I have a disclaimer here, friends. Note that I am using the term “pantry” liberally, as I have no such miraculous space in my studio apartment. The “pantry” that I refer to is really just every available nook and cranny in my kitchen that I can stuff food items into. Case in point, the top of my refrigerator, which you can find in the striking visual that accompanies this post.
We’re all in a different state when it comes to our kitchens. I fully acknowledge that not everyone wants nor needs to stock their pantry in this particular way, or at all. But I put together this short and sweet guide to all of my pantry essentials that live here year-round, regardless of global pandemic status. They just happen to be more relevant than ever right now, seeing as I sit in my studio and spend the majority of my day staring at them.
This is not comprehensive of the entirety of my spice cabinet, or the odds and ends that I have on hand. These are, quite simply, my must-haves that you will always, always find on hand in my home. Hope this helpful during this crazy time.
Ghee – This is essentially clarified butter, which is shelf-stable because the dairy has been cooked out of it. It’s great for high heat cooking, and heavenly spread on toast (like this hearty seed bread).
Avocado oil – Another great one for high heat, and it is a neutral oil that won’t influence the taste of your dish. I roast with it frequently.
Coconut oil – I keep this on hand for three reasons: 1) I oil pull with it every morning, 2) it’s a great source of saturated fat, 3) it’s another high-heat cooking option.
Extra virgin olive oil – Make sure it’s pure and high quality so that you’re getting all of the health benefits. I reserve EVOO for drizzling, for dressings, and for low-heat cooking.
Apple cider vinegar – This is my number one go-to vinegar. I put a splash in my lemon water every morning, and I use it in everything from dressings to tossing with my roasted veggies such as brussels sprouts for a little extra oomph.
Red wine vinegar – This is the dressing I use most frequently for salads. It can’t be beat.
Rice wine vinegar – A staple for Asian recipes and marinades.
White vinegar – I keep this on hand for quick-pickling items such as red onions, cukes, and shallots.
Nutritional yeast – It’s a popular vegan option that adds a serious dose of cheesy umami to any dish (it’s especially good in scrambled eggs).
Turmeric – Pretty much THE heavy-hitter of the spice world. It’s anti-inflammatory and pretty much magical and I sneak it into just about everything.
Cinnamon – My other OG spice, which also has proven medicinal qualities (such as having a positive effect on your blood sugar). I add it to my coffee grounds before brewing so that I start every morning with a hit of it.
Cardamom – I am simply obsessed with the flavor, and I add it to everything from curries to baked goods to my morning coffee grounds along with that cinnamon.
Cayenne – I find that this pepper packs a hotter punch than red chili flakes, and lasts for ages in your cabinet.
Maldon sea salt – Flaky, salty heaven. It’s simply the best.
Black pepper – I put this on everything, anyways, but don’t forget to pair it with your turmeric. Black pepper “activates” the curcumin compounds in turmeric and allows your body to increase their absorption significantly.
Always on hand
Lemons – I start every single day with a glass of room temp water with half of a juicy lemon squeezed into it (plus a spash of that ACV). I also put citrus on almost every grouping of foods for flavor – dressings, over veggies, roasted with chicken, you name it.
Fresh herbs – They are flavor powerhouses but also so darn good for your health. I view them as part of my daily greens intake.
Ginger – Store your ginger in the freezer and zest it on a microplane, skin and all. Whether adding it to hot water for ginger tea or making a fluffy gingerbread cake, it packs a major health punch and I love the spicy flavor.
Garlic – Flavorful and medicinal? Yup, put it in everything. Sorry, boys.
Mustard – I normally have at least 3-4 types of mustard on-hand at all times, but am never without a back-up jar of Grey Poupon. The dijon is a master flavor maker.
Miso – The umami bomb you never knew you needed. From miso butter chicken to pretty much the base for any sauce, this stuff is rich and flavorful and fermented to boot.
Anchovies – They get a bad rap, but they add a briny quality to so many dishes without any stereotypical fishiness. I make this anchovy-marinated chicken probably once per month.
Raw honey – Whether you’re adding it to a cup of hot tea or baking with it (this honey cake is the way to go), I always choose local honey from the farmer’s market that’s raw and unfiltered for maximum amounts of natural vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants.
Just Date syrup – If you must sweeten, this is a more natural way to do so, and the syrup is derived directly and exclusively from dates so it is rich and caramel-y, too.
Capers – They’re like tiny pickle explosions for your mouth. That is all.
Coconut aminos – Slightly sweet, slightly salty, slightly umami, this dresses up everything from cauliflower rice to roasted bok choy.
Tamari – Also known as, gluten-free soy sauce. You need this.
Organic loose leaf tea – I drink tea every day, and get my loose leaf from The Tea Spot. My favorites are their ginger tea, turmeric tonic, and Moroccan mint tea, and I brew them in this tea infuser ball.
Organic whole bean coffee – I’m a regular at Irving Farm on the Upper East Side, and so having their whole bean coffee at home makes me miss them a tiny bit less. I’ve been loving their Los Alisos blend lately.