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How to Create the Ultimate Work Pantry

Tired of eating the same old boring food for lunch while you’re at work? What about stocking an office pantry

Tired of eating the same old boring food for lunch while you’re at work? What about stocking an office pantry with gourmet spices to jazz things up? Here’s a list of some essentials to have on hand. No pantry? Any old cubicle drawer will do.

1. Olive oil and red wine vinegar
Gourmet: Truffle oil and sherry vinegar
A splash of traditional or flavored olive oil can perk up any boring salad. Skip the mystery dressing and blend with your favorite vinegar. Truffle oil and sherry vinegar will make even a McDonald’s salad haute cuisine.

2. Pickles
Gourmet: Cornichons and pickled vegetables (like cauliflower)
Pickles perk up a boring sandwich. Pickled veggies provide vitamins and also healthy low-calorie snacking. Cornichons, are just the right size for a little bite.

3. Salsa
Gourmet: Black bean dip
Salsa is great with any kind of chip, or even tossed over a baked potato. Black bean dip is great for those late nights when you need a little protein as well.

4. Salt and Pepper
Gourmet: Sea salt and a mini pepper grinder
Add a little seasoning to your deli food. If you want to feel fancy, there is no substitute for fresh pepper and melt-in-your-mouth sea salt.

5. Spicy Mustard
Gourmet: Dijon mustard
Skip the mayo and add your own fat-free mustard, which adds just the right kick to your food. Add Dijon mustard to boring potato salad and egg salad to let the flavors shine. Chop up a cornichon and toss that in too.

6. Peanut Butter
Gourmet: Almond butter
Spread on crackers, baguette, veggies, frozen yogurt, and more. Nutritious nut butters will perk up just about everything that comes from a vending machine. Warning: Putting on a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup may be overkill.

7. Chocolate
Gourmet: Specialty chocolate bars and truffles
Chocolate doesn’t just fix a craving, it can be swirled into your oatmeal for a sweet treat (add a dollop of melted peanut butter as well and experience a little bit of 9-to-5 heaven). Green & Black’s makes some delicious organic gourmet flavored chocolates, like ginger and cherry.

8. Hot Sauce
Gourmet: Sriracha
A good old-fashioned bottle of Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot will perk up any under-salted soup. Try adding hot sauce to a simple tuna salad or chicken salad sandwich for a delicious experience. Spicy/sweet Sriracha will transport you to Thailand.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest