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Chef Tim Says....



In Your Pantry: Cupboard Essentials

What should I have in my kitchen?

This is another in a series I have been writing about healthy choices for you to make at the grocery store. So far I have discussed different ideas for proteins like meat, poultry and fish and last week got to the pantry listing items you should keep on hand for baking. Last week covered fats.

This week is a very simple list of the items that you should begin stocking in your cupboard. This is by no means everything that you might have in your pantry but a starting place for those items that will let you always have something healthy in the house to start (or complete) a meal.

For the most part these are canned or bottled foods that will keep very well. You’ll always have a back up and can use any of them to make meals in a hurry. This week’s recipe has the option of using bottled roasted red peppers, for instance.

While this isn’t a complete list of items you might want in your pantry, it is a good starting place for you. Each time you go to the grocery, add two or three of these to your list and in a few months time you’ll have a well fitted pantry. For the canned goods I generally purchase the 15 ounce cans unless otherwise noted.

Canned tomatoes - I generally keep whole, peeled tomatoes on hand and have a couple of 28 ounce cans and a couple of 15 ounce cans.

Beans and Legumes - Canned no-salt-added beans are readily available in most groceries. There are some recipes that call for dried beans and I keep duplicates of those beans that I have in cans as well.

Canned:
Garbanzos (chick peas)
White beans (both cannelllini and great northern beans)
Red kidney beans
Black beans (I usually keep a few cans on hand)
Blackeye peas
Pinto beans

Dried:
Lentils (green, red and yellow)
Split peas
White beans (both cannelllini and great northern beans)
Red kidney beans
Black beans (I usually keep a few cans on hand)
Blackeye peas
Pinto beans
Light coconut milk
Roasted peppers - I always have a couple of jars of red peppers on hand and generally try to keep the yellow peppers as well.

Backup Jars

I try to keep backups of things. I have been lucky to have a large pantry so this might be more difficult for you, but keeping at least some of the basics on hand will help.

Reduced-fat mayonnaise
Mustard - Dijon and coarse ground
Tomato paste - I buy mine in the tube so I don’t waste any.
Anchovy paste
Wasabi paste
Capers
Pickle relish
No salt added catsup
Low-sodium soy sauce
Honey
Maple syrup
Your favorite barbecue sauce (look for those low in sugar and salt)

Stocks - If you are cooking for only two get the 15 ounce cans otherwise purchase the quart carton. Keep at least 2 or 3 cans or a carton of chicken stock on hand. I will keep a can of beef stock on hand as well.

Pasta - I tend to collect pastas and purchase a box almost every time I am at the grocery. I keep them sealed in plastic Tupperware type containers. I always have on hand:

Spaghetti
Penne
Ziti
Fettuccine
Linguine
Orzo
Riso

I also have a number of Japanese pastas on hand including udon, buckwheat udon and soba noodles.

Rice - I keep a LOT of different rices on hand.
Short grained sushi rice
Long grain jasmine rice
Medium grain brown rice
Short grained brown rice
Arborio rice (for making risotto)
Purple sticky rice
Basmati rice
Wild rice - I like to collect wild rices too because there are so many different varieties.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Dr. Gourmet
June 18, 2007