I don’t know about you folks, but when it comes to food, I crave variety. The story of how I came to love so many world cuisines is a story for another time, but I love cooking exotic dishes at home to save money and calories. I often take a dish I truly love (Chicken Tikka Masala for example) and adapt it for my home kitchen, lightening it and occasionally simplifying it. You can find list after list of normal everyday pantry staples on the old interwebs, so I won’t address those here, but I’m going to list some of the less standard pantry ingredients I keep on hand all the time to throw together healthy, home-cooked dishes that are packed with flavor.
These exotic basics should help you get a head start on cuisines like Indian, Thai, Mexican, and a variety of others. A lot of these items can be found in your standard grocery store, but to save money and get fresher ingredients, take some time to check out your local ethnic stores. I’m lucky enough to live in an area that’s quite diverse, so I have a choice of a generic Asian market, a Korean market, an Indian market and various Hispanic markets to choose from. If you don’t have these options, there are a number of websites that sell the more exotic spices, as well as your standards for far less than you would pay for McCormick (I avoid McCormick like the plague because of the prices, especially since Badia is so much less for the same items). I’ve personally used The Spice House and My Spice Sage for mail order spices with great success.
In the Cabinet
In the Fridge
In the Spice Rack
In the Liquor Cabinet
Add these items slowly to your standard pantry items and you’ll be cooking chicken vindaloo and pad thai in your home kitchen in no time!