- Eggs. I LOOOOOVE eggs. They're great for breakfast, for stir fried rice, for baking, and for use in the breaded [whatever] conveyor belt. Other options: egg salad, hard boiled eggs, "French" burgers (inspired by The Met Bar & Grill), breakfast for dinner. A great protein substitute if you're bored with beef or chicken.
- Cheese. I always have at least 3 kinds of cheese on hand: One sliced variety fresh from the deli, any variety of shredded cheese (usually Mozz or Mexican blend), and American slices (they're the best melting cheese).
- Salsa. Use it in omelets, on baked potatoes, or for unexpected guests (everyone loves chips & salsa!)
- Milk. I hate drinking milk but I use it for cooking occasionally, and for the ever-necessary late-night bowl of cereal.
- Sour Cream. It's just great on everything. Baked potatoes, pierogies, and Taco Tuesdays....bam.
- Butter. Duh.
- Condiments. My fridge is basically 70% condiments. I ALWAYS have the following on hand: ketchup, Dijon mustard, Italian dressing, Siriacha, Red Hot, mayo, marinara sauce (yes I consider this a condiment), Worcestershire sauce, and relish.
- Ground Turkey. Since I don't eat a lot of red meat, I use turkey in everything. I always have at least 2 packages ready to go. Uses (just a few): tacos, burgers, stuffed peppers, meatballs/sauce. We also have a ton of turkey bacon, too.
- Chicken Breast. So versatile. We stock up on the big pack when it goes on sale!
- Edamame. I stock up on the shelled edamame whenever I go to Trader Joe's. It's so versatile and takes 3 minutes to defrost. Great for Asian-inspired dinners and cold in a salad.
- Chopped Onions. The frozen bag of chopped onions is such a time-saver and super cheap.
- Frozen Veggies. I love using these for omelets, pasta dishes, and fried rice. We usually have the "fiesta" blend on hand, and a mix of the peas/corn or broccoli/cauliflower. The possibilities are really endless with these.
- Pierogies. I love Mrs T's pierogies because they come in a variety of flavors and they're a great meal alone or as a side with my next go to...
- Kielbasa. We eat a TON of this stuff (probably not the healthiest...but most of the time it's the turkey or chicken variety). Use in stir-frys, as the Polish do (see above go-to), or grill for a super-quick meal. Great for BBQs.
- Hot Dogs. Sometimes you just don't feel like cooking.
- Pasta. Whether it's orzo, cavatappi, spaghetti, or farfalle, I always have at least 2 boxes of pasta. It's like a blank canvass. Go cray.
- Canned Veggies. Corn and artichoke hearts are my favorite. Add to everything.
- Beans. Garbanzo (chickpeas), black, and kidney are the most common in my pantry.
- Baking essentials. Flour, baking soda, and baking powder, vanilla extract. More recently, chocolate chips. You never know when the mood will hit ya!
- Breadcrumbs. I use these to make home made burgers, and anything, well, breaded. Just a great item for your arsenal. You should keep regular and Panko on hand.
- Marinades. Always have an Asian, BBQ, and lemony one on hand. So easy.
- EVOO. Probably the most essential item in my whole kitchen. Self explanatory.
What do YOU always have around the kitchen? SHARE your pantry must-haves below!