10 Must Haves for Simple Meals

Whether you enjoy cooking or not, it’s one of those necessary parts of life. Having a well-stocked kitchen can make the whole process more enjoyable and efficient. When you have a kitchen that’s organized and full of the right tools and ingredients, you can always make a delicious meal without having to spend the time on a 5 o’clock run to the grocery store. Here are ten important things every kitchen needs.

1. Pasta or Rice
Keeping pasta on hand means you can have a filling meal on the table in under 30 minutes. Whether you make stovetop mac and cheese or simple spaghetti and marinara sauce, you can feed a lot of people with a single box of pasta. If you avoid gluten, choose rice or alternative pasta instead.

2. Frozen Veggies
Frozen veggies are less expensive than fresh and higher in nutrients because they’re picked at the peak and frozen immediately. Keeping vegetables on hand means you always have a side dish, and you can even make a quick main course of stir fry.

3. Measuring Cups
Having a good set of measuring cups is essential for any kitchen. Choose a durable material such as stainless steel or pyrex and make sure the markings are permanently etched rather than painted on so they won’t fade or disappear.

4. Eggs
Keeping eggs (or egg substitute) on hand gives you a multitude of options for every meal. Omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas and quiche work equally well at any time of day and are fairly quick and simple to make. You can also make hard boiled eggs to keep in the fridge for a healthy and protein-packed snack.

5. Frozen Meals
Whether it’s a frozen pizza from your favorite brand or a homemade enchilada casserole, a frozen meal is a perfect solution for those nights when you just don’t want to cook. You’ll save the hassle and expense of ordering takeout and get dinner on the table quickly.

6. Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances. There are new models that even function as pressure cookers as well like the Instant Pot, which I use almost daily. This tool lets you prep your meal in the morning and cook it all day even when you aren’t home so it’s perfect for people with busy lifestyles.

7. List of Go-To Recipes
Take stock of your usual cooking routines and write up a list of your favorite go-to recipes. I use the mobile application Cozi to not only store my recipes but help me make my shopping lists and plan my meals. Keep all the ingredients on hand and you’ll always have an easy option for dinner even if you haven’t meal planned or grocery shopped in a week.

8. Good Knives
Knives are no place to skimp when it comes to quality. A good knife can last a lifetime when cared for properly. Look for high-quality materials and choose knives individually rather than in a set. Most cooks really only need two or three good knives and it’s best to pick styles that feel comfortable to you. As a chef I find that there are really only two knives that you need in your kitchen and a good knife sharpener because those knives if kept sharp may last you a lifetime. I suggest a good chef’s knifepairing knife and a 3 stage sharpener.

9. Sandwich Fixings
A sandwich is another great go-to meal. Whether you like a loaded club sandwich or a simple grilled cheese, there’s something magical about the combination of bread, condiments, meat and cheese. Choose good-quality sliced bread and fillings. Don’t forget the seasonings and condiments. Healthy HamptonCreek flavored mayo is a great way to add extra flavor to your sandwich without overloading on cholesterol or artificial ingredients. Add a piece of fruit to your place and you have a complete meal in no time at all.

10. Good Cookware
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a shopping spree at the fancy kitchen store, but every kitchen should have a few high-quality pots and pans. A large nonstick skillet, covered Dutch oven, a small saucepan and a stockpot will give you the ability to make just about any recipe. If you enjoy cooking, you can expand your collection to include cast iron and specialty pans.

A well-stocked kitchen makes cooking easy and can give even novice cooks inspiration. Keeping your pantry stocked with ingredients such as rice and pasta means you can make a meal quickly, especially with eggs and some vegetables from your freezer. Keep a frozen pizza or casserole on hand for those nights you just don’t feel like cooking and make good use of your slow cooker. Invest in quality knives, measuring cups and cookware. Choose high-quality sandwich ingredients to keep on hand for another quick, healthy meal option and enjoy knowing you can put dinner on the table easily.

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