What Are Your Kitchen Must-Haves?

I have a theory that pretty much everyone has a few idiosyncratic foods or ingredients they always want in their kitchen. And if you run out, you’ll make a special trip to stock up again.

Here’s my top three and you can tack on your own “must haves” in the comments.

1) Midel’s vanilla wafers

I love these things. You can dip one in peanut butter. Crumble them and sprinkle on top of roasted pears along with some nuts–they get crisp and toasty in the oven. And so on.

Tried Nabisco first, which I remembered from my childhood – either they’ve changed or I have, because they really, really didn’t taste right. Fed the rest to the squirrels.

2) Field peas

I grew up eating field peas in Mississippi, topped with a quick relish of chopped tomato, onion and hot pepper with a little vinegar stirred in. And served with cornbread. My mom’s cornbread was 100% cornmeal, no flour, no sugar, no baking powder or baking soda. Just cornmeal, milk, eggs, salt. It didn’t rise – it was only about 3/4″ thick and shall we say, “sturdy.”

broccoli3) Broccoli.

I actually love broccoli, especially roasted. Also brussels sprouts, roasted. Also cabbage, roasted. And all-day-roasted (!) tomatoes.

If you detected a theme there, you’re right. Traditional Southern families cook the heck out of vegetables. If you can’t tie a knot in that green bean, it isn’t ready to eat. Yuk. So I didn’t like very many veggies growing up.

And then…I discovered the broil setting, and dry heat! Truly a life-altering experience.

What’s on your must-have list?

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Leslie Nolen, Radial's president, is the nationally-known expert on the art and science of selling health and wellness.


  1. Mo says

    #1-Coffee. I don’t like to have to leave the house to get my mandatory cup of morning coffee. Besides, I like the way I make it better than any coffee house out there (fresh, strong). #2-Whole milk. Because I can’t drink my coffee black! #3-Toss-up between whole wheat bread and fruit. Any fruit, really. Because I’m fussy when it comes to eating at least one serving of fruit per day. But I also like to have toast or a sandwich, nearly daily, so bread is a must-have.

  2. says

    OK, here’s my PB&J twist:

    whole-wheat toast, fresh-ground PB from Central Market, topped with fresh blueberries instead of preserves.

    Also good with strawberries as a variant on strawberry jam.

    And the fruit flavor is much more intense with real fruit!

  3. says

    It’s only new. But my Vitamix is a must have. All my fruit and veggies in one delicious cup. My son won’t eat veggies, but Vitamix it and he eats spinach and carrots without knowing it. My daughter will have some and not skip breakfast before school. It’s changed the way we eat.

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