Make over your pantry, fridge, and freezer this month with a master list of super-versatile ingredients that will change up weeknight dinner routine. These are your new go-to dinner staples, shaped by how we eat right now. This means more whole grains and produce, more bold flavors, and less meat and processed foods. You'll be surprised by what we've added (baby kale is your new best friend) and what we've left off (one bean is all you need). Check out our complete list and get started.
The New Essentials
- Green onions - Use the white for mellow onion flavor in sautés and the greens for a crisp, fresh garnish.
- Grape tomatoes - Perfectly portioned and packed with flavor, they have a longer shelf life than other tomatoes.
- Red onion - Pungent and sturdy when raw, mellow and sweet when cooked. It transforms according to your need.
- Celery - This classic staple is worth keeping on hand for bolstering broths and for crunch in salads.
- Carrots - Add body and a touch of sweetness to soups or roast whole for a delicious side.
- Poultry herbs - One package includes just enough fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage so that nothing goes to waste.
- Jalapeño peppers - Chopped, charred, or pickled, this pepper packs a punch for dishes that need zest and heat.
- Radishes - Quick pickle for a bright, crisp topper, or sauté for a mellow, sweet stir in.
- Microwave-in-bag haricots verts - A fuss-free veg that's ready in a couple minutes and plays well in so many dishes.
- Flat-leaf parsley - So much more than a garnish. Stir into grain sides and soups for freshness or use as the base of a salad.
- Presliced cremini mushrooms - No-prep, meaty, earthy mushrooms enrich sauces, sautés, and stir-fries.
- Baby kale - Sturdy enough for sautés, tender enough for fresh salads, and no stemming or massaging.
- Apples (Fuji, Cripps, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp) - Adds crisp, juicy, fresh notes to any dish, especially fall soups and salads, and keeps well.
- Sweet Potatoes - Stuff 'em, mash 'em, roast 'em. The possibilities for these nutritious spuds are endless.
- Parmesan cheese - Nutty and savory (think instant umami). A good wedge will last you a while and take any dish over the top.
- 2% pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend - A good mix of mild and sharp for all your melty, cheesy needs.
- 2% reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt - Besides being a breakfast staple, it adds instant body and tang like sour cream or cream cheese.
- Center-cut bacon slices - Just a little is all you need. Sauté vegetables in the drippings and sprinkle crispy bacon bits on top to turn a ho hum dish into something fantastic.
- Skinless, boneless chicken thighs - Rich and moist, they work in almost any cooking application, from searing to roasting and stewing.
- 90% lean ground sirloin - Use in burger steaks, meatballs, casseroles, and tacos. It's also ready in minutes.
- 6-inch corn tortillas - Beyond tacos, they add body to soup and can stand in for noodles in a stacked and baked enchilada casserole. They're also gluten-free and keep well in the fridge.
- 6-inch whole-wheat pita - Instead of loaf breads that go stale, use pita as your go-to. Top and bake for pizzas or make chips or breadcrumbs.
- Frozen green peas - Add a pop of sweet, green freshness to any dish, any time of year.
- Frozen steam-in-bag broccoli florets - Keep on hand for an instant side or veggie stir-in.
- Frozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined - We all need to eat more seafood, but getting to the fishmonger during the week is a challenge. Frozen shrimp keep well and thaw and cook in minutes.
- Quinoa - Your new quick-cooking starch. Did we mention it's whole-grain and gluten-free?
- Whole-wheat gnocchi (such as Gia Russa) - Change up pasta night with tender gnocchi—they can be boiled, sautéed, or simmered in soup to mimic pillowy dumplings.
- Whole-grain penne pasta - A great all-purpose noodle to have on hand.
- Sliced almonds - This fuss-free nut is all you really need. They toast quickly and can be used in place of pine nuts in pesto, in granolas, and in salads.
- 15-oz. can(s) unsalted cannellini beans - Mild and creamy, this bean can stand in anywhere you need extra protein, fiber, or body.
- Jarred roasted red bell peppers - Build a fantastic sauce or thinly slice for sandwiches and salads.
- 15- or 28-oz. can(s) unsalted crushed tomatoes - Skip whole, stewed, diced, or pureed. This can is all you need.
- Rice vinegar - Mild and faintly sweet, perfect for quick pickles, vinaigrettes, or a bright pop to finish a dish.
Cabinets are crowded with spices used once and then forgotten. These six essential spices build the savory, smoky, or spicy backbone for so many dishes and will be used again and again.
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Ground red pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Crushed red pepper
Some essentials need no justification; they are used so often and in so many applications that they're always worth having. You likely already have these twelve items on hand. If you don't or are running low, go ahead and restock.
- Unbleached all-purpose flour (or gluten-free equivalent)
- Unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Light brown sugar
- Lower-sodium soy sauce
- Dijon mustard
- 2% reduced-fat milk (or dairy-free equivalent)