As any good southern woman will tell you anytime the weather looks frightening; (i.e.: snow is even mentioned as a slight possibility in the forecast) you go directly to the store and buy bread and milk. All my life this has been drilled into me. I have utterly no idea what the reason for bread and milk is; I guess you won’t starve to death in the event of the snow lasting any longer than 12 hours if you have a loaf of bread and gallon of milk. In my whole life I can likely count on one hand the amount of times that snow has not melted by noon the day after a snow. I can only remember once that I have seen more than a couple of inches. Don’t get me wrong I love snow, I love everything about it, and the way it falls and makes everything quiet and new again is just wonderful. Let me assure you though southern snow is very different than other parts of our country. Southern people just freak out!
The companion to this is the fact that I grew up with a list of things that must always, ALWAYS be kept in your pantry at all times. Pantry staples likely vary from region to region. I seriously doubt that many people outside of my area of the country always have a can of SPAM in their pantry, but eh it works for southern people. I will not be including SPAM on my personal list of pantry staples; instead I will try to make a list of staples that all people should have and I welcome suggestions from other parts of the country and the world! I have noticed I have readers in other parts of the world, so by all means feel free to comment on what you keep in your larders and cupboards all the time. There are just a few common things I don’t think anyone should ever be caught without!
- Olive Oil: Extra Virgin is my preference but some people like the “fully leaded” versions of this versatile oil.
- Broths: Chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth. Easy to make soups from or just heat and sip. I love chicken broth when I have a bad cold or flu!
- Pasta: Personally I have at least three boxes of Barilla pasta in my pantry at all times. So many things you can do with pasta, even if nothing more than a bit of salt and pepper and a pat of butter or drizzle of that olive oil.
- Fresh Garlic: One of the best spices to have on hand at all times. You can chop it, slice it, roast it, smash it, grate it, or use whole cloves. Of course you will not be popular with your friends or spouse, but you will sleep well at night!
- Jarred Pasta Sauces: This of course plays right into having pasta in your cupboard at all times. I keep at least Barilla’s Tomato and Basil sauce in my pantry for those nights I don’t feel like cooking. Warm sauce, toss in pasta, and sprinkle with cheese… voila! Easy meal.
- Rice: Like pasta this is so versatile and easy to handle. Mix with broth or soup to give some more weight to the meal. Mix with beans and wrap with a tortilla and some cheese and you have a quick meal. Always good to have in your pantry.
- Dijon Mustard: Maybe odd to you for me to mention something like Dijon mustard but again lots can be done with this particular condiment.
- Honey: Mix with the above and you have a dipping sauce, dressing, or even a marinade for meats. Honey also makes a wonderful mask for your skin… but that’s another topic all together. Local honey is best as it will help you build up antihistamines to local pollens. Check your farmer’s markets!
- Milk: Come on, you knew this was coming! Cereal and milk is absolutely one of my favorite meals. I think it is because I am just a big kid at heart!
- Baby Spinach (Fresh or Frozen): Make salads, steam and eat… it is just good for you!
- Peas: I keep a variety of “peas” on hand at all times. Black-eyed peas being some of my favorite. I love Crowder Peas, green peas, and Butter Beans though I think they qualify more in the bean department.
- Canned Beans/Dry Beans: Black beans, white beans, navy beans, red beans… need I say more?
- Canned Tuna: Canned meats are usually not something I recommend to anyone. However Tuna is rare in that it fairs well in a can (or packet) please for you own good buy it in fresh spring water! (And look for dolphin friendly tuna only!)
- Canned Tomatoes: What can’t you do with canned tomatoes?
- Peanut Butter: At the very least when that snow threat is imminent you can have peanut butter sandwiches! I can use peanut butter as a flavoring in dishes as well.
- Salsa: Always an interesting and quick topping for chicken. Naturally goes well with chips.
- Potatoes: Does this need explaining?
- Corn Meal: Corn bread, breading, corn cereal….
- Sugar/Brown Sugar: You just never know when you will need to sweeten something. Or make a nice body scrub.
- Eggs: Not difficult to figure out. Full of protein and vitamins, easy to scramble or to hard boil.
- Bread: Okay, I give in; I have to have bread in my pantry. I serve some type of bread at every meal. You can do a lot with bread; I love French toast.
- Spices: Anyone with a great pantry has more than just salt and pepper in the spice cabinet. Now we will all differ on our opinions as to what belongs in the spice cabinet. My personal favorites are Basil, Rosemary, Cilantro, Tarragon, Garlic Powder, Chinese Five Spice, Paprika, Curry, and Nutmeg.
- Cheeses: I always have at least cheddar on hand. Typically I have more than that, including goat cheese, Italian cheese blends, Brie, and Provolone.
This is just my list of must haves. What is on your list? Do you feel I missed something vital? Let me know your thoughts!