1. Beef or chicken stock
Homemade stock is best (save your beef or chicken bones), but the kind that comes in cans or cartons is surprisingly good for making soups and stews, adding flavor to rice or grain dishes, moistening casseroles, and more.
2. Vegetable stock
Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, you might sometimes want to make a soup or other dish whose flavor isn’t overpowered with the taste of beef or chicken.
3. Canned soup
It’s always good to have a few cans of your favorite soup (tomato, mushroom, whatever) on hand for a quick informal meal — but also for use in casseroles and other dishes.
4. White rice
The world’s most popular grain by far, rice makes a perfect easy side dish and is a popular ingredient for casseroles and even desserts — most of all rice pudding. (Brown rice is more nutritious than white and can fulfill all the same functions.)
5. Short-grain rice
Whether it’s Italian risotto rice (like Aborio), Spanish paella rice, or Japanese sushi rice, short-grain rice adds another dimension to rice cookery, and has textural properties that ordinary white rice can’t match.