Cooking affordable meals should not mean buttered pasta and ramen noodles every dinner. With some creativity and experimenting, you can stretch even the tightest of budgets without compromising variety and flavor. But first, you will need the right ingredients; after all, isn’t a well-stocked pantry like a gateway to global cooking?
International Ingredients to Add to Your Grocery List
Even if you have a favorite grocery store, shopping at an international store can introduce you to a new world of ingredients. Consider stocking up on these international ingredients during your next grocery trip.
If sauces are already a staple in your kitchen, the sheer variety at your local international store might surprise you. You can find great additions to your typical grocery list. Things like:
- less pungent, darker soy sauces
- kecap manis
- mirin (a sweet, low alcohol content rice wine)
If you are tired of the regular hot and barbecue sauces, consider trying:
- Georgian ajika
- Chinese la jiao jiang
- Korean gochujang
No international grocery store is complete without amazing whole spices. With a cheap coffee grinder or pestle and mortar, and a little effort, you can blend some unique mixes. Although preferences differ, you could hardly go wrong with:
- whole cinnamon
- whole chili peppers
- star anise
- mustard seed
An adequately diverse kitchen should never lack onions and garlic. That said, if you enjoy umami-packed delicacies, consider getting some black garlic. Your favorite dip will never taste the same again without black garlic.
If your greens menu is in an endless cycle of cabbage and kale, a brief stroll down the produce section might expand your horizons. From bush okra to amaranth leaves and spider flower leaves, you can find a world of greens you never knew existed at an African store near you.
Tofu is among the best vegan-friendly protein sources. If you follow a vegan diet or simply love tofu, you will be pleasantly surprised at how cheap and diverse tofu is at international stores. Besides the firm varieties, you can find tofu skins, soft tofu and even silken tofu.
If you have tried making dumplings at home to no avail, prepare to be amazed by pre-made dumpling skins. You can find them in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors, ready for you to fill them with your favorite meats.
Adding international flair to your diet is all about trying things you have never tasted before. Make pomelo juice instead of orange juice, ditch sweet potatoes for roasted cassava, snack on prickly pears rather than strawberries, or add dragon fruit instead of mango to your fruit salad. Small changes like this can really spice up your meals and give you entire new avenues to explore.
About the Writer: Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being outdoors and researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.