I've found that cooking really lets me be creative. This past week I've just been throwing together things to make meals without recipes. And I've learned that cooking and buying food for yourself ain't cheap.
I'm slowly learning what my pantry essentials are; not my mom's or my family's, but my own. In addition to little bags of bulk spices that I got at Whole Foods a few days before I left for school, I'm thinking my pantry essentials will look something like this:
Salsa. Food of the gods. (source)
New favorite snack?
Salsa + this. (source)
Chickpeas. Useful beyond belief. Hummus, soup, salad...the possibilities are endless. (source)
Mint chocolate. Not really a your traditional staple...but I find that mint chocolate is the most satisfying flavor of chocolate for me, even over just plain ole dark chocolate... (source)
Polenta. Truly versatile. (source)
Quinoa. I used to not like grain salads, but the one time I was swiped into the dining hall this year, they had this terrific cranberry quinoa salad (kind of like the one at Whole Foods), and I've gotten a major quinoa craving ever since then. (source)
I'm sure I'll be adding to the list sometime very soon...well, as soon as the paycheck comes.
What are your pantry staples?