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20 Ingredients (With a Long Shelf Life!) You Should Always Have On Hand

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Although we love grocery shopping (we think it's part of the fun of our cooking classes), we also love having a stocked pantry. With a simple trip to the closet, a well stocked pantry can open up a world of so much flavor - without having to leave the house.


Here are 20 ingredients with a long shelf life to make life a little easier. Consider these items "must have" in your pantry so you always have meal inspiration in front of you. This ingredient list was curated with a global cuisine lover in mind, specifically meant to allow you to easily shift between world flavors. Whether you're in the mood for Thai, South American or Italian these ingredients will help you easily whip up a restaurant-worthy meal.


RICE

Probably the most versatile item on this list. Rice is widely used all over the world and although there are thousands of rice varieties, have at least four varieties in your pantry. For diversity, we recommend always having Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio, and Wild or Brown Rice on hand. Each variety of rice has a different starch content and has their own culinary purpose. Keeping these four varieties of rice in your pantry will give you lots of flexibility to easily make side dishes, soups, curries or last-minute risotto.


DRIED PASTA

When you think of dried pasta, don't limit yourself to spaghetti. We recommend having at least 5 varieties of pasta in your pantry. Penne pasta is a good everyday go to and works best with tomato based sauces and dairy sauces. Spaghetti is versatile and works well for seafood dishes or pestos. Keep a large shell or lasagne shape in the pantry so you can easily make a stuffed or baked pasta. Orecchiette works best for chunkier or creamy sauces. And last, don't forget rice noodles. Rice noodles are gluten free and essential for pad thai, Vietnamese bun cha, or other Asian inspired meals.


CANNED BEANS

This pantry peasant is incredibly underrated. Beans are a foundational ingredient in many cuisines around the world. While dried beans are the tastiest, to keep things convenient, we recommend having several varieties of canned beans on hand. At minimum, have black beans, pinto beans, and cannellini beans in the pantry. One more to add to the list... chickpeas. While they technically aren't a bean, we'll put them in the same category. With a variety of canned beans, you can add protein to soups and salads, easily make refried beans, two bean chili, hummus, or simmer white beans with some rosemary and garlic for a simple and elegant side dish.

The XO Bakers Decorating Tool Kit gives you control others don't

TINNED TUNA OR SALMON

Tinned seafood doesn't have the reputation in North America as it does in other countries. In places like Spain, tinned seafood is a daily staple. Canned tuna and salmon are fabulous proteins that should be in your pantry at all times. But don't just think of sandwiches, in a casserole or as a topping on a salad... Tinned tuna or salmon rolled in rice makes for an impromptu Japanese inspired sushi, stuffed in tomatoes and you've headed to in the direction of Spanish tapa.


FROZEN SHRIMP

Quickly thawed in a pinch, frozen shrimp are a great protein to have on hand. Whether you're in the mood for a spicy creole inspired meal, seafood pasta, or are looking for inspiration for dumplings - frozen shrimp are versatile and fast for a quick but healthy meal.


FROZEN FISH FILLETS

We suggest unbreaded fish fillets so that you have the choice to poach, pan sear, bake, grill, fry or even coat them yourself. From a quick salmon dinner to flaking up fish and adding to a rice bowl, fish will provide healthy protein quickly.


CHICKEN STOCK

Two words : Flavour booster. Chicken stock is an essential ingredient in the pantry. We like making a large pot of chicken stock and freezing the stock into smaller containers or ice cube trays. Use the stock to make a quick weeknight soup, whip up a risotto, or simply add more flavor to sautéed veggies.

EGGS

While eggs don't have an indefinite shelf life like most other ingredients on our list, we consider eggs an essential to always have in the fridge. Eggs are so much more than just breakfast food. Crack one on top of seasoned rice for a hearty meatless main, hard-boil them for a protein-packed salad, devil them to make for an elegant starter, use them to make a quick cake, whip up fresh pasta or easy Huevos Rancheros.


The XO Bakers Decorating Tool Kit gives you control others don't

FROZEN VEGETABLES

Get your veggies in without worrying about them going bad. We find frozen broccoli, green beans and cauliflower to be versatile among a variety of cuisines, and all hold their texture. With a variety of frozen vegetables on hand, you can easily make stir-fries, pastas, curries, and side dishes.


FROZEN BREAD

Whatever you find yourself using more frequently, maybe it’s a baguette or pitas, keep some in your freezer to stay fresh and quickly thawed as you need it. If you buy whole loaves, a great tip is to cut it before you freeze it so you can grab and thaw pieces as you need them.

SOY SAUCE

One of the most versatile ingredients on this list is soy sauce. Soy sauce can be used to add umami to many dishes like marinades, soups, salad dressings and dips.


PEANUT BUTTER

From PB&J sandwiches to savoury Asian sauces found in our Thai or Vietnamese cooking classes, your pantry should always include peanut butter.


CANNED TOMATOES

From pasta sauce to Shakshuka, canned tomatoes are an absolute must to always have in the pantry. While we suggest keeping crushed, whole and diced on hand, we do prefer whole canned tomatoes so you can easily turn them into whatever you might need in a pinch!

ROASTED PEPPERS

Roasted peppers give a new flavor dimension in many meals. Whether roasted red peppers or chipotles in adobe - add them into pasta sauce, slice for salads, use them as a pizza topping, make quick salsa or add to sandwiches. We especially like to pureé them into dips.


NUTS

Nuts are healthy for snacking, add crunch to rice and pasta, and are great to add to oatmeal or yogurt. Almonds and walnuts are always in our pantry. Tip - keep them fresh by storing them in the freezer.

