Pantry staples: mommy magic & the essentials

Feeding a family of seven has its challenges. My biggest obstacle is having the ability to feed our entire family, day in and day out. Its not easy but with some helpful staples, I have been able to keep this family, generally, well fed for the past 18 years.

I cook seven days a week. This was the easiest way to stretch my husband’s paycheck as far as it can go. To feed a family of seven homemade meals, is significantly cheaper than eating out or getting take out. Don’t get me wrong, we eat out a decent amount of times a month but its not nearly as much as normal size families.

The essentials

It took me a few years to solidify the staples for our kitchen. What I learned over the years was that I actually needed to create two types: Asian and American. Since I cook all the time, I wanted to create meals that were diverse and highlighted our Filipino heritage as well as American upbringing.

I can proudly say that I cook cuisine from all around the world! This has allowed our kids to experience different cultures from the comfort of our own home. It has also helped them broaden their palate which I am very proud of.

Asian pantry staples

I know this list may not be 100% complete by other Asian kitchens standards, but this is what I absolute must haves in order to create dishes from our heritage and neighboring Asian countries.

Pantry Items

  • dried noodles
    • vermicelli noodles
    • bihon noodles
    • sweet potato noodles
  • chicken bouillon
  • halo halo mix
  • evaporated milk
  • condensed milk
  • canola oil
  • sesame oil
  • Spam
  • Vienna sausage
  • sinigang mix (tamarind)
  • achuete
  • fish sauce
  • soy sauce
  • Maggi seasoning
  • Asian vinegar
  • tempura batter mix
  • panko crumbs
  • whole white peppercorns
  • ground white peppercorns
  • black peppercorns
  • onions
  • garlic
  • potatoes
  • cornstarch
  • furikake

Fridge

  • oyster sauce
  • banana ketchup
  • hoisin sauce
  • garlic chili sauce
  • hot mustard
  • bok choy
  • yakisoba noodles

Freezer

  • homemade lumpia
    • shanghai
    • vegetable
  • longonisa
  • tocino
  • any meats on sale

American pantry staples

Pantry

  • sea salt coarse
  • ionized salt
  • ground black pepper
  • seasoning salt
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • honey
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • oregano
  • balsamic vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • all purpose flour
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar
  • powdered sugar
  • homemade vanilla extract
  • corn syrup
  • ground cinnamon

Fridge

  • ketchup
  • yellow mustard
  • dijon mustard
  • ranch dressing
  • bbq sauce
  • active yeast

Freezer

  • homemade bread crumbs
  • frozen bananas
  • any meat on sale

Mommy Magic

My parents were hardworking middle class American citizens. They always made sure we had what we needed and most of the time, things that we wanted. Food was never something I ever had to worry about because my parents were both great home cooks.

My mom was the queen of making do with what we had. There were many, many meals growing up that she made out of items in the fridge and pantry. If you were to ask her what she made, she would say I have no idea but it tastes good. She called it “Mommy Magic.”

The mother recipe

Through my experience of I’ve realized that Filipino food dishes have a base recipe. Similar to how the cajun cooking has the holy trinity. It usually consists of aromatics, a protein, and vegetables. The aromatics usually consisted of onions and garlic, sometimes a tomato and ginger. It is usually flavored with fish sauce/patis and chicken bouillon. This mother recipe has helped me create many, many meals for our family.

The recipe below is something that my mom made often. I actually have no idea if it a traditional Filipino dish. Nonetheless, it is a my nuclear family favorite as well as my own family. This dish is probably in our dinner rotation at least once a month. It’s an easy, inexpensive, quick meal. You can absolutely swap out the protein and veggies for what you have on hand. It will be absolutely delicious.

Upo with shrimp and ground pork

1 lbs. ground pork
1/2 lb. shrimp
2 medium size opo, peeled with seeds removed and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves – garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon – canola oil
2 tablespoons – fish sauce/patis
1 tablespoon – chicken bouillon
1 cup – water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute ground pork until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper
2. Saute onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato and saute for 3 minutes.
3. Deglaze the pan with fish sauce, water, and chicken bouillon.
4. Bring pan up to a boil. Lower to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Add diced opo and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until tender.
6. Add shrimp and simmer until cooked through.
7. Add adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and patis.
8. Serve over white jasmine rice.

Always cooking

If you were to text or call me, you know I am always cooking. Its just how it is with a large family. I hope this post inspires you to cook more meals at home or even venture into another cuisine. Keep pressing forward!

Stay healthy.

Remember – it’s ok to NOT be ok.

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