Around January of this year, I moved in with my boyfriend of 5 years, literally right at the start of the pandemic. What I was most excited for, besides living with my love, was being more creative with cooking!
Having my own kitchen, if it was fancy or not, was a big dream of mine! Getting to cook whatever I wanted seemed super fun. But what I learned very quickly is that you need to have the essentials before you really can make delicious meals.
Here is my list of 10 items that have made me a better home cook 😊 This post may contain Ads of products I truly love and personally would recommend.
These oils might include high heat friendly options filled with healthy fats, like avocado oil or coconut oil. For lower heat preparations, a solid bottle of olive oil should always be handy. You can even use good olive oil as a finishing touch, like a drizzle over salad or hummus. Here’s a great quality extra virgin olive oil that’s very inexpensive
If you’re really looking to step up your pantry game, keep finishing oils like sesame oil or walnut oil on hand.
2. A Variety of Vinegar
A good vinegar will make a good dish great, and thankfully there are many options to choose from.
Balsamic vinegar is perfect coating for grilling veggies and chicken. Champagne vinegar adds a sweet note to homemade vinaigrettes. You can use apple cider vinegar to make a homemade BBQ sauce! Plus, it has excellent health benefits too!
I love using rice wine vinegar to heighten flavors in sweet and sour dishes! It adds amazing flavor to soups, stocks, dressing and marinades.
3. A Big Ass Cast Iron Skillet
Possibly one of the greatest cast iron skillet health benefits is that it adds iron to your food. Many people suffer from iron deficiency and cooking with cast iron pans can help increase your iron content by as much as 20 times!
They are also dual purpose. Not only can you use them on the stove, but you can also use them in the oven at any temperature. They are also non stick and very easy to clean
I use this 15 inch cast iron skillet almost everyday ❤️
4. Soy Sauce / Tamari
Soy sauce is the best way to build umami into your dishes. Soy sauce, which is very inexpensive, is a sauce made from fermented soybeans, roasted wheat.
If you’re gluten-free, a specific type of soy sauce, tamari, can be made without gluten.
Use soy sauce or any of its alternatives in Asian-inspired dishes. I’ve been LOVING using ponzu with or instead of soy sauce. Ponzu is a sauce that combines soy sauce, dashi and a Japanese citrus, which tastes both fresh and rich in umami. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend trying Ponzu.
5. Your Favorite Hot Sauce
Hot sauce is essential because it can be used on almost anything and elevates the flavor of whatever you’re putting it on.
Use your favorite hot sauce to spice up a simple breakfast, or incorporate it into sauces or marinades for an extra kick.
6. Dried Spices
Dried oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme lend beautiful flavors to any dish you whip up!
Other dried herbs I’d consider staples include dill, cumin and chili powder if you’d really like to pad out your spice cabinet.
Here is a great starter spice rack with free spice refills for 5 years!
7. Coconut Milk & Canned Tomatoes
Coconut milk lends richness to any dish and it’s a great alternative to heavy cream or milk as it doesn’t spoil as fast in the fridge.
Canned tomatoes are a great staple to have a good a variety on hand for creating pasta sauces, beef stews, chili, salsa, salads, soups and so much more. They’re inexpensive and can add flavor to nearly any dish!
8. Nut / Seed Butters
Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, tahini? Whichever nut or seed butter you prefer, it will definitely serve many uses in your kitchen.
Peanut butter or almond butter both make excellent Asian-inspired sauces. Tahini tastes delicious in Mediterranean dishes.
You can use nut butters to spread on toast, add protein to smoothies, and bake up some delicious cookies.
9. Crock-Pot Slow Cooker
Because of the long, low-temperature cooking, slow cookers brings out the flavor in foods. A wide variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, including one pot meals, soups, stews and casseroles.
One of my favorite meals to make pulled chicken sandwiches with this slow cooker pulled chicken recipe on pinterest. Super easy letting the crockpot do its thing and it’s very delicious.
If you need a recommendation this slow cooker has great reviews but also doesn’t break the bank ❤
10. Good Quality Salt & Black Pepper
It’s kind of obvious that you should have salt and pepper on hand. It’s rare to not add it to a dish in the kitchen.
My favorite type of salt to use is himalayan pink salt, I love the flavor and the color presentation! And freshly cracked black peppercorns has the best flavor by far. This is a great salt and pepper bundle set with attached grinders to get started!
Leave a comment below with your favorite kitchen essential! Also, check out my recipe for an easy New Orleans inspired Bbq Shrimp recipe if you want to impress someone special 😘
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram if you’re always hungry too ❤️