Do you wish you cooked more, but every time you’re inspired by a recipe, the grocery list seems overwhelming? This is the number one complaint we hear from new-to-cooking friends: that recipes require too much stuff, and they give up. Well, fear not, hopeful chefs! We’re breaking down the essentials for you. Stock up on these items, and you’ll be ready to tackle any recipe challenge that comes your way.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil is the most versatile oil in your kitchen arsenal. If you’re only going to have one on hand, make it olive oil. You can use it for cooking, marinading and salad dressings. Basically, everything. Now olive oil isn’t called liquid gold for nothing — the stuff is pricey. If you’re looking for some decent bang for your buck, Primo Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a good choice.
Maldon sea salt
Okay, so you’re all thinking “Salt, duh. Good one, fourth floor.” But hear us out! Once you get over the sticker shock and start using Maldon sea salt, you’ll never go back. It’s made by a family-owned company in Essex (south-east corner of England) who use the traditional method of extracting salt from seawater with long-handled rakes. Cool, right? It is soft and flaky, and has a stronger flavour, so be mindful that you use less than you would table salt.
Soups, stews, risotto. You need chicken stock for it all. Now, the best stock is always, always homemade. Here’s a good recipe for making your own. If that intimidates you or you don’t have some spare chicken bones on hand or you’re in a rush, then Swanson Organic Chicken Broth is your jam.
The recent $30 million maple syrup theft has brought international attention to our nation’s most delicious export, but it’s always had a leading place in our hearts. It’s a great sugar substitute, and has fewer calories per serving than honey or corn syrup. Plus, it is the secret ingredient in our favourite salad dressing and it tastes delicious on pancakes.
You’ve got the salt covered, but what other spices do you need? While specific spice requirements vary according to the national cuisine (cooking Indian? Pick up some curry powder. Italian? You’ll definitely need oregano), a few stand out as general must-haves: cinnamon, cumin, chilli powder, sweet paprika, nutmeg and, the classic, black pepper.
Now you’ve got the basics, so time to get cooking!