(Family Features) It’s the time of year when the weather can be unpredictable, making a trip to the grocery store undesirable at best, or even outright dangerous. Keeping your pantry stocked with some basic necessities can help ensure you’re ready to hunker down and keep things cozy and warm in the kitchen.
Baking necessities: There’s nothing like baking to chase away a blustery day, so keep an ample supply of traditional baking needs on hand. Include all-purpose flour and sugar (white, brown and confectioners) along with baking powder, baking soda and common flavorings like vanilla and almond extract. If you enjoy making pastries from scratch, add a tub of shortening and don’t forget the nonstick spray.
Meal makers: A supply of rice, pasta and beans can make it easy to round out a meal no matter what type of protein and other groceries you have available. These can each be used to create an array of hearty soups, stews and noodle-based dishes to warm you from the inside out.
Simple sides: Keeping a well-stocked pantry means you can serve up great-tasting, Sunday dinner-worthy side dishes with every meal. Canned veggies and fruit are a start, but you can take it up a notch by adding savory side dishes such as Idahoan Signature Russets mashed potatoes, which taste as if you peeled, boiled and mashed them yourself. Sold in a convenient re-sealable pouch for freshness, they have a smooth taste like original homemade mashed potatoes with just a hint of butter and cream. They can be made in just 5 minutes using milk and butter, or, if you have to skip that run to the store, just water.
Sauces and condiments: Even the bare basics can take on an appetizing new flair when you add flavor with sauces and condiments. Jarred sauces like marinara and alfredo make it easy to bypass fresh produce and cream when you’re in a pinch, while mayonnaise paired with distinctive flavors like spicy mustard or honey let you build your own creamy sauces. An array of oils and vinegars can serve diverse purposes, from marinades to dressings to dips.
Other dry goods: If you’re uncertain what your spice rack should hold, you’re not alone. Even amateurs can tease amazing flavors out of everyday foods using the right spices and seasonings. For starters, invest in sea salt and pepper grinders. Garlic is another versatile staple; the powder is a good substitute when fresh or minced garlic isn’t available. Then build out the rest of your collection based on the foods you like best. Basil, thyme and oregano are common picks. Add some heat with crushed red or cayenne pepper, and don’t forget another versatile favorite: cinnamon.
Find more staples to help stock your pantry at Idahoan.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (father and daughter in kitchen photo)