LIVING: 10 Kitchen Essentials That Will Transform The Way You Cook (& Eat!)

Whether you’re a meal prepper or casual cook, it’s always a good idea to have simple game-changing condiments, sauces & spices on hand to give an ordinary meal that extraordinary factor.

I’m assuming you’re not a savage and that you keep basic things like salt, pepper & ketchup around, so this list does not include such obvious essentials. Instead, I wanted to share some potentially unconsidered gems that I keep on hand in my kitchen and highly recommend to spice up your meals.

Here are:



1. Walden Farms maple syrup


I almost always have a bottle of this in my fridge for a guilt-free pancake topping, oatmeal and Greek yogurt sweetener, and also for various recipes that call for maple syrup.

Pros: Calorie free, tastes like the real thing, versatile
Cons: fake sugar, only available in certain stores


2. Taco Bell sauce


Laugh all you want, but a good sauce can turn a plain omelette to pure delight and dry chicken to a tasty dream. For hardly any calories, I find Taco Bell’s mild sauce by the bottle to be a super easy, cheap and delicious condiment to keep on hand for anything from breakfast to dinner!

Pros: reminds you of Taco Bell
Cons: reminds you of Taco Bell


3. Trader Joe’s aioli garlic mustard


I picked this up on a whim at Trader Joe’s once because aioli is one of those flavors that really sells a menu item to me, and I haven’t regretted it since! I put this on sandwiches, wraps, mix a dollop into salads, and use it as a dip for fish and chicken. 

Pros: versatile, unexpectedly delicious, major game-changer
Cons: only available at Trader Joe’s


4. Parkay spray butter


Because ain’t nobody got the spare calories for a tablespoon of butter, and I AINT GOT TIME for no dry toast/waffles. I spritz some of this stuff on my pancakes, waffles, toast and muffins, but I also use it to season fish before I bake it and also spray it on spinach as I sauté it. It adds just enough flavor without all the extra fat.

Pros: low calorie, no knife to clean, easy to use, versatile
Cons: definitely got some fake stuff in there


5. Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning


I’m not sure if this is an “everywhere” seasoning or if it’s local, but I use Cavendar’s on vegetables, fish, chicken, salads and even in greek yogurt to make a healthy yummy “dip.” 

Pros: delicious & super versatile
Cons: potentially hard to find


6. ranch powder 


I use this very often in conjunction with Cavendar’s, but I also love it as a mix-in to greek yogurt for a healthy version of Ranch dip/dressing! Conveniently, I’ve also found several Pinterest recipes that call for Ranch powder.

Pros: you will probably never run out because it’s sold in a large quantity, delicious, versatile
Cons: the container is kind of bulky


7. squeezable ginger 


I bought this when I was supposed to buy “minced ginger” and was hoping this would be an adequate stand-in. It was! It has helped me make so much Asian cuisine, and I truly had no idea ginger was such a dominating spice that I enjoyed so much.

Pros: very easy to use, easy way to change plain veggies to stir fry veggies
Cons: not fresh ginger


8. minced garlic 


I sort of feel like this is on the same caliber as ketchup in terms of basic-necessity level, but in case it’s not— getchu some minced garlic. I sauté anything sauté-able in minced garlic: veggies, spinach, fish, shrimp, etc. and it’s a super easy mix-in to a marinade! 

Pros: easy, cheap, goes with almost anything, HUGE flavor changer, no vampires
Cons: garlic breath


9. soy sauce


Much like ginger, soy sauce is essential to me because I cook a lot of Asian food. It’s also called for in various marinades. Soy sauce is one of those flavors I crave, too, and like Taco Bell sauce, it just really changes an otherwise plain meal for me. 

Pros: lasts forever, easy to find, versatile
Cons: high in sodium (which some people need to pay attention to)


10. cinnamon 


I know some people hate cinnamon, but I find it to be the single spice that instantly satisfies my sweet tooth. (Notice I said spice, not food. I really would prefer a Hershey’s bar if I'm being honest…) I put cinnamon on apples, pears, in applesauce, oatmeal and smoothies. It can take a peanut butter-banana smoothie from level 5 to level 11 in 2 shakes.

Pros: easy to find, versatile, sweet-tooth satisfier
Cons: looks like cumin

What spices/sauces can YOU not live without in your kitchen? Which ones from this list will you DEFINITELY be adding into your life? Let me know! I'd love to hear from you :)