Essential ingredients vary from cook to cook, but we asked 10 food bloggers to share the one thing they always keep in their kitchen.
Too often, we all find ourselves at the supermarket or shopping for groceries online and staring down a long list of items to stock our pantries and refrigerators. These long lists are necessary at times, but they can also be needlessly complicated and—let’s face it—a little overwhelming.
If you’re feeling inspired to streamline your grocery shopping (especially as a result of quarantine-related crowds at the store), it might be helpful to know what single item a foodie expert insists on keeping in their kitchen when pressed to choose just one. We asked 10 food bloggers that very question. Here’s hoping it can help simplify your shopping trips—or at least inspire you in the kitchen!
“Would you be surprised that my answer is olive oil?” Lindsay Landis from (appropriately) Love & Olive Oil says. “A nice, basic extra virgin olive oil—no need for anything fancy!—is useful for everything from sauteing to salad dressings, even in baking.” Yes, baking. Landis recommends swapping out the butter in your go-to brownie recipe, for example, with olive oil. No wonder EVOO is at the top of her must-have list!
Canned Coconut Milk
Jessica in the Kitchen is much happier in the kitchen when she knows she has a few cans of coconut milk in the cabinet. She notes that you can’t even taste the coconut flavor in many of the dishes it’s used in, of which there are many. Jessica uses coconut milk in everything from curries and drinks to waffles and ice creams, as well as a replacement for heavy cream. Home chefs who are concerned with shelf life will be happy to know that canned coconut milk can last two to five years when properly stored. It can also be frozen for later use.
Ethically Sourced Organic Coconut Milk, $1.99 from Thrive Market
High-Quality Marinara Sauce
Lexi Davidson of Lexi’s Clean Living insists on stocking marinara sauce in her pantry at all times. Sure, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil!) is nice to have around, but a reliable stock of her favorite marinara—preferably Rao’s or Montebello—is just as key. “I love having these sauces on hand for quick dinners or to spruce up a dish when I don’t want to totally start from scratch,” Davidson says.
Rao's Homemade All Natural Marinara Sauce, $6.24 at Walmart
Related Reading: The Best Slow Cooker Sauces Money Can Buy
Amanda Batcher of The Chunky Chef barely hesitated before naming garlic as her must-have kitchen ingredient, primarily because she uses it in so many dishes and across so many different cuisines, including Mexican, Asian, and, of course, classic Italian. “There aren’t many dishes (aside from desserts) that can’t be elevated with a bit of garlic!” she says.
“As a low-carb blogger and somebody following a gluten-free and low-carb diet, I could not live without almond flour,” Sugar Free Londoner’s Katrin Nürnberger says. In addition to cakes and cookies, Nürnberger puts almond flour to work in low-carb bread, crackers, and “breading” for recipes like her Cauliflower Popcorn.
Almond Flour, $7.99 from Thrive Market
Jarred Roasted Red Peppers
Technically, Pinch of Yum’s Lindsay likes to keep a reliable inventory of a category of non-perishables she likes to call “Fun Extras” in her kitchen—this includes things like jarred olives, capers, pepperoncini, and pickled veggies—but when pressed to choose just one, she opts for jarred roasted red peppers. When in doubt, Lindsay adds them to any meal that’s feeling just a little “blah” for additional “punch, zip, and complexity of flavor.” As an added bonus, they can be served hot or cold.
Matiz Piquillo Peppers, $15.50 from Sur La Table
Related Reading: Gourmet Pantry Staples That Make Everything Taste Better
The Flavor Bender’s Dini Kodippili prefers not to be without eggs in her own kitchen. “Why? Because they are incredibly versatile!” she says. “Need a quick meal? Throw in whatever you have left over in the fridge with an egg and call it a frittata or a filled omelette. Serve a simple fried egg with soy sauce and rice for a delicious and simple lunch.” Eggs are also great to have around for desserts. And you can buy them from nearby farms to support local business!
Related Reading: The Best Egg Substitutes When You’re Out
According to Becky Hardin of The Cookie Rookie and Easy Chicken Recipes, you’ll never go wrong in the kitchen as long as you have a few jars of salsa lined up. On its own, salsa is a healthy snack that’s sure to be a hit with the whole family, and it can be a great substitute for diced tomatoes in soups and chilis if you want a little extra flavor.
Mild Tomato Salsa, $7.50 from Stonewall Kitchen
Lemon juice comes in handy for a wide variety of purposes, which is why (other than salt) it’s Wendi Spraker’s must-have ingredient. The Loaves and Dishes blogger uses it to keep fruit from turning brown, to make lemon sauce, to make salad dressing, to cut down on the amount of salt in other dishes, and to punch up the flavor in pretty much any recipe. Plus, Spraker uses remaining parts of a fresh lemon to freshen up the garbage disposal!
Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
“One ingredient I absolutely must have on hand at all times is non-fat plain Greek yogurt,” Well Plated by Erin’s Erin Clarke says. “It is one of my go-to ingredients for creating wholesome meals that don’t skimp on flavor. I buy the big tubs, which have a good shelf life in your refrigerator, though you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll go through it!” Clarke includes Greek yogurt in all kinds of recipes, from her Roasted Carrot Soup to her Sugar Cookie Protein Oatmeal.
Related Reading: Yogurt Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Header image courtesy of Burcu Atalay Tankut / Moment / Getty Images