A well-stocked pantry is essential to answering the most important question of day, “What’s for dinner?”

Break the cycle of eating out, taking out, or driving through when 5 o’clock rolls around because you’ve got it covered with a well-stocked pantry. 

Here’s my list of Top 10 Pantry Essentials, 6 – 10. Find my list of Top 10 Pantry Essentials 1-5 here.

Delivered in David Letterman style, I’ll count down from 10.

#10

Oats. You might be surprised by this little gem until you realize that oats is one of the most versatile foods in your pantry. Certainly it’s a breakfast item, but, oh, so much more. Use it to top a dessert or as a binder for meatloaf. I much prefer oats to breadcrumbs for this purpose.

#9

Seeds and Nuts. These little beauties add texture and flavor to a variety of dishes and are just plain fun to eat. Pair them with fruit or toss them in a salad. Toast them in a 350˚ oven to first release their natural oils which enhances their flavor and crunch. Store them in the freezer to maintain freshness. Keep a variety of nuts and seeds on hand including walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds.

#8

Flour. Much maligned nowadays, but it’s indispensable for making rouxs, sauces, and buttermilk biscuits. If you’re gluten-free there are now lots of wheat alternative flours on the market.

#7

Rice. Love it as a side dish or the main affair as in a stir-fried rice. Cook it with water or broth, or any other liquid that suits your fancy. Dress it up with herbs, lemon juice and zest, or toss in some cranberries, raisins, or nuts. Keep a variety of rice on hand, including white, brown, and wild. Oh, and pass by those brands that cook in a minute. What you gain in time you absolutely lose in flavor. 

#6

Dried and canned beans. Often overlooked and perhaps not given the respect they deserve, beans and legumes, are naturally high in protein and fiber while being low in fat. Dried beans are the most economical approach. Cook them ahead of time and store them in the fridge. Drain and rinse canned beans of the gooey brine they are packed in. Make a bean salsa, toss them in a salad or soup, or make them star of the show.

White plate with a sage colored napkin lying the center tied twine and adorned with a single sage leaf. The plate is sitting on a wooden table with a fork, a glass, and a white bowl.

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