Staples To Have On Hand:
Every cook will have it at arm's length. Do you really know what you're going to eat for dinner when you leave for work every morning?
Baking, condiments, sides... Here's a list of dry goods, canned goods, and condiments, not to mention fresh vegetables, to keep on hand:
Beans (black, pinto, Great Northern...)
Dry Bread Crumbs (I like the Japanese Panko kind)
Chicken or Vegetable broth (I perfer the real thing as opposed to boullion. There doesn't seems to be a single onne without MSG in it.)
Chocolate (cocoa powder, choc. chips, unsweetened baking chocolate)
Corn Syrup (one of my cheats - I splurge on this since I eat so well everywhere else)
Canned Fruit (in water - contains less sugar)
Garlic (the fresh bulb)
Milk (condensed, evaporated, regular)
Nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)
Oils (olive, vegetable)
Onions (yellow, red, white)
Rice (especially brown - it's so much better for you!)
Sugar (better if you get organic sugar - it's not refined, and has a slightly better flavor)
Tomato sauce or tomato paste
Canned tomatoes (stewed, diced... better if you get the plain ones. The others, "Italian style", "Fire-Roasted" usually have extra not-good-for-you ingredients)
Vegetable Shortening (BUT! I like to use real butter instead. Check on the right amount to substitute.)
Vinegar (balsamic, white, apple cider, red wine, rice...)
FRESH HERBS I like to have almost all the time:
Basil (very easy to grow on your own)
Rosemary (this, too, is also easy to grow)
Other things I keep in the Fridge:
Milk (organic - I'm not into hormones and steroids. I've also read that fresh raw milk is best, if you can find it)
veggies: avocados (they're so good for you!)
green, yellow, and red peppers
salad greens: spinach, mixed lettuces (preferably organic, again, these get so many pesticides if they're not organic)
tomatoes (Roma tomatoes are usually cheapest per pound where I live, and they're pretty good)
salad dressings (I'm careful to select these, too: most have lots of high fructose corn syrup or MSG.)
Plain Organic Yogurt (not anything else! Others are LOADED with sugar. You can compensate by adding a little honey)
Fruit: apples, grapes, bananas, blueberries
* Have on hand two or three different cutting boards. Preferably one made of glass for when you are handling raw meat. The glass is easier to disinfect.
* When I say use a mixer, I mean it. Believe me, I've tried to be lazy and not lug that thing out, but some recipes demand it.
A blender is also handy if you don't have a food processor.
*Get a good set of pots and pans. I use a stainless steel set by Emeril Lagasse. They're not the most expensive on the market, but they're not the cheapest.
Don't use non-stick pots and pans. If they get too hot, the fumes they give off are carcinogenic. Yes, that means they could cause cancer. Too, every time you cook with them, that stuff gets in your food. Ick.
*If you have a gas stove, I envy you. I've had gas stoves before, and I miss it! You don't have to wait for them to warm up, and you don't have to move your pots around to take them off the heat. You just turn the heat off. Not only that, but a flame can get only so hot on a gas stove. I've burned so much stuff on our electric one because electric heat gets so much hotter, in my opinion.
*I never had a food processor until I got married three months ago. And actually, last week was the last time I used it. I can't believe I waited so long! There are so many things to do with it. For example, I cook a lot with fresh garlic, and sometimes it's a bother to have to mince it all the time. Now, I can peel a whole bulb (or two or three) at a time and put it in the processor. Then you can keep it in the fridge for later use. Not to mention it's great for making pesto and other sauces, even soups.