Stock Your Kitchen

The excuse I hear most often as to why my friends do not cook for themselves or why they think it would too expensive to cook for themselves is because they don’t have a properly stocked kitchen. I decided to put together a list of basics that I think every kitchen should have to get them through the most basic recipes. Sure, there will be ingredients in every recipe that you need to buy fresh but these are the items that you can buy once or buy once in a great while and use over and over and over again. Remember, the cost of these items are often one-time costs or once-a-year (or longer) costs.

Spices and Seasonings

With all of the cooking I do, these bottles of herbs and spices often last me over a year. Because the cost is so small and hard to calculate, you will often see me list these ingredients in recipes as costing $0.05 per recipe or $0.10 per recipe for more expensive herbs and spices. NOTE: these prices are for “brand” products. if you can find generic, the cost will be even lower.

salt $0.36 26 oz.
fresh pepper grinder (mini) $2.22 .85 oz.
seasoning salt (like tony chachere’s ) $1.32 8 oz.
dried basil $1.94 .62 oz.
dried oregano $1.62 .75 oz.
red pepper flakes $2.68 2.62 oz.
cumin $2.62 2 oz.
total $14.4 7 items

Pantry Basics

These dry items can be kept for a very long time if sealed air tight to keep out moisture and critters.

sugar $1.12 20 oz.
all-purpose flour $1.50 2 lbs.
olive oil $6.28 25.5 oz.
balsamic vinegar $1.58 8 oz.
non-stick spray $1.74 8 oz.
bread crumbs $0.98 15 oz.
long grain rice $1.46 2 lb.
brown rice $1.56 2 lb.
total $16.50 8 items

Fresh/Refrigerated Items

Although these items are fresh and do not last forever like the other kitchen basics, I keep them at all times because they are so widely used in my every day cooking that I use them up before they go bad.

milk $2.33 .5 gal
eggs $1.88 1 doz (12 ea)
salsa $1.98 26 oz.
shredded cheese $1.78 8 oz.
total $9.09 4 items

Appliances and Utensils

measuring cups $2.74 set of 4
measuring spoons $1.64 set of 5
cutting board $9.98 8×10 inches
plastic food storage containers $10.00 24 pc. set
total $24.36 4 (27, technically) items

A Kitchen Stocked with the Basics – $64.35

If you are on “super tight budget lock down” then don’t worry! You don’t need to buy all of these things at once! This is just a guide for those of you who don’t know where to begin or are overwhelmed with the thought of getting everything you need to start cooking for yourself. Once again, this list is not everything that you will need to cook every recipe but it is a great start!

What else is on my personal “must have” grocery list? Well let’s see…

Bananas: I eat them in my cereal, in yogurt parfaits or as a carry along snack.

Yogurt: a healthier alternative to the usual sweet tooth fix and also makes a great parfait for breakfast.

Coffee: I gotta have my morning cup a joe. So warm and satisfying!

Canned Beans: If I’m really in a pinch for time or money, I just open a can, pour it over some rice, add some salsa and cheese and I’m good to go. This is my emergency meal.

Dry pasta, jar of pasta sauce: another emergency meal, great to keep on hand (they last forever).

A $10 bottle of wine: just in case you have “one of those days” or an unexpected dinner guest!

What are your kitchen basics? What food, ingredient, gadget or appliance can you not live without? Post your answers and share with us all!