Stocking your pantry is the first step to creating a kitchen ready for anything.
- If you commonly make ethnic foods, you'll want to keep a supply of ingredients used in those cuisines as well.
- Create an herb rack or make cupboard space for spices and herbs. Get started with: salt and pepper, chili powder, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, curry powder, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Some shops sell ready-made herb racks with a selection of jarred seasonings.
- Keep baking supplies handy, such as flour, brown and white sugar, baking powder or soda, cornstarch and vanilla extract. In addition to baking, you'll use these for creating and thickening sauces and sweetening beverages.
- Stock your refrigerator and cupboards with condiments. You can always find uses for mayonnaise, ketchup, mustards, jams and other spreads. Good black olives, pickles, capers and other salty, tangy bites can jazz up your meals as well.
- Refrigerate eggs and freeze butter.
- Keep nuts and seeds around. They're great in cookies and cakes, pastas and salads and for snacking and guests.
- Buy a few kinds of good cheese - at least one grating cheese, like parmesan - for instant tasty protein.
- Store dried pastas, rice, cereals, potatoes and other durable grains. Their value is limitless and you'll never go hungry.
- Always, always, always have garlic and onions available. Almost every type of known cuisine calls for these two items.
- Keep oils for frying (canola and olive, at minimum) and salad dressings; store vinegars (red wine, white wine, balsamic, or all three, plus plain) for vinaigrettes and whenever a little acidity is needed.
- Lay in one bottle of dry white wine and one bottle of red wine, for both cooking and drinking.
- Buy canned and jarred staples for when you're in a pinch. Tuna, canned beans and sauces can start off any kitchen creation. Canned tomatoes are indispensable for quick pasta sauces.