Want to eat great and spend less? Cook at home. Start by rejuvenating your pantry.
In December and January, The Simple Dollar is posting a daily series focusing on specific activities you can do right now to set the stage for a great 2011. Out with the old, in with the new.
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* Anchovies: a must for many pasta sauces, flat filets in a can or anchovy paste.
* Artichokes: canned hearts packed in water.
* Beans: an assortment of canned (easier) or dry (more work but tastier). Bread crumbs
* Capers: great in salads and pasta dishes.
* Chutney: great for crackers and sauces.
* Clam juice: a good substitute for fish stock.
* Corn meal: great for dredging foods and a must for polenta.
* Coconut: either shredded in a can or coconut milk or better yet, both.Cornstarch: for thickening sauces
* Crackers: assorted types.
* Dried fruits: apples, apricots, currants, figs, and raisins.
* Dried herbs: basil, bay leaves, chili powder, cinnamon, dill, nutmeg, oregano, paprika, crushed red pepper, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme.
* Extracts: vanilla is the most important, but try orange and almond.
* Flour: unbleached all-purpose
* Jams, Jellies, Preserves, and Honey
* Ketchup: always have an extra bottle on hand.
* Mushrooms: an assortment of dried including shiitake, morels, and porcini.
* Mustard: Dried and Dijon in a jar
* Oils: Olive, pure for everyday cooking and virgin for drizzling, canola, and sesame.
* Olives: canned, pitted and non-pitted, nicoise and calamata and olive paste
* Pasta: an assortment of shapes and sizes; dried
* Peanut butter: I like the chunky style.
* Peas: canned petite style. Fresh is better, but these are good to have on hand
* Pepper: whole peppercorns, ground black and white pepper.
* Pesto, Tapenade, Salsa
* Rice: Arborio (for risotto), brown, white, wild (not really a rice but a long grain marsh grass).
* Salt: regular and sea salt.
* Salad Dressings: my favorite is Good Seasons
* Sauces: Soy or Tamari, Tabasco, Teriyaki, and Worcestershire
* Sugar: white and brown, granulated and confectioners
* Tomatoes: canned – whole plum, paste, and puree; sun-driedTuna: canned, packed in water.
* Vinegar: balsamic, white wine, red wine, rice wine.Wines: Marsala, Madeira, and Sherry
The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.
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If you have all of this in your pantry, you’re in great shape for some wonderful cooking in your future. This list provides everything you need to make anything from simple spaghetti to very complex dishes.
Even better, you’ll quickly find that, if you have any initiative to cook at all, having an organized pantry entices you to prepare more food at home. Preparing more food at home means that your food bill each month goes down. That means you find yourself more in control of your financial life than ever.
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