The building blocks of must-make meals start with four simple kitchen staples.
Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

If you’ve read recent culture-climate news, you know that Millennials are a scrappy bunch. We’re also a food-driven group, to a point where finding a good avocado toast has become the new American Dream. We’re fond of good, simple food: minimal ingredients with maximal flavor. Here are some of the top ingredients to keep in the fridge to round-out or build-up a whole arsenal of meals.


Eggs are one of the most compatible ingredients. They’re best friends with breakfast, and even play nice with lunch, dinner, and snacks. Eggs fill in both fullness and nutrition and take many forms so they never get dull. Fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, or poached (all about that jammy yolk) all prove delicious and satisfying for almost any possible quick fix. Let eggs patch the missing link of a breakfast burrito, an easy pasta carbonara, or egg salad for a school lunch throwback.

Plain Yogurt

One could view yogurt as undeniably plain, or incredibly versatile. Think of it more as a tool than a stand-alone ingredient. Keeping a quart of plain yogurt in your fridge will allow you to add thickness to soups and stews and easy assists to tender marinades. Plus, you’ll be halfway to a creamy dressing at a moment’s notice. You can also use it as a sour cream substitute with some fresh herbs and lemon or lime juice like in this taco recipe

Nut butter

Emergency dessert ration? Check. Out-the-door breakfast solution? Check. Turning a snack of fruit and crackers into something satiable? Check. Nut butter is a perfect speedy source of protein, a quick fix for texture, and everyone’s favorite salty-sweet go-to. Pro-tip: grind your own at your local organic grocer to still feel a sense of knowing where your food comes from. Oh! And this jar of nut butter from Costco is basically a steal.


A hunk of good parmesan is a home cook’s greatest ally. It’s reliable and even a little goes a long way to elevating a dish. Fold shavings into an omelet or that fancy carbonara you completed (see also: eggs), combine with rice for a shortcut risotto or elevate some store-bought tortellini. Use as an elevating finish to make grilled vegetables the star of the meal. Parmesan is a workhorse too that goes beyond just a topping. Using the rind to make stews and soups thicker and richer is a brilliant trick. It even does a good job on its own by completing a cheese board or #snackdinner, too.

So here’s to simplicity, creativity, epic foodstagrams, and not going broke. You’re welcome.