Cooking for Beginners: Pantry

Cooking is intimidating. Especially for those that haven't had much experience, exposure, and call themselves "beginners." Just like any other task, having the right tools to start will help you immensely into creating something great. And that starts with your pantry.

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What you have in your pantry and kitchen is essential to getting a good base for any dish you create. You don't need high end ingredients, or that perfect box of produce (although it helps), to create something delicious. A base group of items to allow you to be flexible and adaptable is just as important as that perfect tomato. Below are categories and pantry lists that everyone should have, from beginners to Micheline starred chefs, in their pantry:

Oils / Fats / Acids - Vital to the base of most dishes. Oils, Fats and Acids help aid in the cooking and flavor process. It's good to have a variety on hand, allowing you to be flexible and adaptable in the cooking process. They typically last 6-12 months if stored properly (aka in the cupboard, not next to the stove).

• Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Very versatile; cooking oil, salad dressing, flavor.

• Canola Oil / Vegetable Oil - Neutral flavor, great for cooking, baking.

• Butter - Do not shy away! Store it in the freezer.

• Vinegars - Red Wine / White wine / Balsamic / Rice Wine / Apple Cider - Its good to have more than one type on hand. Great for dressings, marinades, sauces and lots more.

Dry Ingredients - Basic items, typically they have a longer shelf life.

• SALT - Kosher salt. Get a big box. This won't go bad. *Maldon salt

• Pepper - Black pepper,

• Sugar - Good to have two kinds, Granulated & Brown are staples in my pantry.

• Flour - All Purpose Flour is just that. It can be used in so many applications.

• Baking Soda - An essential for baking. Also, makes a great face wash!

• Baking Powder - Another baking essential. A can can last you a year +.

• Bakers Chocolate / Chocolate Chips - Great to have for baking, or just eating!

• Rice - A great side dish, can also be a base for a meal! Healthy, lasts a long time.

• Pasta - This can be an inspiration for an entire meal. Typically cooks in under 8 minutes.

Perishables - Most of these last longer than you expect. And cheap enough to invest in a few so you always have on hand!

• Dijon Mustard - Not just for sandwiches. Useful in salad dressings, marinades and even sauce bases.

• Chicken stock / Bouillon cubes - I like to have some of the dry cubes on hand to quickly make a braising liquid, or add some flavor to pasta, rice, and cous cous.

• Canned Tomatoes - A great way to bulk up and add lots of flavor to any type of stew, braise, pasta, or even stir-fry.

• Garlic - A whole bulb can last for 2-3 weeks on your counter. Or, you can buy a jar of crushed garlic and keep it in your fridge for a lot longer!

• Onions - Essential to most savory dishes. A standard yellow/brown onion can last for almost 2 weeks in your pantry!

These simple and staple items will help any cook of any level create a dish that is delicious. Most basic recipes will require some of these ingredients! For more on beginners cooking, you can listen to our Podcast below! 

About the Author

After six years in the kitchen and many extraordinary events, Kellan has become more than a chef, he’s cooking up experiences. From small intimate dinner parties, cooking lessons, and family meals to large corporate bar-b-ques, beer dinners, and holiday soirées, the Kitchen has it covered. Kellan and crew are not just cooks and servers, they’re hosts, cocktail gurus, and burgeoning sommeliers. With a focus always on the food, Kellan’s Kitchen also pays great attention to hosting, vibe, comfort and the vision of the host. Everyone must walk out with a smile, full belly, and sometimes a nice buzz.