The XO Bakers Decorating Tool Kit gives you control others don't

GARLIC

If you’re a garlic lover like we are then this one is already always in your kitchen, but for those who don’t use fresh garlic often, now is your time to start doing so. Fresh garlic keeps for a long time in a dark cupboard and has a more pleasing flavor than the pre-minced garlic that comes in a jar. From whipping up a fast pasta to making a Thai curry, garlic is a foundational flavor in most all cuisines around the world.



LEMON JUICE

Citrus is a fabulous addition to so many dishes and keeping lemon juice on hand will not only brighten up your kitchen but also your meals. High quality lemon juice (for example, imported from Italy) stores well and the flavor is just as good as any fresh lemon. Lemons are also the star of Chef Asli's three ingredient Turkish Magic Sauce that you can make in batches and keep in the fridge.

CURED SAUSAGE

For nights when you might just want a simple meat and cheese plate for dinner. Cured sausage also opens up a world of sausage and beans, jambalaya, or stews like Hungarian Sausage & Potato Paprika.

The XO Bakers Decorating Tool Kit gives you control others don't

DRIED SPICES & HERBS

Any pantry needs a collection of dried spices and herbs. While we could steer you towards the direction of a simple collection - herbs and spices are critical in a world pantry. In order to build your spice and herb collection, start with the basics - dried oregano, thyme, chili flakes, garlic powder and onion powder should be in everyone's cabinet. From there, adding popular spices like cinnamon, cumin, paprika, bay leaves, rosemary, coriander powder, and turmeric make a good start. After that, sky is the limit. Buy small amounts of spices so they stay fresh in your pantry. We encourage you to add sumac, yellow curry powder, smoked paprika, fenugreek, tarragon and mustard powders to open a wide range of cuisines.


WINE

Wine is great to have on hand to not only use in cooking but also to have a well deserved glass after a long day.

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20 Ingredients (With a Long Shelf Life!) You Should Always Have On Hand

Updated: Sep 15, 2023


Although we love grocery shopping (we think it's part of the fun of our cooking classes), we also love having a stocked pantry. With a simple trip to the closet, a well stocked pantry can open up a world of so much flavor - without having to leave the house.


Here are 20 ingredients with a long shelf life to make life a little easier. Consider these items "must have" in your pantry so you always have meal inspiration in front of you. This ingredient list was curated with a global cuisine lover in mind, specifically meant to allow you to easily shift between world flavors. Whether you're in the mood for Thai, South American or Italian these ingredients will help you easily whip up a restaurant-worthy meal.


RICE

Probably the most versatile item on this list. Rice is widely used all over the world and although there are thousands of rice varieties, have at least four varieties in your pantry. For diversity, we recommend always having Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio, and Wild or Brown Rice on hand. Each variety of rice has a different starch content and has their own culinary purpose. Keeping these four varieties of rice in your pantry will give you lots of flexibility to easily make side dishes, soups, curries or last-minute risotto.


DRIED PASTA

When you think of dried pasta, don't limit yourself to spaghetti. We recommend having at least 5 varieties of pasta in your pantry. Penne pasta is a good everyday go to and works best with tomato based sauces and dairy sauces. Spaghetti is versatile and works well for seafood dishes or pestos. Keep a large shell or lasagne shape in the pantry so you can easily make a stuffed or baked pasta. Orecchiette works best for chunkier or creamy sauces. And last, don't forget rice noodles. Rice noodles are gluten free and essential for pad thai, Vietnamese bun cha, or other Asian inspired meals.


CANNED BEANS

This pantry peasant is incredibly underrated. Beans are a foundational ingredient in many cuisines around the world. While dried beans are the tastiest, to keep things convenient, we recommend having several varieties of canned beans on hand. At minimum, have black beans, pinto beans, and cannellini beans in the pantry. One more to add to the list... chickpeas. While they technically aren't a bean, we'll put them in the same category. With a variety of canned beans, you can add protein to soups and salads, easily make refried beans, two bean chili, hummus, or simmer white beans with some rosemary and garlic for a simple and elegant side dish.

The XO Bakers Decorating Tool Kit gives you control others don't

TINNED TUNA OR SALMON

Tinned seafood doesn't have the reputation in North America as it does in other countries. In places like Spain, tinned seafood is a daily staple. Canned tuna and salmon are fabulous proteins that should be in your pantry at all times. But don't just think of sandwiches, in a casserole or as a topping on a salad... Tinned tuna or salmon rolled in rice makes for an impromptu Japanese inspired sushi, stuffed in tomatoes and you've headed to in the direction of Spanish tapa.


FROZEN SHRIMP

Quickly thawed in a pinch, frozen shrimp are a great protein to have on hand. Whether you're in the mood for a spicy creole inspired meal, seafood pasta, or are looking for inspiration for dumplings - frozen shrimp are versatile and fast for a quick but healthy meal.


FROZEN FISH FILLETS

We suggest unbreaded fish fillets so that you have the choice to poach, pan sear, bake, grill, fry or even coat them yourself. From a quick salmon dinner to flaking up fish and adding to a rice bowl, fish will provide healthy protein quickly.


CHICKEN STOCK

Two words : Flavour booster. Chicken stock is an essential ingredient in the pantry. We like making a large pot of chicken stock and freezing the stock into smaller containers or ice cube trays. Use the stock to make a quick weeknight soup, whip up a risotto, or simply add more flavor to sautéed veggies.

EGGS

While eggs don't have an indefinite shelf life like most other ingredients on our list, we consider eggs an essential to always have in the fridge. Eggs are so much more than just breakfast food. Crack one on top of seasoned rice for a hearty meatless main, hard-boil them for a protein-packed salad, devil them to make for an elegant starter, use them to make a quick cake, whip up fresh pasta or easy Huevos Rancheros.