chicken or beef stock, depending on type of meat I’m cooking.
It not only enhances the flavour of the dish but adds sufficient saltiness to it as well.
What are some of your pantry must-haves? What should I trash? What should I add? Let me know!