Beyond the Basics – A Texas Wife’s Top 10 Pantry & Fridge Essentials

Cooking our meals at home has been a great way for us to eat healthy AND stay on a budget. As I shared with you in Weekly Menu Planning, we create our weekly menu and go for groceries every Sunday morning. BUT, inevitably, I won’t feel like eating what I planned at least one day so, I like to keep a smartly stocked pantry and fridge… just in case. Going beyond the kitchen basics (milk, eggs, flour, salt, oil), here are my Top 10 Every Day Pantry & Fridge Essentials.

Top 10 Pantry  Essentials
  1. Brown Rice – Inexpensive, healthy, filling, and versatile!
  2. Beans – Maybe it is because I am a Texan, but I can pretty much work black beans into any dish. Cannellini, navy, and chickpeas are good options too.
  3. Rotel (diced tomatoes & green chilies) – Conveniently diced and ready to go, Rotel adds a little pizzazz to any dish.
  4. Tomato Paste – Can use to thicken sauces or as a binder.
  5. Popcorn –  Perfect snack as is or drizzle with a little caramel and melted chocolate for a sweet treat! I avoid the microwave bags. I like to pop mine in a cast iron skillet.
  6. Pasta – Dried pasta can last 1-2 years when stored properly and can be used to throw together a quick weeknight dinner.
  7. Crackers – Surprise guests? Whipping up a light snack is easy if you stock up on the essentials! I like to keep an assortment of butter crackers, water crackers, and whole wheat crackers.
  8. Olives – Used in a sauce or as a snack on their own, I like to keep Kalamata and Castelvetrano on hand.
  9. Tortillas – Again, maybe it is because I am a Texan, but tortillas are a must! White corn or flour/corn mix are my favorite.
  10. Nuts – added to a salad, used to crust fish or chicken, or just a healthy snack!
Top 10 Fridge Essentials
  1. Cheese –  Hard cheeses can last up to a few weeks in the fridge. Added to a dish or great for snacking, I like to keep a few good cheeses on hand.
  2. Salsa  – Serve with chips, use on eggs, inside of quesadillas, mix in with yogurt for a quick sauce, bake over fish & chicken.. literally can be used on everything.
  3. Better Than Bouillon- This lasts longer than stock and comes in a variety of flavors.
  4. Soy Sauce – Even in non-Asian dishes, soy sauce adds a great layer of flavor.
  5. Del Dixie Pickles – Great on their own or diced and used in a dish
  6. Lemons &  Limes – Good for more than just a cocktail!
  7. Bacon – DUH!
  8. Plain Yogurt – Yogurt can be used in sweet and savory applications, so keeping plain yogurt is a smart move. If you want a sweet snack, add a little honey and fruit or make a quick savory, herb sauce to top your fish or chicken.
  9. Fresh Fruit – This one is tricky because fruit doesn’t last forever, but it is a definite must have!
  10. Hot Sauce – Find a hot sauce you really enjoy and keep it stocked at all times. I enjoy Sriracha on just about everything.
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