By: Michellene Lagdameo
For most moms, the grocery is a happy place—there’s something so therapeutic about wandering the aisles and finding exactly what you need from your list. But there’s one particular aisle that can be polarizing: the spice section. If you’re not a culinary genius, it can be daunting to be faced by rows and rows of tiny glass jars with exotic names and aromas, and packets upon packets of brightly colored powders and pods. And since most of them don’t come cheap, it can take a lot of guesswork to figure out which ones to stock up on!
Here’s a short list of versatile spices that should make their home in your kitchen pantry. These spices can broaden your culinary horizons by pushing you to try out new recipes or cuisines, and you’ll rest easy knowing you’ll have a pinch of this and that at the ready whenever common recipes call for them, too.
This blend of herbs commonly used in Italian dishes is very handy—a dash of this instantly makes everything from pasta sauce and meatballs, to fried chicken and garlic bread, into restaurant-quality!
This is commonly asked for in dishes with cheesy or creamy sauces, because the deep nuttiness amps up the flavors. Here’s a pro tip: A pinch of nutmeg makes homemade hot chocolate absolutely divine.
This aromatic and flavorful spice gives great color and exotic flavor to everything from saucy meat dishes to roasted chickpeas (a healthy and addicting snack you can—and should—make yourself!) It also does great in dry rubs and marinades.
This warming spice packs a little heat, but blended with an unmistakable sweetness. Its rich brown-red color is as distinct as the flavor it gives to meat (use both in dry rubs, marinades, and mixed into sauces) and vegetables (add a dash before roasting for great results).
This fiery powdered pepper works well in Italian, Spanish, and Mexican dishes. It isn’t as red-hot as chili flakes or powder, but still, it’s best to use sparingly if your kids aren’t fans of hot and spicy food. But a shake of cayenne in bread crumbs for fried chicken, or a small pinch in your salad dressing, makes all the difference!
Spices and seasonings make food such an enjoyable experience, so don’t be afraid to experiment and think out of the box! A lot of moms enjoy cooking to de-stress, so let these handy spices be your best friends in the kitchen as you whip up one culinary masterpiece after another.
Mich Lagdameo is a mom to a precocious 1-year-old. She is a writer and editor by trade and calling, and she lives for books, leisurely grocery trips, cups of good coffee, long drives with her husband, and the Food Network. Her days are punctuated by the sound of her computer keys and her daughter banging into things.