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The Cupboard: Pantry Essentials

I love to cook, and I tried to be a chef once. I had the skill, but not the temperament. 

Imagine Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey six days a week. I really didn't have a thick skin back then, but I keep cooking as one of my pride and joys to spoil my family rotten at home.

Being disabled allows me to be creative, and all one needs are the basics. Here, I show you what should be in your cabinet at all times so that you can make delicious goodies and why they are important.




  • Salt
    • I prefer the grinder kind for the simple reason that some grinders can be reloaded. In this way, you can search for the cheapest salt after you have your grinder if the thicker stuff is on sale.


  • Pepper
    • Ground black is usually the better price. Sure, you can get the grinder kind for pepper, but pepper tends to be more expensive in my experience. It isn't bad to have a pepper grinder on hand just in case.


  • Garlic
    • Get it fresh. You can thank me later. If you absolutely have to get something for the cabinet get minced garlic. Garlic powder should only be used in an emergency because the sodium content is through the roof. I will have a recipe for oven-baked garlic that you wrap in tin foil.


  • Scarborough Fair
    • Always have a little bit of green herbs. Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are the usual go-to herbs to give your sauces freshness.


  • Cinnamon 
    • When you don't want to use deep sugars to sweeten something, go to cinnamon as it has many natural healing benefits. This is particularly true with breakfast dishes.


  • Minced Onion
    • This is a total cheat for those who hate cutting onions. It adds the onion flavor, but make sure that it is either soaking in some liquid, or you add water to them before you put them in. This should never be a substitute for true onion, but if you have veggies to cook or boil, they add an onion flavor without resorting to onion powder. Powder is a lot more unhealthy for you than minced, so unless you are making a spice for fried food like french fries, don't do it.


Utility Ingredients


  • Baking Soda/Powder
    • Why did I put them in the same family? Because you can turn baking soda into baking powder. It's a 1 to 2 ratio for baking soda and cream of tarter. You need to whisk the two really well, then slap it into an airtight container. Baking powder is a staple in cooking more than the soda is, but if you need to keep your fridge fresh, keep the soda in the back away from the food. The reason I don't put this in the baking section is because of the utility uses of baking soda.


  • Stock, Broth, and Bouillon Cubes
    • You can keep stock in dry storage as your needs desire. If you just need a base of something and you add the flavor, go for stock. If you need something with a punch, go for broth. They come in boxes, and if you find that your stock box is past its date, then you can go to the more handy bouillon cubes similar to a ramen packet only it's a lot more powerful. The cubes can be a fast way to make a meaty stew or soup taste extra savory. If you know you are going to make a liquid dish, please stock up on the boxes, they are so much better in the long run. The cubes are actually less healthy than true boxed stock, but if you want flavor fast, it's a great thing to have.


  • Bay Leaves
    • You can often use one to cook in stews or soup, but it is mainly a utility herb. Insects hate the scent of bay leaf, so it is best to tape one around places where you want to repel things. They can be put into flour, oats, or anything that might attract unwanted midnight food thieves. They are also great for foot odor if you put them under your feet during a work out.


  • Lemon Juice
    • Never use the bottled lemon juice for cooking. This is purely utility because sometimes things burn on your stove. If you want to make something like lemonade, use real lemons! Use this to clean up after a spill after the heat has cooled.




  • Flour
    • Everyone has different needs when it comes to gluten and what not. I actually recommend getting wheat flour when you can. Yes, it gives off a different taste, but it is the one of the few other kinds that can be healthier for you for a similar price to white flour. Remember, we are going "as healthy as possible" here. It is also used as a thickener and does a wonderful job of doing so.


  • Sugar
    • This is a tricky one because granulated sugar melts the best for candy despite it being a bad thing for your health. If you work more towards making barbecue sauce, go for brown sugar over white. If you want to make more of icing, go for confectioners sugar.


  • Olive Oil
    • This is the one thing you shouldn't compromise. Yes, you can fry with corn oil, but you can't do much else with it. You can have olive oil for your pasta and for salads. This is an all-purpose item that should be in your pantry that should never be avoided because other oils are cheaper.


Those are my basics! If you have anything to add, please leave something in the comments!



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Sarah Whitaker
Sarah Whitaker

From American Idol, to the Professional Wrestling Industry, I am an eccentric adventurer hoping to change reality between my spiritual views, and my knack for solving problems.

Cheap College Cooking
Cheap College Cooking

As someone who has been on the road a lot, I am here to show you the best ways to stay frugal about food. Here, you will find recipes and tips on how to keep from breaking the bank with your grocery bill. You can also learn tricks that are healthy and cheap.

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