I stock up on fish sauce, oyster sauce, hosin sauce, sambal chili, soy sauce, sesame oil, dried shitake mushrooms
You can use soy sauce, oyster sauce as a liquid marinade for most chicken such as thighs, boneless breast, or even wings. Try adding dried chili to give it a kick.
When I stir fry, I would mince garlic, sliced onions before tossing in the boneless diced chicken breast or whatever to want, even tofu. Then I would taste and add sugar or fish sauce as I go.
I am Vietnamese, so we only use mainly a few ingredients: fish sauce, sugar, garlic, onion, and thick soy sauce (our version of molasses for coloring). We usually cook things that have bones such as thighs on low heat and covered. Then taste and season. Not much ingredients to buy. We then cook our vegetable soup on the side.
Most dishes are economical esp for college students. Some are Pho (chicken and pork bones simmered for a long time until the marrow makes a broth sweet) then we would top it off with brisket meat, chicken or meatballs. Garnish with lemon, parsley and basil. Make it on a weekend and you have your meals made for a few days.
We also like to make soup dishes that are cooked for long hours but feeds a family for days such as Pho (pronounced fuh), spicy beef noodle, beef stew with french bread, etc. We also like ginger and lemon grass and tons of basil!