1) You do not have to start out with everything on this list in order to cook a good meal or be efficient in the kitchen.
2) And, don't pressure yourself to sock away enough food and "pantry basics" for a year's worth of meal preparation.
3) Just buy what you can and gradually add the others.
Vegetable Oil (it's pricier but much healthier to substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil)
Red Wine Vineger
Apple Cider Vinegar
Spices (cinnamon, black pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, Italian blend seasoning, oregano, paprika, ground ginger, nutmeg, cumin)
Dried Herbs (rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, dill)
Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Spice Salute (I use this very frequently. Love it.)
Pasta (or Marinara) Sauce
Red and White Wines (In my humble opinion, "cooking wines" are horrendous. Just use the real thing.)
Pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, penne)
Blue Corn Chips
Whole-Wheat Bread or any variety of Gluten-Free Bread
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Pure Maple Syrup
Almond Milk (if needed)
Coconut Milk (if needed)
Puff Pastry Sheets
If you've made it this far down on the page without fleeing in fright, congratulations!
Based on this list of very basic pantry staples, here are some meal ideas:
- Pasta with Edamame and Bacon (about 20 minutes)
- Vegetable Soup (about 1 hour)
- Egg and Cheese Strata (chill overnight; about 10 minutes to prepare and 1 hour to bake)
- Shrimp Scampi (about 20 minutes)
- Scalloped Potatoes (about 15 minutes to prepare, and 1 hour to bake)
- Tuna Salad Sandwich