What You Should Have in Your Pantry

I came across a news feature saying that the average single woman living along has one surprising feature in her pantry: instant noodles! How did this happen when women should be able to cook for herself? The answer is the modern career woman you see today, who might even be your boss. They spend so much time at work that when she gets home, the least thing she wants to do is cook for herself and clean up the mess afterwards. Eating would be the farthest thing off her mind when she thinks of chores. So instant-everything food it is! I should know this, because I was like this when I was a student and working full-time. To this day, I really cannot boast of good cooking skills too, but I can sure give you the mechanics of a payday advance loan, show you to do amazing things in Photoshop and give you a very graphic detail on how surgeries are done.

But you should always these in stock, because you never know who will come over (like your Mom!):

Whether for a family dinner or when you need to serve friends a quick and hearty meal, you can’t go wrong with a pasta dish. It simply is the complete one meal deal! Simply cook the noodles in boiling water for 8 minutes. While waiting for the pasta to cook, chop some celery, onions and carrots. Saute the vegetables in olive oil, pour in a can of diced tomatoes, add a dollop of tomato paste, season well with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes and there you have a good basic marinara sauce you can use to top your pasta with.

Canned tomatoes come in different varieties these days: stewed, diced, petite cut. But all these come in handy not just for pasta dishes but for pochero, afritada, and even for rice dishes like arroz con pollo or paella. This saves you time and money, especially when good, ripe fresh tomatoes cannot be found in the market.


Tuna isn’t just catfood anymore. It certainly has come a long way and now we even have tuna na “lasang corned beef!" Not to mention tuna afritada, tuna paksiw, tuna adobo and the whole line of tuna variants in the supermarket. But really, flaked tuna is one of the most versatile proteins – it can be used in omelets, pasta, or as a healthier substitute to ground chicken and pork in dishes like eggplant relleno and even burgers.


While olive oil is more expensive than the regular cooking oil, it is being used more and more by Filipinos in their dishes. It’s known to be healthier than the cooking oil we grew up with. And as we relish doing pasta dishes and salad dressings, a bottle of olive oil is a reliable kitchen mainstay.

Oyster sauce can elevate the taste of your ordinary guisadong gulay into new gustatory heights. When mixed with sauteed onions and garlic, as little as two tablespoonfuls of oyster sauce and some water, a bit of sugar, and cornstarch slurry can be combined for a delicious sauce to last night’s battered fried chicken or a few strips of beef.


At home, we prefer to do our own chicken broth with fresh ingredients, stored in the freezer and simply microwaved or heated up for use in our soups and dishes. We find it easy to make and totally without MSG. However, for those who don’t have the luxury of time to make fresh broths, some cubes or chicken powder are a convenient way to create a variety of comforting soups. As for our very own native dishes, a lot of us can’t find time to boil sampalok in our houses for our favorite sinigang. So a pack or two of sinigang mix is useful in every woman’s kitchen.

For most Filipinos, even if we drink them or not, keeping coffee and tea in our kitchen cabinets has become a habit. Having tea at home is good for a lot of things, not just for calming a rumbling stomach. A lot of our guests now prefer tea instead of coffee so we always have different types of tea in our pantry. Chilled teabags can keep eyebags at bay. But then, most of us are all still coffee lovers at heart, so we never run out of our favorite brand of ground coffee for brewing as pick-me-up for ourselves and our guests.

Surprisingly, none of those who responded to my little survey listed chips as a pantry must-have. I would like to take that as a good sign of healthy eating. But still, a few biscuits, crackers and bread are good to keep in your pantry as they quell hunger pangs in an instant. Just remember to choose crackers and biscuits that have less sugar and salt. For breads, whole grain is better than white.

Rich, thick, heavy cream has always been a delight to have at home for creamy soups and dishes as well as for making desserts and of course, the walang-kamatayang Christmas fruit salad. A pack of cream is, therefore, one of the things you need to have in your pantry. But the really good news is, the cream we’ve always known now comes in a reduced fat variety.

Flour isn’t just for baking cookies and cakes. The flour in our kitchen counter goes into soups, to act as thickeners instead of milk or cream. It also goes into making fresh lumpia wrappers, light pancakes and crepes. Flour is also a must-have for breaded porkchops and battered chicken and fish. So make sure you always keep a fresh box at home.


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