Should you skimp or splurge? What staples are really worth their salts in that grocery aisle? Here are nine items to add to your pantry:
Nut oil - Spend some money on a good oil, but instead of choosing olive oil, try something a little bit different, like a nut oil. Pick up a walnut oil or a pistachio oil ($16.99) that has really good flavor from a reputable company, like La Tourangelle. Because they roast most of their oils, it will last longer than a raw nut oil. Be sure to keep them in the refrigerator or freezer if you plan on not using them often.
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Infused oils - Try an infused oil, like a high-quality Meyer lemon oil ($15.95). Drizzle a little bit of the oil on a perfectly roasted fish.
Vinegars - For true, authentic balsamic vinegar, choose balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. Balsamic vinegar ($21.99) gets better with age. You can drizzle on cheese, fruit, or even ice cream.
Finishing Salts - Think of texture as well as flavor when choosing finishing salts. A lemon flake salt ($5.50) will provide flavor and crunch to a simple dish like roasted asparagus.
Anchovies - It may seem a little displeasing to your palate, but stocking your pantry with anchovies ($12.29) is worth it. To add a savory note to roasted vegetables, crush anchovies and garlic together with an olive oil dressing, or try adding anchovies to your next Ceasar salad.
Mushrooms - In-season, fancy mushrooms can be pricy. Use dried mushrooms ($12.99) in place of rare or expensive fresh mushrooms.
Saffron - Avoid purchasing ground saffron and saffron-imposters. Buy saffron ($11.95) in its full-thread form. To get the best flavor out of saffron, grind it with a bit of sugar and water, and then add to your soup, stew, or rice.More on Yahoo!: 10 new ways to store kitchen necessities
Vanilla Beans - Look for fresh, pliable vanilla beans ($9.99). You'll be able to open it easily to get the little seeds inside the bean for optimum flavor.
Truffle Oil - Purchase truffle oils ($16.99) and salts from a reliable and reputable source, because sometimes, truffle oil is made with a gas that just tastes like truffles. Or bring home a high-quality, whole truffle. To store the truffle, bury it in short grain rice which allows it to breathe, and then later, turn the rice into a delicious, truffle-infused risotto.
For more cooking tips and tricks, check out host Aida Mollenkamp's book, "Keys to the Kitchen."
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