Menu Planning Series – Part Three – Staples and Tools
The third installment in our menu planning series has to do with having a properly equipped kitchen.
You’re gonna need some tools. Let’s talk about them, from the pantry and to what you might want to keep in the freezer, to the instruments that will cut, shape, hold your food.
Here we go.
Staples to Have on Hand
I like to have a few things on hand for last minute meals: pasta and tuna for a Tuna Casserole, Tomato Soup, cheese, and bread for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (boxed soup is fine, but if you want to make a large batch of homemade and store it in small portions, it’s a great idea!); homemade waffle/pancake mix, and eggs and bread for French Toast.
I also like to have regular pantry staples such as: good olive oil, coconut oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white vinegar, canned beans (great if you don’t have time to soak and cook dried ones – it takes some planning ahead), dried beans, cans of tomato sauce (plain, add your own seasonings – cheaper than buying a jar of pre-made sauce at the store), dried herbs (oregano, parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, savory), salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, all spice, nutmeg, onions, garlic, pasta, brown rice, corn meal (for polenta and cornbread), quinoa, oats, potatoes, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, coconut palm sugar, honey, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract.
In the refrigerator: unsalted butter, milk, eggs, apples, lemons, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, peanut butter, maple syrup, dijon mustard, mayonnaise, sandwich bread, homemade jam, carrots, lettuce, greens (kale or spinach), and fresh herbs.
In the freezer: a package or two of ground beef/turkey/chicken, a whole chicken, frozen leftover chicken, salmon, and bacon (f you don’t eat meat at every meal staples like: tempeh and tofu work well), peas, corn, dry yeast (yes, an extra jar), and frozen veggies (ones that might not get eaten the week they arrived in the AHO box, cut into bite smaller pieces).
If your kitchen isn’t fully equipped, here are a few things that you will need to get started: a good chef’s knife (that is kept sharp), paring knife, bread knife, set of bowls (that can be washed in the dishwasher, if you have one), large serving spoon, medium serving spoons, wooden spoons, whisks, tongs, grater, small sauce pot, medium sauce pot, heavy bottomed soup pot, baking sheets, cooling racks, cast iron skillet (one of my favorite kitchen tools), cutting boards, veggie peeler, hot pads, meat thermometer (I use mine all the time), baster, spatulas, kitchen scissors, measuring cups (the scooping kind and the glass pouring kind) and spoons, funnel, aluminum foil, and parchment paper.
Once you’ve got the basics, here are a few other tools that I’ve gotten a lot of use out of: hand blender, microplane grater, KitchenAid stand mixer, steamer basket, small glass prep-bowls, individual sized ramekins (perfect for individual Chicken Pot Pies), oven thermometer, and a rolling pin (if you don’t have one you can use a large glass bottle).
I think you’re ready. I hope that in no time at all this becomes second nature to you. I have confidence that you are well on your way to a lifetime of delicious foods. And remember to ask if you need help.