Okay, first and foremost – you have to have oil of some sort. I tend to always use olive oil, but I have coconut oil on hand. Both are good for cooking and add a ton of flavor to your dishes. I also recommend grapeseed oil.
Along w/ oil comes vinegar. I do have balsamic but I honestly use apple cider vinegar 100% more. It’s great in vinaigrettes, as a metabolism-boosting shot or in a variety of recipes.
Speaking of oil, I always have some apple sauce on hand. Surprisingly, I end up using as an oil replacer in everything from pancakes & bread to cupcakes. Also, it’s just tasty on it’s own as a snack.
& now onto snacks… definitely, definitely have some nuts on hand. I have a tons of varieties because I’m a hoarder, but I’d recommend starting w/ almonds. You can use them in almond milk, almond butter & more — or just snack on them & enjoy!
If you’re a snacker, you can’t forget peanut butter. Or any nut butter for that matter. I’m known for eating it right off the spoon but you can also use it for more useful things like PB&Js, dip for fruit/veggies, peanut sauces or adding it to oatmeal.
Which is another thing that’s always in my pantry — quick-cooking oats. Yes, they’re good for oatmeal, but they’re also amazing in baked goods. Or granola. Or cookies. The list goes on… Oh, and you can make your own almond flour. Pretty cool.
When I’m not in the mood to make my own flour, I use almond flour. It’s a good replacement for white flour. Just make sure you get the kind that lists ‘almonds’ as the only ingredient. I’d start with 1/4 lb from the bulk section and get more if you need it. A little goes a long way.
Which reminds me: honey. A little of this definitely goes a long way too. Honey is probably my fave pantry item because it just smells and tastes good in everything. I rarely ever use cane sugar now that I’ve started sweetening everything w/ honey. Yum.
You can’t forget canned goods. They get looked down a lot but I’m not sure why. Having canned beans & tomatoes on hand is convenient, quick & easy. In a matter of seconds — literally — you can have a meal ready to go. Warm up a can of beans & tomatoes w/ some quinoa and BAM! dinner in a few mins.
I love quinoa and always have some ready to go. I buy mine in bulk since I make a huge batch at one time that lasts for about a week. You can add it to anything. I also love cous cous, which cooks similar to quinoa but is ready in half the time. Win win!
Another starchy-like thing to have on hand is pasta, because… it’s pasta. Who doesn’t love pasta? Try to go for a healthier version like whole wheat or quinoa if possible. It might taste weird at first but you’ll grow to love the taste — I personally prefer it to white pasta now. Also, I just found out about almond pasta. I’m in love! That’s also a good option.
I saved the best for last 😉 my favorite of any item in the kitchen: chia seeds. I love these little guys and add them to everything. Really. In the past week or so, I’ve added chia to a smoothie, juice, pancakes, oatmeal & more. So good and super healthy for you!
But wait… I can’t forget about the most important part: spices. These guys will make or break your kitchen experience. Without S&P, vanilla extract, baking powder/salt, I’d be nowhere. Definitely have those on hand. I’ll also do a full post soon about which herbs & spices I always have on hand. Def head to the spice aisle and take a look. Your dishes/baked goods will instantly taste better!
& in case you’re wondering… here are the other items that didn’t make the cut but were pretty dang close: vegetable broth, cooking spray, coconut sugar, dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, & cacao nibs. If you can, you should splurge on those (and get extra chocolate!).