What You Should Always Keep In Your Pantry (and Fridge and Freezer)

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What You Should Always Keep In Your Pantry (and Fridge and Freezer)
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What You Should Always Keep In Your Pantry (and Fridge and Freezer)

Here are the staples you should regularly keep in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to make sure that you can whip up something great on the fly.

Fridge: Parmesan

A little bit of Parm makes nearly any savory dish sing. Plus, Parm lasts (almost) forever. Just make sure to take it out of the fridge for a while before using. Or, if you go through a lot of Parmesan in your life, just leave it out. Rinds add oomph to soups, too.

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Fridge: Cheddar

We’re all for putting an egg on it, but we’re big proponents of putting cheddar on almost anything. Block cheddar lasts a long time and is nice and melty, especially grated. We like extra sharp.

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Fridge: Eggs

Our I-don’t-know-what-to-eat-for-dinner crutch? An omelet, or a fried or scrambled egg.

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Fridge: Butter

Buy a pound and keep it in the freezer. Pull out a stick at a time (or more, if needed) to keep in the fridge.

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Fridge: Dijon Mustard

A lifesaver for salad dressings.

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Fridge: Carrots and Broccoli

These trusty, go-to vegetables will last forever. Roast, steam, or simply slice for crudités.

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Fridge: Parsley

Fresh herbs are wonderful, but who can use whole bunches in five days? Keep parsley on hand—it stays fresh way longer than its compadres.

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Freezer: Bread

Bread defrosts quickly and typically retains its texture and flavor after freezing (ditto for pita and tortillas). Slice before freezing for nearly instant toast.

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Freezer: Chicken Stock

You know that one Sunday you were hanging out at home and decided to make loads and loads of chicken stock? Keep that stuff in your freezer in pint-size containers, and it will be your best friend when you’re cooking lentils, rice, and pretty much any grain, ever.

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Freezer: Sausage, Bacon, or Pancetta

Add to pastas, grain bowls, and salads. Or think breakfast for dinner.

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Freezer: Shrimp: Real talk

Most shrimp you buy “fresh” has actually already been frozen. So in some ways, you’re just saving a step here. Think soups, stir-fries, noodle-heavy dishes.

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Freezer Spinach and/or Peas

Emergency vegetables, at your service.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Kosher Salt and Pepper

No explanation needed.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Onions

From soup to stir-fries to pretty much any savory meal, onions are clutch.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Garlic

Who cares if your breath smells bad? Garlic makes everything taste better.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Potatoes

They may not be quite as healthy as carrots or broccoli, but they also last forever, and they are so good no matter how you cook them.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Sriracha/Your Favorite Hot Sauce

An instant pick-me-up for bland leftovers.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Quinoa/Rice

Cooks faster than other whole grains and works for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Dried Red or Green Lentils

Red lentils cook faster than most other varieties, and lose their form quickly, which works great as a soup base. But we love (love!) green lentils with red-wine vinaigrette for a simple dinner.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Spaghetti and Other Pasta

Sometimes we all just need a spaghetti dinner or a Back Pocket Pasta meal.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Canned Tomatoes

Because fresh tomatoes aren’t always in season. Buy fire-roasted tomatoes for soups and chili.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Olive Oil

Our hero, our savior, our love.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Vegetable or Other Neutral Cooking Oil

Helpful for cooking at high heat, or when you don’t want your food to taste like a flavored oil.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Vinegar

Use white wine (or Champagne) vinegar to brighten up salads or anything raw. Use red-wine vinegar for heartier dis hes that crave a little acid. Rice vinegar is great for anything milder.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Peanut Butter or Nut Butters

For sandwiches, for sauces, for marinades, and for eating right out of the jar.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Lemons

If salt won’t save a bland dish, fresh lemon juice will.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Canned Beans

Douse with olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and lemon, and dinner is ready.

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Pantry (Doesn’t Need Refrigeration): Soy Sauce

Does your curry taste sort of flat? Is that fried rice sort of “meh”? Soy sauce to the rescue!

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It's the age-old, seven-word question that plagues nearly every home cook at some point, no matter how skilled he or she is: "What should I make for dinner tonight?"

Despite the neverending number of recipes in existence (psst!—you can find over 9,000 on this very site), it's sometimes hard to get out of a cooking rut, or figure out what the heck you're actually in the mood for. While we can't actually come over to your house and devise a menu for you, we can help you make sure you have the necessary items on hand for an off-the-cuff dinner creation.

Check out the slideshow above to which items to store in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

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