Without a well-stocked pantry, cooking up an elegant meal to impress a date, the boss, in-laws, neighbors, or even just a few close friends can be difficult. After all, what good is linguine with clams without a bottle of white wine, lamb tagine without cinnamon sticks, or crème brûlée without vanilla beans? But, a pantry without the bare essentials means it's hard to do any cooking at all. It's probably easy to recall an awkward situation that went something like this:
Sally and Jane are contemplating spending a night in. They are in Sally's kitchen in her brand-new apartment. Boxes are still strewn across the floor, but most importantly, the television has been unpacked, and the coffee table and sofa are in place.
Sally: "I don't feel like going out tonight. Why don't we just stay in and watch a movie?"
Jane: "That's a great idea! I'll make my mom's famous orange spaghetti. What do you have in your cupboard?"
Sally: "Why, Jane my dear, I have everything you need!" Sally opens the cupboard to find mothballs and weevils inside. Awkward silence ensues.
Jane: "Hmm. I think we might have to order takeout."
Sally: "Yeah, let's do that."
Don't let this happen to you. Make sure the pantry is stocked with the bare essentials on our list, and the next time a friend comes over, they might just cook for you. (It's also nice to be able to pop something on the stove quickly after a busy day at work.) Check out the slideshow above for 12 essential pantry ingredients.