- Pantry staples are personal must-have food items that can vary from season to season.
- While I have my typical list of pantry staples I use all year-round, my foodie needs and cravings have changed during quarantine this year.
- From elevating my usual plain bag of pasta to adding more shallots to my allium haul, my pantry essentials have taken on some new additions.
- Canned tuna, olive oil, rice, Mallomars, chickpeas, pretzels, peanut butter, oats, honey, and golden raisins are all things I like to keep on-hand now.
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I was spending time with family when New Yorkers were ordered to stay at home in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, I spent three months with my siblings, my niece and nephew, and their family pantry.
While at their house, I developed a love for oatmeal, golden raisins, pretzel rods, and graham crackers. These pantry staples followed me back to my apartment in New York City. Now, in addition to some of my usual pantry staples like olive oil, garlic, and canned tuna, I've been relying on my newfound favorites to get me through 2020 so far.
If you're looking for some inspiration or ways to think a bit outside the box with your usual stockable goods, here's my list of 12 items I've been leaning heavily on this year.
Golden raisins are my new favorite sweetener for oatmeal, yogurt, and muffins.
Living in someone else's home opened my mind to a couple of new pantry staples. One that I've since adopted as my own is golden raisins.
These little yellow pillows are a great source of sweetness for my morning oatmeal or yogurt, and I've found that I love adding them to homemade muffins.
I've developed a love of oatmeal during quarantine, so now I always have oats handy.
I was never a fan of oatmeal — I think it was an aversion to the texture. But back in March, I was quarantined with my siblings who make batches of steel-cut oatmeal weekly. I started to rely on it as a quick breakfast option to which I can add whatever toppings I'm feeling, mostly cinnamon, honey, and some sort of fruit.
I've also been using honey more often than I normally do. I can't resist a good locally produced wildflower honey.
Typically I keep honey around for tea. But I've actually been going through a lot of honey this year as I'm eating more oatmeal and yogurt throughout the week. I also put it on apples or toast.
I truly can't resist a locally-harvested batch of wildflower honey. I've been visiting more farmer's markets this year and I always pick up a new container of honey on every trip.
Honey roasted peanut butter is always a staple for me, but I've had to restock much more often this year.
I go through honey roasted peanut butter very quickly. I put it on everything from toast to yogurt to — yep, you guessed it — my oatmeal.
I'll eat it with a spoon and some chocolate after dinner or dip some apples in the container as a mid-day snack.
Pretzels have become a go-to snack for me.
While I'm partial to pretzel rods, I'll settle for any type of pretzel that will satisfy my craving for something crunchy and salty.
I love how versatile they are. I can eat them plain, or dip them in something savory like hummus or sweet like frosting.
Speaking of hummus, I always have canned chickpeas on hand so I can whip up my own.
Chickpeas can be used to bulk up soups, stews, pasta dishes, salads, and more. But my favorite way to use them this year has been by making hummus.
It's super easy to make: Just blend canned chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and tahini together in a food processor. It's also great to keep in the refrigerator for when you need a little snack with veggies or as an addition to your morning toast.
Rice has always been a pantry staple for me, but I've been sticking with jasmine this year.
While I've stocked up on basmati or brown rice in the past, I've been keeping large bags of jasmine around lately.
It takes less time to cook than the basmati I usually have (around 15 minutes on the stove rather than 45) and I feel like it's a little bit more versatile.
It's been a treat to have specialty pasta at my fingertips this year.
Keeping with my habit of buying local, I've been stocking up at my favorite pasta shop, Borgatti's Ravioli & Egg Noodles in Queens, New York.
In an effort to bring just a little more excitement to my meals this year, I've been loving flavor-infused, homemade pasta. Borgatti's makes a lemon pepper pasta that I typically always have on hand (it pairs really well with crumbled Italian chicken sausage and white wine sauce), but they also have some seasonal flavors like the pumpkin pasta I tried most recently.
While I typically keep to my rule of not paying more than $0.99 for a bag of pasta at the grocery store, I'm always willing to pay a little more for something homemade. My Borgatti's order of around eight servings of pasta typically runs me about $4. I'd recommend checking out family-run pasta shops near you.
Mallomars are always a winter staple for me, but I've recently added graham crackers to my permanent snack roster.
Mallomars have always been a staple in my house during the winter months, and I think the part of the cookies I love most is their graham cracker bottom.
I've taken that love for Mallomars and applied it to a newfound appreciation for graham crackers in general. I re-discovered them with my early quarantine pod and I've been loving them this year. There's something about the comfort of a honey-flavored graham cracker before bed that's been giving me joy this year.
I always have ample delicious olive oil in my kitchen.
Olive oil is the main pantry staple in my family. I use it in some capacity for almost every meal I cook, and I love drizzling some over toast, fresh mozzarella cheese, or on plain pasta for a lazy-day dinner.
If I have alliums laying around, I know I can whip up something delicious.
You'll never catch me without garlic in my kitchen.
I use onions as a marker for when it's time to go grocery shopping again — if I'm running out, it's time for another trip to the store.
This year, I've been using more shallots than in years past. I either sauté them into a storable topping with tomato paste, cut them into thin rings and fry for a crispy topping on any dish, roast and blend them into a thick soup, or mince them for a dressing or chimichurri.
Tuna salad has been a reliable make-ahead lunch for me this year.
Whether I'm looking to make a batch lunch to eat over the course of a couple of days, or I'm just in the mood for a classic tuna melt, canned solid white albacore in water always does the trick.
There's nothing more frustrating for me (when it comes to my own kitchen, at least) than when I'm craving tuna salad and find myself out of the canned fish. So, I've made sure I always have some stocked in the back of my cabinet.
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