12 Pantry Staples We All Need

With the nationwide lockdown, cooking at home every day has become one of the most difficult decisions all the chefs in the household have to deal with. It includes catering to all the different tastes in the house as well as making sure everyone has enough to eat and is satiated while making sure that each meal is balanced and relatively healthy. With that said, these are the 12 things I always have in my kitchen cupboard, especially during this lockdown period:

  1. Pasta. 

When we were living in Italy, pasta was a lot cheaper than rice and the variety was amazing, It was the staple in the country (as rice is in many other countries) and it was easy to find fresh lasagne sheets or tortellini and ravioli in the fridge at the supermarket. Since returning back to South Africa, my pantry always has spaghetti, linguine, lasagne sheets (I usually plan to buy this fresh but I have the boxed sheets as well just in case!), and penne rigate (the penne quills with the ridges tend to hold the sauce better than the smooth penne).

  1. Rice. 

While living in Italy, we found that the rice we preferred was Basmati rice and when we got back we started exclusively having basmati rice with our meals and we still love it. It is also easy to cook and versatile enough for our needs. 

  1. All Purpose Flour. 

What can’t you make with AP flour? I use flour to make roti and sometimes biscuits. Banana bread is something I usually end up making because my husband always buys bananas and never ends up eating them all before they turn brown. A new thing we have started making is churros. We haven’t really aced it yet but that could be down to the shape of our churros. I haven’t received my baking kit along with all of our other possessions yet (due to the lockdown) so hopefully we will give it another go as soon as our things arrive.

  1. Potatoes.

 I saw a picture on Facebook a few days ago and couldn’t help sharing it with my husband. The picture was about potatoes and how we should all be thankful that we can make so many different dishes with them. My husband likes to add them to curries, and I prefer them to be boiled until soft and then roasted. Adding potatoes to a meal is a way to make them more hearty especially if you don’t really feel for rice or pasta. 

  1. Oil. 

This one is quote obvious. We usually have Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well as sunflower oil and while we don’t usually use oil to make everything, there are certain flavour. Along with this, we usually do a lot of cooking (or frying) with Spray and Cook, something that we couldn’t really find in Italy but now that we are back it has once again become a staple in our home. 

  1. Sugar.

 I love my coffee in the morning with a bit of brown sugar added to it. When I go somewhere and all they have is white sugar, I can definitely taste the difference. I can’t remember exactly how or why I switched to brown sugar but I definitely know that I prefer the taste of brown sugar to white sugar. With that said, I always have both in my pantry because I do prefer to add white sugar to my baking instead of brown (unless the recipe calls for brown).

  1. Icing Sugar.

I have always enjoyed baking, but what I love better than anything is a nice iced cookie or a little drizzle of something sweet over a madeira loaf or even a slice of warm banana bread. Yes, I know I have weird tastes but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I also enjoy a dusting of icing sugar over my french toast. I once went to a restaurant for breakfast with my mum where I discovered that trick and I have tried it at home on a number of occasions much to my delight!

  1. Soy Sauce.

To think that I only discovered my love for sushi once we moved to Italy and now I simply cannot get enough of it, and what goes well with sushi? Soy sauce! Don’t be fooled into thinking that this sauce can only be used for sushi, I have added it to marinade and it elevates many meals. My go to marinade includes soy sauce, a bit of brown sugar, a few squeezes of barbeque sauce and some cajun spice. Delicious doesn’t describe how tasty this marinade actually is!

  1. Herbs and Spices.

I have a plethora of spices in my kitchen cupboard ranging from my indian spices (which I usually use with curries) to my herbs like thyme, oregano, basil and rosemary. All you need to do is add some rosemary and thyme with a bit of salt to roast potatoes to elevate them into a tasty side dish. Various herbs and spices have always made many dishes taste delicious no matter how simple they are. We have also moved to keeping some fresh herbs in our home to add to meals. A lot of grocery stores will have a mixed herbs punnet which seems to have become a staple as well.

  1. Frozen Broccoli. 

My favourite vegetable, I usually stock up on frozen broccoli because I eat at least 2 cups a day. I think it is okay to eat broccoli everyday, it is packed with fibre and many vitamins and other nutrients plus it’s high in protein. I also recently discovered that you can make a pizza base with broccoli in the same way as cauliflower. My mind was blown. They are extremely versatile and can be added to pasta dishes, or even mixed with a cheesy sauce for a delicious side to any meal.

  1. Meat and Fish. 

There are no vegetarians under this roof! I like to make sure that we have enough meat and fish stocked up in case I cannot get to the shop over the weekend and need my weekly groceries to last a little longer. While we do not eat beef or pork in our home, we do love our lamb chops and mince (things we struggled to find at the grocery stores in Italy) and always have different types of chicken pieces on hand. 

  1. Milk. 

Who doesn’t love a cappuccino in the morning? We have a coffee machine but sometimes I just need more froth! On warmer days I do tend to opt for a smoothie and I tend to lean towards almond milk for that so I make sure I always have enough of both handy.

These are my all season staples for the majority of my meals. What do you have in your pantry? I would love to hear below!

-Aziza

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