I stared deeply into my first blank pantry, like into a locker on the first day of school. But instead of fleshing the skeleton of shelves out with posters, I’d fill it with food. This used to be a task for my parents. A battle between mom and dad would rage in our kitchen closet. Dad stocked MSG-packed snacks while mom inched the Doritos out with raw almonds and whole ingredients. My diet was dictated. But now alone with an empty pantry, it was my turn to decide what kind of food I wanted to surround myself. What kind of person did I want to be?
My bank account scolded me for having expensive taste in bras and take-out food. More and more interested in a savings account, I began introducing products to the shelves. I decorated open spaces with all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, and salt so I could start baking pies. I invested in spices, not lingerie. I decided I wanted to be the kind of adult who cooks from home, nurtures herself, who is most of the time in charge of her own digestive destiny.
I walked through the farmers market hunting for taste like a lion after a gazelle. There was garlic. I had only known it as an invisible ingredient. The dish on the menu says it’s there, but it’s most of the time absorbed by something bigger. Sure, I was familiar with the word, the hints, but not so much holding it in my hand, stuffing it in my tote. I rummaged for quarters in the corner of my bag like a dog frantically digging up a buried treat and walked away with fewer coins but richer taste.
Good meals are in the details. Salt and pepper are the fairy godmother of the spice rack, electrifying a plate of eggs. Adulthood is in the details too. Manicured nails announce an attention to hygiene when extending your hand to an interviewer. Crown molding is just as important as “a place to sleep” in your apartment search.
I might still be clinging onto my pediatrician (unlimited free lollipops), but my kitchen is starting to look like it belongs to someone who at least has an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor too.
Below are the ingredients you should consider stocking up on to have a pantry that looks like you have your shit together. With all of these in there, you’ll be able to whip up that Pinterest recipe without much of a grocery list.