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Essential Kitchen Ingredients

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

There’s no OSFA approach when it comes to essential kitchen ingredients.

Everyone has a different cooking style – some love to create from scratch as much as possible, whereas others would prefer to avoid the kitchen as much as possible. Essential just depends on what works for you. To figure out what ingredients are essential in your kitchen, start by taking a realistic look at your current lifestyle

Do you make time for scratch-cooking? Get inspired here!

Does it work better for you to rely on a meal-kit delivery service? This section will help you fill in any gaps.

Are ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat meals more your meal prep style? Then don't waste any time and skip right to this section!


Essential Ingredients for the Scratch Cook


If you cook from scratch often, then you probably know your list of essential ingredients is very robust, including items like herbs and spices, oil and butter, garlic and onions. In fact, you might be reading this just because you need a little break from thinking. This should get those creative juices flowing!

Your kitchen is likely empty without a variety of vinegars, lemons and limes, canned beans, multiple grains including quinoa, bulgur, different shapes of pasta and different types of rice.

You know it’s always wise to have a fresh meat, poultry, or fish option ready to go for dinner tonight, and others in the freezer for the days and weeks ahead.

Potatoes are always a crowd-pleaser, so changing up your stock with different varieties can keep meals interesting: new, fingerling, russet, red, sweet potatoes (even though SP's aren't actually a potato, they basically apply here).

Salads in the spring and summer are a given. Try different greens every week. Don't be without your favorite toppings like nuts and fruits - fresh or dried; maybe a goat cheese, feta or crumbly bleu.

A hot bowl of soup in the fall and winter is rejuvenating. You can't go wrong keeping a jar of bouillon in stock if you don't have your own homemade stock ready to go.

Speaking of homemade stock, since you do a lot of scratch cooking, you might make your own yogurt, or bake your own bread. In this case, you’re sure to keep milk, and starter or yeast in the fridge, and flour in the pantry.

You may have figured out already that snacks in between meals help make life much rosier and cooking less stressful (and if that's a new tip for you, you're welcome - your life is about to get so much better!). Having fresh cut veggies, fruits, yogurt, cheese and crackers are items you and your family may love. Or tossing some frozen fruits in the blender with coconut milk or yogurt - along with other mixin's i.e. cocoa powder, nut/seed butters, hemp seeds, flaxseed, maca powder, matcha powder, raw honey, etcetera, etcetera - to make a quick smoothie is another tasty life-saver.

Pro Tip: As you write up the week's grocery list, it's smart to take a look at everything you have on hand each week, making sure your essentials aren’t getting too low, and that items are not going to waste.

Before you go, here's a free Essential Kitchen Ingredients checklist!

Essential Kitchen Ingredients
Download PDF • 26.13MB

Essential Ingredients for the Aspiring Cook


Simple ingredients like oil, salt and pepper, along with some healthy snacks like yogurt, fruits, and a few fresh veggies that you can quickly grab might be your essentials if you're using a meal-kit delivery service (MKDS).

Because most MKDS's fulfill mainly lunch and dinner needs, it’s smart to be stocked on breakfast ingredients. You might think eggs, bacon, sausage, smoked salmon, oats, granola, yogurt, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocado, cream cheese, or bread. Perhaps breakfast is the meal to show off your creative skills in the kitchen! After all, you’ve certainly picked up quite a few from your MKDS!

Keep some shallots, mini peppers and mushrooms on hand a couple times a month to add to some fluffy scrambled eggs. And that delicious red wine you have leftover from last night? Go ahead and use that to cook with the mushrooms! Can you keep a few potted fresh herbs around? Scallions, cilantro, and basil are versatile herbs.

Pro Tip: Take notice of what you get hungry for between meals, and what you have time for. Purchase what makes sense based on time and money: if you have the time and want to save on money, grab veggies and fruits that you can wash and cut yourself; if you’re short on time but have the money, just grab those that are cut already. Just know that those will spoil more quickly, and you might end up spending more time at the store anyway.

Before you go, here's a free Essential Kitchen Ingredients checklist!

Essential Kitchen Ingredients
Download PDF • 26.13MB

Essential Ingredients for the "Other Interests" Cook


Frozen and non-perishable foods are certainly your staples if cooking and washing dishes are the last things you want to do.

Just be aware that by choosing this route, you are exercising less control over what ingredients you’re consuming. There can be health risks involved with this as ready-prepared items typically contain more refined sugar, refined salts, preservatives, and fillers.

If you’d like to minimize those health risks, then it could be a good idea to be a little more picky with what items you purchase – and there’s usually a monetary cost that comes with that. Alas, such is life!

Having eggs in stock is never a bad idea. They're quick and easy to make in a variety of ways - fried, poached, scrambled, hard boiled - and come in handy for both meals and snacks.

Fresh apples, bananas, pears, berries, grapes, peaches, and nectarines are ready for the biting! As are fresh cut fruits from the store.

Prepared hummus, salsa and guacamole are ready to be dipped by crackers, tortilla chips, bread, pre-cut veggies (common on veggie trays: carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes). Some brands also make chocolate hummus which is a really tasty and healthy dessert with graham crackers.

Minimally processed deli meats, smoked salmon or canned tuna layered with lettuce, cheese, and tomato on bread or wrapped in a tortilla with mustard, mayo or dressing is filling, especially paired with a pre-made salad on the side.

Nuts, seeds (including nut/seed butters), popcorn, and veggie chips are tasty fillers for smaller snack time needs. Protein bars and protein drinks are helpful for slightly larger appetites as well.

Pro Tip: Don't forget jarred sauces for pastas and pizza for those times you're feeling adventurous in the kitchen. Round out those main dishes with veggies. Instead of heating frozen veggies, you might try cooking up some store-bought fresh cut veggies, or a pre-
made veggie dish. Who knows? You might soon be interested in moving onto a meal-kit delivery service!

Before you go, here's a free Essential Kitchen Ingredients checklist!

Essential Kitchen Ingredients
Download PDF • 26.13MB


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