It takes Ingredients to Make a Meal
Every kitchen is used to make meals to feed as few as one, and many more. These meals are prepared in different ways depending on who happens to be doing the cooking. Some people prefer to make things from scratch and others prefer to heat things in a microwave or make already or little preparation meals. Whatever your choice may be there are always some staple ingredients that you should keep in your kitchen. These staples have many uses in some cases, making them perfect ingredients that could be used regularly. Some ingredients will last longer than others though, so before you decide on what you always have in the cupboard you need to know if it is something you always use.
When you are about to buy spices for your home, never buy any type of kit that contains an assortment of spices. Chances are you will only use about half of them, or less. Instead think about what you cook the most, and purchase your spices as you need them, or use them. During the holidays, if you cook and bake a lot, will be the time you need the most spices, and use different ones. If you have a fresh herb garden, dried spices might not be what you are looking for, even if they are good staples to have in the house.
I like to think of survival style situations, and since dried spices don’t really go bad (the date is there for legal purposes only) there are some you need to always have. Those include salt, pepper, cinnamon, basil, dried onions, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and sometimes combined spices such as lemon pepper, garlic salt, or salt and pepper. You could also have things such as Mrs. Dash for meats. Any of these spices can make a meal stand out, even if other supplies are scarce.
For those items in the house of the canned variety there are also certain foods you are going to like, and certain things you should have. Canned goods, like most
foods are dated, but they can last far longer than their date suggests. The taste of the food will change, but it won’t harm you. You should only purchase canned food that you are going to eat. If you don’t like beets or canned carrots, don’t buy them. Stick to soups, fruits and canned meats such as tuna, chicken and potted meat. If you like corned beef hash, it is a great staple to keep in stock.
Dried foods are good to keep on hand as well, but most people think of dehydrated food when you talk about dried goods. These items
are what you might add to a meal, and while you do need water to cook most of them, some are just ingredients that you need to make a different type of dish. These consist of things like rice, brown or white, flour, and corn meal, beans, pastas. While they are not dried foods, there are other things that fall in between the dried foods and canned goods categories. These would be peanut butter in sealed jars, and jams or jellies also in sealed jars. The preservatives in these will keep them for a long time, and even if you make your own they have natural preservatives to make them last. Granola bars and boxed foods fall into this category which also includes chips and crackers, although they are date coded with shorter shelf lives. Pickles and other foods that are in jars last a long time too, it’s one of the reasons that sailors would take them on long voyages.
No pantry is complete without fresh foods to supplement the rest of the stored food. Once again you are going to only buy the food you are going to eat, but with fresh food you need to be even more careful. Fresh food goes bad a lot quicker, so you really need to be sure that you are going to eat it before you think about
buying it. Unless you have a large family, stay away from buying these items in bulk. Some fresh foods are date coded so you will know how long they can last, milk, cheese, eggs, meats are prime examples. Fruits and vegetables are not, so you need to keep an eye on them for going rotten. Bread, tortillas, donuts, cakes, and any other bakery items are prime examples of foods that seem like dried goods, but are more like fresh foods in how long they last.
Some people, like myself, take advantage on the staple of frozen food. So long as you have enough storage in your freezer, or own a secondary freezer, and have power to run them, you can have a lot of food stored up. An extra freezer in the garage always helps as you can store a lot of food, even if it is just a fridge with a freezer. Frozen food is not just the packaged food that you buy, but could also be used to store some of your perishable food too.
Frozen meals that are ready to eat, and only need to go in the oven or microwave make great staples. This includes pizza, burritos, hot pockets, TV dinners, and other items. Don’t forget the treats though, as frozen food also means ice cream, freezer pops, pies, whip cream and a whole lot more.
Be sure to rotate your food often, even if it is in the freezer. While frozen, it could get freezer burn and destroy what you thought was safe. Don’t just over buy to have it on hand, make sure that everything you buy is going to be used, and not wasted.