26 Common Cooking Ingredients to Make a Variety of Dishes

Cooking ingredients

A well-stocked kitchen and pantry facilitate healthy meal planning and eating.

By constantly keeping a few essential cooking items handy, you will find it easy to whip up a meal anytime.

But what cooking ingredients should always be available in your house?

Let’s find out.

1. Potatoes

Potatoes don’t perish easily. An advantage of this vegetable is that it holds up at room temperature, saving precious space in the refrigerator for other perishable items.

You can make French Fries, soups, hash browns, potato mash, and much more with potatoes. They are also abundantly available throughout the year.

Depending on your taste preferences, you can choose between different varieties of potatoes like Russet potatoes, Yukon gold, baby potatoes, Kennebec, butterball, and others.

The best thing about potatoes is that they last for several weeks if you store them properly in a cool and dry place with proper air circulation.

2. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another summer vegetable that holds up for a long time.

They are very versatile, and you can use them to make different dishes, including chips to mash.

Sweet potatoes are high in carotene, making them a healthy vegetable to consume.

You can store sweet potatoes at room temperature in the pantry for several days.

Just ensure they are kept in a cool and dry space with plenty of air circulation.

3. Onions

Onions form the base of several recipes for cuisines from all over the world. So, they are an essential part of any pantry.

Like potatoes, onions store well at room temperature for weeks at a stretch. Thus, it makes sense to buy them in bulk and keep them handy always.

There are different varieties of onions, like white onions, yellow onions, and sweet onions. Pungent onion varieties last longer than sweet onions.

When fresh onions are unavailable, the next best option is peeled or fried onions. Peeled onions last in the fridge for over a week.

However, fried onions can be stored at room temperature and directly added to various recipes to add a burst of extra flavor.

4. Tomatoes

Like onions, tomatoes are another essential ingredient for the base of various recipes.

But tomatoes don’t last as long as onions or potatoes at room temperature. You must refrigerate or pickle them to extend their lifespan.

Different varieties of tomatoes are good for different recipes.

Apart from the commonly available Roma and beefsteak tomatoes, there are cherry, blueberry, grape, and other tomatoes.

Canned tomatoes are the next best option to fresh tomatoes.

These store for a much longer time, and you can use either the store-bought or homemade version.

5. Peppers

If you regularly make Mexican food, you should always stock up on peppers. These are an essential part of dishes like salsa.

Commonly available peppers are capsicum, bell peppers, Jalapeno peppers, and Tabasco peppers.

Some varieties are sweet, while others are very hot and pungent.

They also come in different colors based on the species, like yellow, red, and green.

6. Corn

Corn is a versatile cooking ingredient. You can use it in a main dish or as an ingredient for various side dishes.

Corn on the cob forms a quick and delicious snack that you can make in mere minutes. However, it has a definite shelf life.

If you want to enjoy corn all year, it’s better to use the frozen variety.

The alternative is to steam and boil the corn and store it in the refrigerator for a week to ten days.

7. Cucumbers

With cucumbers, you can easily whip up a salsa or salad in no time. These vegetables are full of moisture, and hence a hydrating snack.

They don’t hold up for too long at room temperature.

These vegetables will also dry out if you do not refrigerate them properly.

So it is better to keep just a few cucumbers in stock and use them up quickly.

8. Squash

Butternut squash, pumpkins, and melons are useful ingredients for hearty home-cooked recipes.

Most of these vegetables are large. So you can chop them and refrigerate or freeze the excess.

You can use them in many recipes, and a single big squash or pumpkin will yield multiple servings.

9. Fresh Fruits

Fresh fruits like strawberries, kiwis, and oranges form healthy snacks. They are affordable when you choose fruits that are in season.

Citrus fruits hold up longer than other fruits. But you can always store perishable fruits in the refrigerator to keep them fresh for much longer.

10. Apples

Apples are some of the most versatile fruits that you can use for snacking, cooking, and even baking.

There are different apple varieties, each suitable for different needs and with different flavor profiles.

Varieties like the Granny Smith are sour and good for pies. Meanwhile, sweet varieties like Pink Lady and Honeycrisp are perfect for snacking.

11. Lemons

Lemons and limes are citrus fruits that find a lot of use in the kitchen. You can use them to make juices, salad dressings, cakes, and much more.

Fresh lemons can stay out at room temperature for a few days.

You should wrap them properly when storing in the fridge, where they store longer, but tend to dry out.

12. Tortillas

Tortillas for use

Tortillas are thin, spherical-shaped Mexican bread made from maize or wheat flour.

