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Many of us are creatures of habit–especially when we grocery shop. We tend to buy the same cuts of meat, the same veggies, the same spices over and over again all because we find them familiar.

But there are a few ingredients you absolutely need to keep lying around in your kitchen. We sat down with the cast from A is for Apple (airs Mondays-Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. on Gusto) and talked about which ingredients are essential to have on hand at all times. And while essential foods are different for each person (who considers chocolate to be an essential ingredient?), there are certain foods that can definitely save you in times of crisis.

Shallots

This thin onion is key to adding an extra level of flavour to any dish. Whether you cook them or just toss them into a dish raw, they go well with practically every savoury meal you’re making. Don’t even get us started on how good they smell when you’re frying them.

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Fresh Herbs

Herbs like thyme, parsley, basil and rosemary can really elevate (or save) whatever you’re cooking. When you feel like your dishes might be lacking something, toss in a handful of fresh herbs, and that’ll probably do the trick.

herbs
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Lemons

All three of the cast members agree that every household needs to have a secret stash of lemons. When you make a dish that’s too sweet or too spicy, just add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and it’ll be good to go. Their beautiful yellow hue always did look to be a bit angelic.

lemons
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Meat Alternatives

“I like to keep different cans filled with meat alternatives in case I’m in a pinch and do need something with protein in it..like beans,” said Lauren Gulyas, one of the chefs from the show.

When you’re short on time, it’s still important to have a good well-rounded meal–so always have some beans or tofu in your back pocket. Especially since they require zero to very little cooking time.

tofu
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Sea Salt

Robert Jewell and Leah Wildman, two chefs from the show, think of sea salt as a handy tool everyone needs.

“Table salt’s really, really fine, and it’s iodized,” said Jewell. “Iodized salt makes things salty while sea salt makes things taste better.” In other words, this is the closest thing you’ll ever have to magic that’ll make your food amazing.

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

A is for Apple airs Thursdays at 8:30 a.m. ET on Gusto.