In the kitchen of Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest, she works with classic ingredients and encourages readers of her blog to do the same. Be it butter, bread, sugar, or pasta, the kitchen staples she relies on have been central to the cuisine of humans for centuries. 鈥淢y goal is to create a recipe that is delicious, colorful, and healthy-ish,鈥 she tells Brit + Co. If you鈥檙e looking for *realistic* cooking tips that fit into your busy life, Gerard shares her go-tos with us that you can so recreate.

Always, always keep a well-stocked pantry.

While Gerard won鈥檛 turn her nose up at a paleo recipe (there are plenty on the blog), she firmly believes in balance to cultivate happiness at the dinner table. As she put it, when it comes to bread, butter, and cheese, 鈥渋f you need it for your sanity, just do it.鈥 Her unbiased love of ingredients has taught her the value of variety and a well-stocked pantry. In fact, she says the only hack you need in the kitchen is a thoughtfully curated stock of staples. 鈥淚t鈥檚 going to save you,鈥 she insists.

Furthermore, Gerard explains that an ample pantry allows you to master the art of semi-homemade. 鈥淵ou can get good products at Trader Joe鈥檚, Whole Foods, or places like that,鈥 she explains. 鈥淭here are good products out there that can help you with the base of your meal.鈥 Gerard recommends keeping a store of roasted red peppers, oil-packed artichokes, high-quality pastas, and other quality marinated vegetables. She shares that a few key additions from your pantry plus a good sauce is the secret to your success, because it adds layers of flavor. 鈥淚鈥檓 really big on adding layers of flavor. I hate boring food; it鈥檚 no fun,鈥 she says.

Prepare ahead of time聽for simple cooking.

Naturally, as a professional recipe developer she has more time in the kitchen than most of us. However, Gerard views it as her job to do the experimentation and deliver tested recipes that are 鈥渟imple, basic recipes that have some sort of specialness to them.鈥 Having just that little something extra is what will make you want to cook in the evening instead of ordering out. To get that little extra somthin鈥 somethin鈥, don鈥檛 underestimate the importance of preparation. If you have everything thought out for the week by Sunday night, then you鈥檒l only have to go through the motions. Besides, the Colorado-based blogger points out, 鈥淚f you enjoy cooking especially or you just want to be conscious of what you鈥檙e putting in your body, I think it鈥檚 important to know at least how to cook the basics or at least put a really simple meal together, because it鈥檚 cheaper. It鈥檚 healthier.鈥

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(Photos via Half Baked Harvest)