Forget shaved truffles and caviar (though we do love them dearly). A meal — and a cook — is only as good as the pantry behind it. A well-stocked kitchen is simultaneously comforting and empowering, letting us know that we can turn dry, tiny grains and bottled sauces into a meal at a moment's notice. When our pantries are full, we can save the grocery runs for the fun things -- fresh produce, bottles of wine, fancy cheese.
The question is: Where to begin? With a dizzying array of condiments and spices, it can be tough to distinguish the essentials from the rest — like being a kid in a candy store, only much less fun. Briget L turned to the community for pointers, and she came to the right place:
Some Tips, To Start
First things first: Every pantry is different, so think about tailoring yours to your go-to dishes. Maedl says: "What kind of recipes do you cook?... Look at your preferences and build a list from them." Petitbleu adds: "It really depends on your cooking habits. If it's not an item that you use regularly, there's no point in keeping it around. This is especially true for spices and dried herbs, which lose their strength if they sit around too long." If curries are your thing, consider stocking up on mustard seeds and cumin; if you're channeling Le Cordon Bleu, herbes de Provence might be more at home on your shelves.
Check out the slideshow above for the most essential pantry items.
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: Your Essential Must-Have Pantry Items.