Stocking the Pantry

If you want to be prepared for anything, here’s what you need to have on hand.

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You never know when you'll need to throw together a meal at a moment's notice, and the status of your pantry could determine how successful you are. Here are the essentials of a well-stocked pantry:

• Tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato puree and diced tomatoes. You can use them for making a sauce or adding to a sausage-and-peppers dish.

• Canned beans. They can be added to a salad for an inexpensive protein source. Have a variety on hand.

• A can or two of tuna.

• Canned broth, either beef or chicken. It's great for a quick soup or for deglazing a pan.

• Several types of oils and other liquids, such as olive oil, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and Dijon mustard.

• All-purpose flour in a resealable container with scoop. Add a piece of peppermint gum to the container to keep away mealy bugs. It won't flavor the flour.

• Granulated sugar in an airtight container. Add a vanilla bean for a subtle flavor if you prefer.

• Brown sugar in a resealable bag. Add a fresh apple slice to the bag to keep the sugar from hardening.

• Cornmeal.

• Flavored bread crumbs.

• Cornstarch.

• Powdered sugar.

• Baking soda.

• Chocolate chips.

• Rice in an airtight, labeled container.

• Pasta in an airtight, labeled container.

• Herbs and spices. Salt, pepper, bay leaves and chili powder are key. Keep herbs and spices stored in a dark, dry place.

• Whole garlic bulbs (use immediately if they sprout).

• Potatoes.

• Onions.

• Oatmeal.

• Evaporated milk, which can be used in many recipes as a substitute for milk.

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