10 foods you need in your kitchen

The EatSmart column from the most recent USA Weekend┬álisted 10 foods that every cook needs to have in their kitchen. There are a lot of things that could potential fill up a culinary must-have list, so to narrow things down a bit, this particular list was composed with an eye towards eating smart – as you might have guessed from the column name – includes some canned/pre-prepared foods in an effort to combine convenience and health:

  • Fat free half n’ half
  • No-salt-added canned tomatoes
  • No-salt-added canned beans
  • Canned salmon
  • Dried cranberries
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Walnuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Canned hot peppers
  • Frozen spinach

I actually have all of these things in my kitchen, but I’m not sure that I would necessarily say that they were my most important staples. Rice and/or quinoa would probably make my list and I’d much rather have fresh veggies than canned salmon.┬áThat said, it’s certainly not a bad idea to keep these in mind when shopping because a lot can be done with them when you’re cooking.


  1. To me, this list looks like the sort of foods that aren’t kitchen must-haves, but are great for jazzing up dishes. Canned salmon or dried cranberries can make an elegant pasta or salad for when you suddenly have unexpected company.

    That said, I don’t really think that fat-free half-and-half is a great item to keep on hand. It’s basically half milk, half non-dairy creamer, which is all high-fructose corn syrup and chemicals.

  2. i saw this also and remarked to myself–well, i have most of those things all the time (the only thing i dont buy is the half and half). i would take off canned hot peppers (although i love them) and the half and half, and add good quality pasta and mushrooms, preferably cremini (because with both items, possibilities are endless).

  3. I agree with Jason about the fat-free half&half – it’s disgusting with its corn syrup and chemicals and not healthy, either. And unless you have heart disease or high blood pressure I don’t understand the emphasis on “no-salt added”. I guess you can add your own salt, but I think that’s just silly. Re-reading it, it’s actually kind of an odd little list because you can’t really make a meal just using those foods; there’s no rice, no pasta, no olive oil, no eggs. At the very least we need to add olive oil to it!

  4. Except for the half-and-half, I thought it was a list of things you could leave in your kitchen and always have on hand. I’d sub quinoa or millet, olive oil, and garlic for the half-and-half, tomatoes, and canned peppers, at the very least.

  5. Yeah, the half and half is a bit odd. But I have to disagree with whoever said the no-salt-added was weird. The average American consumes 10 TIMES more salt than they should. And take a look at the sodium content on canned products- through the roof. I didn’t even know they made no-salt-added for years, and when I finally caught on, I was amazed. It tastes EXACTLY the same, still lasts years, but with more than 1,000mg less sodium. I can’t help but wonder why companies still make salt-added canned products.

    I’ll step off my high horse now.

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