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Part four of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings

Wondering if you’ll ever use all those spices in that rotating spice rack? Probably not, and if it’s more than six months old, throw it out! Instead, build your own herb, spice, and seasoning inventory based on the flavor profiles and cuisines your family enjoys. Be careful though, until you’re sure you’ll use a lot of a certain item, buy it in the smallest quantity available (dried herbs and spices only maintain their flavor and potency for about 6 months).

 The following list is certainly not exhaustive, but rather a collection of things I keep on hand at all times. I do almost all of my primary cooking with these items and keeping them on hand also offers a variety of safe possibilities when I need to make a meal at a moment’s notice.

Dry Items:

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Black Peppercorns, Whole
  • Chile Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground Clove
  • Cumin
  • Dill Weed
  • Honey
  • Kosher Salt
  • Mustard
  • Nutmeg
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Rosemary Leaves
  • Sugar, granulated
  • Thyme

Cold and Fresh Items:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Brown Mustard
  • Celery Leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Onion, yellow and green
  • Worcestershire Sauce

Part three of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Baking Staples

This is obviously not an experienced baker’s list of staples, as I am a novice baker at best. Still, these ingredients allow me the ability to produce a variety of quick breads, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, popovers, cookies, granola, pies, cobblers, cheese cakes, and regular cakes at a moment’s notice.

I would love tips on how to extend my list as well as how to make it healthier and more natural.

Dry Items:

  • Unbleached Whole Wheat All-Purpose Flour
  • Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
  • Cake Flour
  • Rolled Oats
  • Corn meal (blue and yellow)
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Confectioner’s Sugar
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Baking Soda
  • Aluminum Free Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Clove
  • Yeast
  • Unsweetened Cocoa
  • Shortening
  • Canola Oil
  • Molasses
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Food Coloring
  • Nuts
  • Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Butterscotch Chips

Cold Items:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sour Cream

Part two of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

A note about buying fresh and seasonal produce: 

We prefer the texture and flavor of fresh produce, especially if it is locally grown. Buying seasonally helps ensure that you’re getting the most nutritious and flavorful produce possible. Seasonal produce has less distance to travel and that hopefully means it’s spent more time in the sun and less time in a packing crate.

Other important issues when purchasing produce: GMO crops and pesticides. You can start here to learn about genetically altered food and go here to learn about pesticides.

 Check this post for the reason why I don’t buy canned produce.

Year Round Staples:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Russet Potato
  • Garlic
  • Yellow Onion
  • Green Onion
  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato

Seasonal Additions:


  • Clementines
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Pears
  • Sweet Potato
  • Cranberries


  • Tangerines
  • Pineapple
  • Greens
  • Zucchini


  • Melons
  • Pineapple
  • Berries
  • Stone Fruits (Cherries, Peaches, Apricots, Plums)
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Corn


  • Honeycrisp Apples
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Cranberries
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Corn

Part one of a series of posts about the items regularly stocked in my kitchen.

Kitchen Inventory: Dried Beans and Grains

  • Black Beans: Great in hot and cold side dishes, soups, stews, and chilis, salads.
  • Small Red Beans: Used for red beans and rice, chili with beans, side dishes, soups and stews.
  • PintoBeans: Great for Mexican dishes like baracho beans, refried beans and burritos.
  • Navy Beans: The only way to make authentic Boston baked beans. Great for white chili, creamy soups, and white stews.
  • Lentils: Perfect for a low fat, high protein replacement of ground meat in any dish.
  • Quinoa: Actually a seed, but treated as a grain. Serve hot or cold.  Treat similarly to rice. Gluten free super food packed with amino acids, protein, and iron.
  • Couscous: Actually a rolled semolina pasta, but treated as a grain. Serve hot or cold. Treat similarly to rice. Packed with vitamins and minerals.
  • Israeli (or Pearled) Couscous: A larger variety of traditional couscous.
  • Brown Rice: More hearty and nutritionally valuable than white rice.

Five reasons I don’t use canned beans:

  1. Buying in bulk is a much better value.
  2. Little or no packaging means less waste.
  3. The average can of beans, depending on the variety, has anywhere from 200-560 mg of sodium per serving.
  4. Canned beans contain a myriad of chemicals used for both the packaging and preserving of the bean.
  5. We greatly prefer both the texture and taste of dried beans.

A note on the convenience of dried beans:

Many people think dried beans are less convenient than their canned counterparts. This is just not true! Dried beans can be soaked overnight in large quantities and then frozen in serving sized portions for later use. Defrosting them takes just as much time as opening the can!


10 Ideas For Leftover Ham


  • Diced ham, green onion, and Gruyere cheese incorporated into an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  • Replace bacon or sausage with sliced ham in your favorite breakfast meal.
  • Diced ham “hash” pan fried with onions, garlic, diced potatoes and a dash of salt, pepper, and dill. 


  • Diced ham and grated cheddar for a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
  • Cold ham salad with diced ham, sweet peas, diced swiss, apple and celery, mayo, dill, salt and pepper.
  • Finely diced ham, spinach, softened cream cheese, salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon juice mixed together and spread over a whole wheat tortilla.


  • Diced and mixed into homemade mac and cheese, topped with panko bread crumbs.
  • Diced and served generously over baked potatoes with tangy barbeque sauce, butter, sour cream, sharp cheddar, and green onions.
  • Julienned and mixed in with lightly steamed broccoli, garlic, and melted cheddar cheese. Broil for a minute to get a crunchy top.
  • Ham sliders on fresh yeast rolls, cut open and toasted. Served with a cayenne aoili, fresh spinach, a slice of mozzerella, and a slice of tomato.

Have you tried one of my recipes or do you have a cooking or food related question?

Do you want to know what to do with an unfamiliar ingredient or something you bought on a whim?

Great! Leave a comment and I’ll get right on it! I would really love to hear from you!

About the Cook

I'm a busy wife and mom who knows the value of a meal that can be prepared quickly. I prefer to cook with whole foods and you will almost never find a prepared food in my recipes or my pantry.

This blog started as a way to recall recipes that I've created and now I am excited to share them with you! Bon Apetit!
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