How to Stock A Kitchen: Must-Haves For Today's Pantry

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Online Wellness Community, InnerRewards, Offers Expert Advice From Culinary Instructor, Emily Dellas, of First Class Cooking

News Facts:

  • How can you save time, money AND produce healthy meals for your family? Today, online wellness community, InnerRewards, released a list of the must-haves for a healthy and budget-friendly pantry. The list was put together by culinary instructor Emily Dellas of San Francisco's First Class Cooking.

Must Haves For The Cupboard:

  • Canned beans -- Fast and easy vegetarian protein. Drain and rinse before serving. Use in soups, pasta, salads, or eat them on their own.
  • Canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines -- Provide a good source of protein and beneficial fats.
  • Lentils, split peas, barley, farro, wheatberries, and quinoa -- These protein-rich items cook quickly, do not require any advanced preparation, and serve as a neutral backdrop to a wide array of flavors.
  • Rolled oats -- Full of fiber, oats cook extremely quickly (about 5 minutes).
  • Pasta -- Stock both semolina Italian pastas and Asian rice noodles.
  • Canned tomatoes -- Ideal for making sauces.
  • Chicken or vegetable stock.
  • Coconut milk.
  • Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce -- A great way to add a smoky heat to dishes.
  • Nuts and raisins -- Store them in the freezer to extend their shelf life.
  • Bread crumbs -- Make your own by grinding leftover, dried bread in a food processor or blender.

Must Haves For The Fridge:

  • Capers, olives, anchovies -- These have a long shelf-life and deliver a delicious briny flavor to dishes.
  • Mustards, chutneys, horseradish -- Mix into salads or transition them into marinades and dressings.
  • Eggs -- This inexpensive, easy-to-cook, lean protein has a shelf life of about three weeks.
  • Fresh ginger -- Store this unpeeled in the fridge for up to four weeks.
  • Jalapeno chilies.
  • Yogurt.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Parmesan cheese -- This will last three months and can be grated as needed.

Must Haves For The Cabinet:

  • Onions, garlic, shallots -- Store in a cool dark place and they will last four to six weeks.
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash.

Must Haves For The Freezer:

  • Vegetables -- Flash-frozen vegetables are frozen right when they are picked, so they maintain much of their nutrients.
  • Frozen shrimp.

Must Have Sauces:

  • Oils -- Buy a cheap olive oil for sautéing and a bolder-tasting one for finishing, such as garlic infused olive oil. Also, buy a cooking oil with a high-smoke point. This includes canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or peanut oils.
  • Balsamic vinegar -- It's versatile and can be used in a wide array of dishes.
  • Light and white vinegars -- Keep a white wine, rice wine, or champagne vinegar on hand for when you wish to use a less-intense vinegar.
  • Sherry vinegar -- Bold enough to stand in dressings, but does not dominate a dish. Apple Cider vinegar and Red Wine Vinegar are also worth stocking.
  • Soy sauce -- Don't cook Asian food? Soy can cross cuisines as a wonderful flavoring.
  • Fish sauce, Siracha, curry paste, tamari, sesame oil.
  • Honey, molasses, maple syrup.
  • Salad dressings.

Must Have Spices:

  • A good starting point includes: chile pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, curry powder, garam masala, thyme, marjoram, paprika, Herbes de Provence and dried mustard.

Must Have Fresh Produce:

  • Fresh lemons, limes, oranges.
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro.
  • Scallions.
  • Salad greens.
  • Broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Green beans or sugar snap peas.
  • Sweet-Tart apples, such as Pink Lady or Fuji, add perk to salads and can be cooked in savory dishes.

Supporting Quotes:
"The motto, "Be prepared," isn't just for Boy Scouts--it is a mantra for cooks who want to prepare nutritious and delicious meals at home. If you have the right foods in your kitchen, you are halfway there." - Emily Dellas, private chef, First Class Cooking.

Supporting Resources:
Video of Emily Dellas
First Class Cooking

About InnerRewards:
InnerRewards is the first complete online wellness community and e-commerce platform that connects businesses with new and existing customers. Consumers interested in health and wellness can get information, connect with one another, and buy products and services, while wellness providers can reach new customers, build their brand, and drive sales via innovative and measurable online marketing techniques. The company was founded in 2008 by Julie Elaine Brown, former new media executive for Johnson & Johnson, and includes a team with experience at companies such as PayPal, Yahoo!, Apple, and Razorfish. For more information, visit


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Kari Straley
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