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23 Ingredients You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen

Other than beer and cereal, obviously.

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1. Chicken Broth

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Soups are often the easiest, healthiest, and most comforting option, especially after a long day. You should also keep some chicken (or vegetable) broth handy to help thin out heavy sauces or add moisture and flavor to any recipe.

2. Tomato Paste

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Tomato paste is just a more concentrated form of tomato sauce, meaning there's way more actual tomato-ey goodness in that little can. Tomato paste is also mad cheap and it's great for pizza sauce, savory pasta sauce, or just punching up the tomato in any dish.

3. Rolled Oats

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Oats can be eaten morning, noon, and night, and you totally should. Not to mention they're super affordable and you can buy 'em in bulk. From familiar oatmeal, to cookies, to prize-winning meatloaf, rolled oats have got your back.

4. Nuts

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Nuts are great for your heart health, and studies have shown that people who eat a handful of nuts a day live longer, healthier lives. It also doesn't hurt that they're delicious, and can turn almost any recipe into crunchy, nutty deliciousness. Since they're a little pricier, chop them up to make a handful go a long way.

5. Worcestershire Sauce

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Believe it or not, Worcestershire Sauce is the secret to tons of your favorite recipes: Chex mix, juicy steakhouse burgers, and Bloody Marys. With ingredients including vinegar, molasses, and anchovies, this may not be everyone's taste, but a few dashes to any dinner will add the extra zing you're probably looking for.

6. Flour

For choosing something that feels as straight-forward as flour, you've actually got a lot of choices. Your best bet is all-purpose flour, since it's good for just about everything. Beyond baking, flour is great for thickening any liquids or sauces you're cooking with, or as coating for food when frying.

7. Eggs

A staple of any well-stocked fridge, eggs are perfect as the star of the meal or as the perfect, protein-packed addition. Here's a helpful roundup of mouthwatering and creative uses for these little ovals of joy.

8. Garlic

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If you're thinking you're anti-garlic, it may because you've been scared by recipes that have overdone it, something that is very easy to do. But these tiny bulbs of sugary oil are perfect for all your savory dishes as long as you keep your garlic love in check. Try roasting garlic for a rich caramel flavor.

9. Cheese

Whether cow, goat, or sheep, you can't really go wrong, but this handy infographic can help narrow down your choices. The key is to know what function your cheese will serve: Know what you'll use in sandwiches, what you like on pasta, and what you'll serve with fruit and bread to impress everyone.

10. Rice

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Rice (and carbs in general) get a lot of hate, but remember that you've got a lot of variety to choose from, and different pros and cons to each. You should stock up because it's super cheap, will fill you up, and goes with pretty much anything, not to mention all the simply and delicious Asian- and Mexican-inspired dishes you can recreate.

11. Ground Meat

When it comes to eating animals, the least expensive and most adaptable form is ground meat. Tacos, chili, burgers, lasagna: ground meat makes for the perfect weeknight dinner when you need something simple yet filling. You can change up the flavor by using ground beef, poultry, or pork, or by choosing a different fat percentage. Go ahead and freeze it if you don't use it all in one go!

12. Onions

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Onions are such an awesome, flavorful base for so many recipes that you should always have them on hand. Once you've mastered sautéed onions with your basic white or red onion, expand into the exciting world of shallots and scallions for different kinds of bite.

13. Herbs and spices

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No, not ALL the herbs and spices, but there are definitely a select few that will serve you well in the long run.

- Cumin: The secret to chili and tons of your favorite smokey, earthy dishes.

- Oregano: Makes everything taste like an Italian masterpiece.

- Cinnamon: The perfect crisply sweet addition for sweet treats.

- Cayenne: A staple for any Sriracha or Tabasco lover.

- Black Pepper: Every recipe ever calls for this.

- Kosher Salt: As a human, you need this.

15. Oils

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Cooking oils are great sources of fats that our bodies need to stay healthy and our food needs to stay tasty. Choosing the right oil seems intimidating, but two standbys for all your needs are olive oil and canola oil. Olive will take care of your low-heat, quick-meal demands, while canola can handle your high-heat, frying, and baking needs.

16. Apple Cider Vinegar

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You've probably encountered countless forms of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is the tastiest way to go. Vinegar in general is super tart, and it's useful for refreshing a dish that maybe got too sweet or too salty. Apple cider vinegar is a great staple because it does all this without packing in too much extra flavor, the way balsamic and rice vinegars are prone to do.

17. Sweet Potatoes

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Any food that goes in casseroles, stews, AND pie should definitely be in your kitchen. Packed with vitamins and fiber, these colorful roots will keep you cozy in the winter and cool in the summer.

18. Real Maple Syrup

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We all need something sweet in our lives, and maple syrup is a great functional and natural sweetener. Beyond pancakes, you can mix it into recipes that call for sugar, or drizzle it over fruit and yogurt for a little something extra. It's less sticky than honey and particularly handy if you don't need a giant sack of sugar taking up space in your cupboards. Just be sure to go for the real stuff.

19. Canned Beans

Beans, beans, the versatile fruit! /

The more you eat, the more fiber, antioxidants, and protein will be in your diet!

Catchy, right? The canned versions are way easier to store and to cook, and these vegetarian-friendly alternatives bulk up entrees and desserts alike.

20. Lemons

So simple and so cheap! Lemons are great for cooking fish and meat, as the acids in lemon juice help breakdown the raw flesh so yummy spices and juices can mix together. You already know it's refreshingly tart on its own, and lemons go perfectly with fresh greens and other veggies.

21. Tuna

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OK, maybe it's too smelly for the office lunch, but canned tuna is one of the cheapest and most flavorful versions of fish you can get. Loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, you can stuff it in a sandwich, throw it on a salad, or even add it to pasta. In fact, if you add it along with a hard-boiled egg, you can call pretty much anything "nicoise," which is awesome.

22. Frozen Fruits & Vegetables

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While a lot of frozen, processed crap deserves its bad rap, frozen fruits and vegetables should be left out of this nonsense! In fact, since they're flash-frozen right after being picked at peak ripeness, they may retain more nutrients that the stuff that's been shipped and sitting in the produce aisle. The secret is knowing which ones reheat well: Peas, berries, mushrooms, and corn all stay nice and crisp, which broccoli and carrots can come out a little mushy.

23. Wine

Cooking with wine might sound intimidating and fancy, but you can totally handle it. Just be sure not to cook with anything you wouldn't drink (looking at you, Franzia). And since you're already pouring it in the pot, you might as well pour yourself a glass, amiright?

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