They are a useful side dish for vegetable and meat-based gravies, fillings for wraps, and curries.

You can use them as a wrap or instead of bread.

Storebought tortillas have a long shelf life and are a lifesaver when you must whip up a meal in a pinch.

13. Cornbread

Cornbread can either be made at home or bought from a store. It’s a hearty and nutritious meal on its own.

You can also pair cornbread with butter, onions, honey, cheese, soup, chili, or other items on the side.

It’s an item that you can enjoy at any time of the day.

While homemade cornbread doesn’t last too long unless refrigerated or frozen, shop-bought cornbread has a much longer shelf life.

14. Cheese Sticks

Cheese sticks are a quick snacking option that you can conveniently carry with you wherever you go.

They are perfect for lunchboxes and snack boxes. These are usually made of mozzarella cheese.

But you can find cheese sticks made with other varieties of cheese too.

15. Mozzarella Sticks

Mozzarella sticks are elongated cheese sticks deep-fried in breaded batter. They are a convenient and heavy snack.

You can prepare them at home by deep-frying mozzarella cheese in a bread-based batter.

The other option is to buy frozen mozzarella sticks and fry them to enjoy it as a snack or meal.

16. Cheese Curd

Cheese curds are chunks of moist, curdled milk. They are good for snacking. You can also use them to prepare various cheese-based recipes.

Cheese curds are made of baby cheddar. They don’t hold up for too long without refrigeration.

However, they can last for up to a week in the fridge.

17. Bread

Bread is a versatile pantry ingredient. You can eat it as such, toast it, or make it into a sandwich.

Bread can also be used to prepare breadcrumbs or croutons for soups and batters. It can be store-bought or homemade.

Apart from using different types of grains to make bread, it can also contain more nutritious ingredients like zucchini, banana, carrots, or nuts.

18. Cake Mix

A ready-made cake mix makes it very easy to bake a delicious dessert without having to measure or weigh ingredients.

You can simply mix it with hot water and eggs if required to prepare the liquid batter and directly bake it.

It makes the entire task easy and enjoyable.

19. Eggs

Eggs are another pantry staple that will help you whip up a quick side dish or even the main meal.

It’s essential for many recipes like cakes, pie bases, muffins, and more.

You can also enjoy eggs in multiple ways; boiled, poached, steamed, cooked, or fried.

20. Oil, Butter, and Other Cooking Fats

Oil, butter, and other cooking fats are essential ingredients for most recipes.

Whether you are tossing vegetables in a stir fry, baking cake, or deep-frying meat, oil, butter, and cooking fats are essential for the process.

Different types of oils are available, like coconut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, and corn oil.

Each has a different smoking point and properties. They can also be cold-pressed or refined, which affects their utility.

21. Sauces and Condiments

Sauces and condiments make it easy to create flavorful recipes.

While it may be impossible to stock up on all types of sauces and condiments, having a few in your pantry will improve your culinary efforts drastically.

Hot sauce, tahini, salsa, ketchup, tomato sauce, mustard, nutritional yeast, and honey are some of the common pantry staples in most households.

22. Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are essential ingredients for flavorful recipes. While fresh herbs have a finite life, dried herbs, and spices last for a long time.

Some of the commonly used herbs and spices include turmeric, cayenne, white pepper, black pepper, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, and rosemary.

23. Yogurt

Yogurt is a versatile pantry ingredient. You can make yogurt from scratch using milk and a probiotic culture.

You can also use the storebought varieties.

Different varieties like full-fat, skimmed, and medium-fat, apart from plant-based yogurts, are available.

It’s a good source of gut bacteria and is associated with various health benefits.

24. Lentils and Legumes

Lentils and legumes are long-lasting pantry ingredients that will help you create healthy and nutritious meals with little planning.

Most legumes need soaking before cooking. They are a good source of protein and can significantly improve your protein intake.

25. Pasta

Readymade pasta is easy to cook. It’s a good option for hectic days when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking.

Pasta boils quickly and works with a variety of sauces and ingredients to form wholesome meals.

There are different varieties like macaroni, fettuccine, ravioli, penne, and fusilli available.

26. Rice

Rice is a culinary staple in many cuisines around the world. You have both short-grain and long-grain, as well as white and brown rice varieties.

Rice forms the perfect side dish for both meat and vegetable-based main courses.

It’s easy to make on the stovetop. But if you use it all the time, the easiest way to prepare rice is in a rice cooker.

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