Here’s a confession: I live in the South. Even more, I’m a Louisiana girl. We love our food, and our food has to have flavor. It just isn’t worth eating if it tastes bland. I keep tons of spices and dried herbs in my pantry. I love experimenting with different flavor combinations, and I feel that it is important to get my kids eating those flavor combinations as well. Back when I was making “third stage”baby food, not only did I make them chunkier, but I also started to add a little flavor in them. Nothing spicy or peppery, of course. I would add just a tad of cinnamon to applesauce or onion powder and rosemary to chicken. They loved it, especially my youngest child. Adding in extra spice really set my kids to transition from baby food to table food fairly easily.
There are at least 12 essential herbs and spices that should be in everyone’s pantry, not including salt and pepper. They are inexpensive and so versatile. You can make your own spice mixes with all of these, to which I plan to dedicate an entire post. I have so many more herbs and spices that I use, but these I use on a weekly basis. I keep sage around, but I don’t use it as often. The same goes for ginger and thyme.
So, go to your pantry and see if you pass the spice test.
Cinnamon– Great for both sweet and savory dishes. Gives sweets an extra kick, and pairs well with ethnic dishes, particularly Indian and Mexican cuisine.
Garlic Powder– A must for any and all Italian dishes. It’s versatile and is in most of my spice mixes.
Onion Powder– Another must-have, onion powder flavors up dishes with just an extra bit of onion flavor.
Dried Rosemary– This is beautiful on both chicken and pork.
Red Pepper Flake– Our biggest use for red pepper flake is on top of pizza. I use it to give many recipes that extra kick of spice.
Chili Powder– I use it in both my chili spice mix as well as my taco seasoning.
Paprika– A basic spice that should always be in the pantry. Paprika goes in most of my chicken dishes as well as in many spice blends.
Parsley– I put this in just about every single thing I make. I prefer fresh parsley, but dried always works in a pinch.
Basil– Always present any time I make marinara sauce or pizza sauce. It’s very fragrant and adds wonderful flavor.
Cayenne Pepper– Did I mention I am a Louisiana girl? I love cayenne, and I put it in so many things. It is present in every cajun dish I make. I have even put it in potato salad. YUM!
Cumin– This is a very strong and fragrant spice that I always use in Mexican, Spanish, and Southwestern style dishes.
Oregano– Another herb used consistently in all things Italian.
There you have it. These are my essential, must-always-have, buy-in-bulk herbs and spices. What are some of your essentials?