Things I try to always have on hand

This post is a moving target. I’m sure I’ll add and remove things the more I learn and the better I become, but for now …


These are the things I buy on every trip to the grocery store.

  • Kosher salt. Based on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat I dropped all table salt and exclusively use kosher salt. #noregrets
  • Black pepper. I bought a real pepper mill and use peppercorns from Amazon or Costco. Yes, freshly crushed pepper makes a difference. I find myself using it more and more.
  • Lemons. Acid. All the time for everything. It wasn’t until my sister said “you use lemons in everything” that I realized that I use lemons in everything.
  • Limes. Acid. See previous.
  • Greek yogurt. I’ve started marinating everything in yogurt. Also, if your kids love the fruity stuff, just toss in some homemade jam and stir.
  • Eggs. Because eggs.
  • Heavy cream. A small carton will do. Some weeks it’ll never get more glamorous than my coffee, but other weeks I’m making something that always needs cream.
  • Whole milk. Relatively speaking I know little about nutrition other than the fact that everything you make for yourself is better than anything you can buy. It seems to me that one of dairy’s best features is fat. Removing it, specifically from milk leaves you with sweet water. Just drink water. Also, most other dairy products have to add garbage to make up for the lack of fat. Personally, I’ll eat the fat that supposed to be there instead of the other stuff added to replace it.
  • Chicken. I prefer bone-in skin-on chicken (usually thighs) but the wife does not. Either way, I always have some boneless skinless chicken breasts on hand and usually a small pack of bone-in somethings. These form the protein of many meals at my house.

These are the things I don’t need to buy every trip, but I’m careful to never run out of these.

  • Spices. I try to keep garlic powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, thyme, chili powder, and a few others on hand.
  • Onions. Typically I buy a 5 lbs bag of yellow onions. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a main course that doesn’t start or benefit from onions.
  • Garlic cloves. I end up using them more than I think.
  • Butter. Fat. I use both salted and unsalted. When quality matters, quality matters.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Fat. Sautéing and everything else. Costco. For realz.
  • Canola and/or Peanut oil. Fat. Frying, sautéing, and everything else.
  • Flour. Usually all-purpose and whole wheat. I find myself baking or frying at least once a week and need to have this on hand.
  • Baking powder. I use this in my pancakes and everything I bake. Don’t find yourself without any.
  • Sugar. Both brown and white. I try to buy brown cane sugar (as this is real brown sugar) but any white sugar will do. I don’t use white sugar much unless I’m making jams or baking, but I’m doing those two things often enough I need to stay supplied.


  • 8” chef’s knife. After watching videos, researching, and trying to learn how to cook, the overwhelming advice was to skip the knife set and buy the 3 knives that you’ll use. This has proven true.
  • Serrated bread knife. See previous.
  • 2.5” Bird’s Beak Paring Knife. See previous.
  • I recently took my chef’s knife to Eversharp Knives for sharpening. Unsolicited, the guy doing the sharpening came and told me that the above chef’s knife was the best knife at that price point. He said that every butcher (and many chefs) he sharpens for in the Twin Cities uses that exact knife and that I’d make a good choice.
  • Large french oven. I do everything in mine. I use mine to make baby food, jam, pork, chicken, blah blah everything blah. I use it enough that I consider it essential to have one. I have the 6.5 quart Kirkland one from Costco, but I can’t find it to link to it. I like that it’s not as deep as other french ovens.
  • Cast iron skillet. I do everything in mine. The adage is, “the more you know, the less you carry” and the extension of that is “the more you know, the fewer tools you’ll need”. Granted this idea is a bit minimalistic and not always the case, but in my kitchen, the vast majority of meals use a knife, cutting board, and my skillet. I’ve linked to the 12” but I have the giant 15” one as well. Both have their uses.
  • These pads are the end all of cleaning. I use them on my french oven, cast iron skillets, and stainless steel pots. You need these in your kitchen. They are magic and require little to know elbow grease.