Pantry item must haves

How often do you attempt your weekly food shopping trip, only to realize you’ve forgotten your list? Claire’s put together a “must have” pantry items list to help avoid the pitfalls of empty cupboards. With these items brimming the pantry, you’ll be ready to cook anything at a moment’s notice.


Peeled Garlic – I used to be opposed to pre-peeled garlic, but once I started cooking for large groups of people, I realized this is a huge timesaver in the kitchen. Grab a few cloves out of the fridge, pop them in a garlic press and press them straight into a pan with olive oil over the stove. It’s the great beginning to most dishes.


Chicken Stock – I would prefer to always use homemade, but when I don’t have time, boxed stock does the trick.


Red, White, Champagne and Rice Vinegars – Great for dressing salads or adding a little zing to a roast, braise or vegetable dish.


Olive Oil – Depends again on taste, but i like an olive oil that’s bright green and a bit spicy.


Coconut Oil – Some are more coconut-y tasting than others. Try a few and figure out which brand you prefer.


Unsalted Butter – So you can control the salt in your dishes.


Lemons – I would always choose meyer lemons for their sweet fruity flavor over a regular lemon. If you’re in the mood for something lemony and special, they’re worth the slight splurge. Keep in your fridge for a longer shelf life.


Potatoes- I like keeping a bag of baby red russets on hand. They’re easy to boil up and toss with butter, add to a vegetable roast, or thicken up a stew. Keep them in a cool dark place.


Onions- I use onions in most everything, sauteed, braised, caramelized, pickled. It’s handy to have a few yellow and a red or two on hand.


Tuna – The tuna packed in olive oil in a jar is a luxury to have on hand. It is more expensive than the common tinned tuna but the taste is noticeably yummier. It’s great for a Nicoise salad, which comes together quickly for an easy dinner. Save the tinned tuna for sandwiches.


Nuts – Walnuts, cashews, macadamia, and pistachio nuts are all great options for healthy snacking as well as crunchy additions to salads.


Diamond Brand Kosher Salt – The salt granules are the perfect size, not too small, not too big.


Black Pepper – Use a pepper grinder. It’s much tastier than the pre-ground stuff.


Spices – Cumin, coriander, paprika (hot and mild), red chili flakes, cinnamon, chili powder, garlic powder.


Broccoli – It’s the perfect vegetable to always have in the fridge. Look for firm florets.




Brown Sugar




Dry Pasta – I love all the Barilla shapes. Each version holds sauce differently, and it mixes up the dinner routine when a new shape is brought to the table.

Canned Whole, Peeled Tomatoes – San Marzano tomatoes are great to have on hand for a quick tomato sauce, to help pull together a quick casserole, or to add to a braise.

Claire Handleman has been a chef in New York for 10 years, working at some of the city’s best restaurants. She previously worked on ABC’s Emmy-award winning show The Chew as an assistant producer and participated in Food Network’s Chopped competition…and won.Claire has been traveling the world for the past dozen years but focuses a majority of her time in South-East Asia. She has come to regard Thailand as a second home and spends many months each year learning Thai cuisine. She is currently working on a book with the hopes of sharing the incredible cuisine her Thai friends have shared with her. While she travels and works, she shares stories, recipes and travel tips on her blog Passport to Eat.


Molly England earned her master’s degree in social work at The University of Edinburgh. She currently lives in The Woodlands, Texas with her husband and their three children. She is a devoted blogger and a passionate Certified Bradley Method® Natural Childbirth Educator. In 2015 Molly founded Bluebonnet Babies, a virtual hub providing products and resources based on evidence, research, experience and love to parents making healthy and informed choices. Blogging enables Molly to achieve her goal of empowering families across the globe as they navigate pregnancy to parenthood. Her work has appeared in Holistic Parenting Magazine, the Pathways to Family Wellness Blog and more. Molly’s article on birth plans is featured in Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine’s February Issue. Visit

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