The kitchen is a management project. Pots and pans stack up, the pantry goes bare, refrigerator contents age. One way to get a grip on all of it is to rationalize...what do you really, really need? What things make the pleasure of cooking richer? You need a plan.
In part one, let's talk about the pantry because it's crucial to happiness. The pantry is your savior, your comfort, your magic trick, and your ah-ha inspiration. If you don't have an actual pantry, that's ok. The pantry is an idea, not a physical space. Anything you've got that's a base ingredient of more than one finished product, things that polish up or finish dishes, or things provide the foundation for meals like pastas or rice are part of your pantry no matter where they're kept. (If you've got a physical pantry, that's a plus because you can scan it's contents just by turning your head instead of rifling through cabinets, like in my house).
Getting the Obvious Out of the Shopping List
At the very least, pantries ought to have staples like flour, rice, and sugar. But they also need to have flexible components you can put into other things like canned tomatoes, dried beans, and a few blue ribbon items like olive-oil poached garlic, truffle oil, and Tabasco.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing an occasional look at what should be in your pantry to make your life easier, your cooking more enjoyable, and keep budget and sanity in check.
Next up: seasonings to keep on hand.