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The Well-Stocked Pantry -- A Cook's Secret Weapon

Doing any job is easier when you have the right tools on hand. One of a cook's best tools -- and secret weapons -- is having a well-stocked pantry.

Cooking is much simpler if you know that you've already got what you need on hand, and aren't going to have to run to the corner market every time you want to fix a meal.

Having a well-stocked pantry is also the secret weapon of every "Hostess with the Mostest" especially when unexpected guests drop by.

You'll be able to make every guest feel special and welcome because, whether it is appetizers for four or dinner for ten, you can handle it with style and panache. In fact, your reputation -- and your sanity -- will be assured, because with these things in your pantry, you can put together beautiful and tasty food that is beautifully presented in just minutes, simply and easily.

Here is a list of basic ingredients that should be in any well-stocked pantry. (One great way to stock your pantry is to buy one or two things on the list each time you go shopping, rather than trying to get it all at once. If you watch the sales and take advantage of seasonal buys, you'll be able to save money as well!)

Remember to rotate everything in your pantry on a regular basis, and adjust the items on this list to suit your family's likes and dislikes.

Herbs, Spices, Extracts and Sauces:
Salt (Sea and Iodized)
Pepper (Whole Peppercorns, Black, White and Red)
Nutmeg (Ground and Fresh)
Cinnamon (Ground and Sticks)
Pumpkin Pie Spice (Ground)
Allspice (Ground)
Cardamom (Whole and Ground)
Ginger (Whole and Ground)
Curry (Ground)
Garlic (Fresh and Ground for Emergencies)
Mustard (Ground)
Bay Leaves (Dried)
Rosemary (Fresh and Bottled)
Thyme (Fresh and Bottled)
Sage (Fresh and Dried)
Sweet Basil (Fresh and Dried)
Parsley (Fresh and Dried for Emergencies)
Cumin (Ground)
Oregano (Dried)
Onions (Flakes for Emergencies)
Vanilla Extract
Maple Extract
Almond Extract
Lemon Extract
Orange Extract
Soy Sauce
Cooking Wine or Cooking Sherry
Rice Wine Vinegar
Sesame Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar
Citrus Vinegar
Teriyaki Sauce
Barbecue Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Tabasco or Other Hot Sauce
Chili Sauce
Steak Sauce
Packages of Salad Dressing Mix
Packages of Dried Onion Soup Mix (Or Other Flavors)
Soup for Sauces (Cream of Chicken, Mushroom, Celery and Cheese)

For Baking:
All Purpose Flour
Self-Rising Flour
Whole Wheat Flour
Pancake Mix
Confectioner's Sugar
Brown Sugar
Sugar Cubes
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Cocoa Powder
Unsweetened or Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Butterscotch, Caramel and other flavored "chips"
Nuts (Walnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Hazelnuts and Cashews)
Marshmallow Cream
Vegetable Shortening (Regular and Butter-Flavored)
Sunflower Oil
Maraschino Cherries

For Appetizers or Adding "Something Special" to Meals:
Peanuts in the Shell
Salted Peanuts
Mixed Nuts
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A Variety of Crackers
Black and Green Olives
Canned Mushrooms
Palm Tree Hearts
Bottled Asparagus
Sun-dried Tomatoes
Bottled Salsa
A Variety of Chips and Dips
Cheeses (Traditionally, 3 to 5 are served, from hard to soft, mild to strong. Find flavors that mix well together, and serve cheeses from different animals and different countries)

For Everyday Meals:
Bullion Cubes and Powders (Chicken, Beef and Vegetable)
White Rice
Long Grain and Wild Rice
Brown Rice
A Variety of Pastas
Bread Crumbs
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
A Variety of Canned Tomatoes
A Variety of Canned Beans (Black, Red, Kidney and Garbanzo)
Dried Beans (Pinto, Chili and Kidney)
Canned Tuna, Chicken, Crab and Clams

For Desserts:
Canned Pineapple (Chunks and Slices)
A Variety of Canned Fruits
A Variety of Jams or Jellies
A Variety of Cake Mixes, Brownies and Frostings
A Variety of Packaged Puddings
All the fixings for Ice Cream Sundaes or Banana Splits

In the Refrigerator:
Eggs (Or Egg Substitutes)
Cream (A staple for many Mediterranean Dishes)
Butter or Margarine
Yellow Mustard
Brown Mustard
Dijon Mustard
Mayonnaise or Salad Dressing
Cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Feta, Parmesan and Jack)
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Green Onions
Salad Fixings

In the Freezer:
Whole Chicken
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Beef or Pork Roast
Stew Meat
Pork Chops
Pieces of yellow, red and green peppers (Chop up any leftovers each time you use them and throw them into a bag in the freezer. They will add color and flavor to bland dishes)
Frozen Bread Dough (Make your own or store bought)
Frozen Rolls (Make your own or store bought)
Frozen Pizza Dough (Make your own or store bought)
Frozen Baguette

With these ingredients in your kitchen, the only thing you'll have to worry about when it's time to cook is which recipe you want to try!

Submitted by:

Geoffrey Cook

Geoffrey Cook

You too, can manoeuvre in the unfamiliar waters of gourmet cuisine, with just a few well-learned techniques that are easy to master, and build a repertoire of literally hundreds of dishes and deserts. Let Geoffrey set you on the path today, to gastronomical delights! http://www.free-recipe-books.com.


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