Become a Better Cook in 4 Days!

Must-have ingredients to always have on hand in your kitchen pantry and refrigerator

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Keeping a well-stocked kitchen pantry (and refrigerator) is a great way to save time and money when it comes to cooking meals for your family.

Save Time

When you keep a collection of basic ingredients on hand – at any given time, and no matter how crazy your schedule gets – you can prepare a quick and delicious meal with only a quick shop for a fresh ingredient or two from the supermarket. Or, in some cases, you can skip the supermarket entirely – and make a meal from the foods you have on hand!

Save Money

When you keep a well-stocked pantry, you can also buy your favorite kitchen basics when you see them on sale at the supermarket. You’ll be using these ingredients in lots of your family’s favorite recipes, so you don’t have to worry about them going to waste.

Become A Better Cook!

A well-stocked pantry gives you amazing flexibility in the kitchen. It’s such a great feeling to open up the cabinet and know that you already have what you need to make a great recipe.

Have a variety of seasonings, sauces and other ingredients on hand also gives you the opportunity to tweak flavors and really make a recipe your own.

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Our Favorite Kitchen Basics

Below is a list of basic, versatile ingredients that we always have on hand in our own kitchen. Many of the items on the list below also have a long shelf-life – so when recipe inspiration strikes, you’ll already have them and can get cooking right away.

Below, we’ve also linked to some “back pocket” recipes that you can make at a moment’s notice with a handful of fresh ingredients and your well-stocked pantry staples.

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Dried Goods

We keep a basic supply of dried goods on hand in clear, stackable bins for easy organization – and so we can see at a glance what we have on hand, and what we need to buy.  Although these items have a long shelf-life, store them away from heat and light to maintain freshness.

  • Flour: all-Purpose, almond, gluten-free
  • Sugar: granulated (white), brown sugar, confectioners (powdered)
  • Breadcrumbs: plain or seasoned
  • Pasta: elbows, spaghetti, other favorite shapes
  • Rice: white, short-grain brown, basmati
  • Baking Basics: baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate: semi-sweet chocolate chips, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Oatmeal: whole oats, quick oats
  • Dried Beans/Legumes: black, white, lentils

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Spices, Herbs & Seasonings

As food bloggers, we’ve amassed quite the variety of dried spices and herbs over time – but below is a list of the spices, herbs, and other seasonings we use all the time in both savory and sweet recipes:

  • Salt: coarse kosher salt, table salt, sea salt
  • Pepper: We prefer to buy whole peppercorns and grind it ourselves, ground white pepper
  • Garlic Powder/Granulated Garlic
  • Mustard Powder (we highly recommend Colman’s)
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaf
  • Whole Nutmeg (freshly ground with a microplane)
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Vanilla ExtractKeeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Oils, Vinegar & Sauces

The oils, vinegar, and sauces on our list can be used in so many different ways. You can whip up a fantastic homemade salad dressing, deglaze a pan, or fry up dinner in no time when you have these items on hand:

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Canned/Jarred Goods

This collection of canned (or carton) goods is always good to have on hand for quick and delicious soups, sauces and more at a minute’s notice:

  • Stocks and Broths: chicken, beef, vegetable
  • Chicken Base (we like Better Than Bouillon brand – buy the low-sodium variety so you can season the recipe yourself)
  • Diced Tomatoes, kichen-ready Ground Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tuna
  • Coconut Milk
  • Salsa
  • Pickles (dill, sweet)
  • Olives (black, Kalamata)
  • Canned Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Optional: Jarred artichokes, roasted red peppers, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Fresh Produce

We always keep a supply of basic, fresh produce items on hand which are used to add flavor to so many different recipes. Some of these foods on the list are kept in the refrigerator, while others are kept in a cool, dark spot in our basement

  • Onions: Vidalia, Spanish, Red
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Lemons
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peppers: bell, jalapeno
  • Tomatoes: grape/cherry, salad
  • Potatoes: Russet, red, yellow, sweet
  • Flat Leaf Italian Parsley (even better if you can grow this live in a pot on your windowsill)
  • White, Cremini/Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • Nuts: Walnuts, AlmondsKeeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry

Refrigerated Items

You’ll need to watch the freshness dates on these refrigerated items, but this is what we always have on hand in our fridge:

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese: Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, mozzarella (it’s even OK to leave your mozzarella in the freezer)
  • Bacon
  • Vegetable Shortening
  • Peanut Butter (we buy natural peanut butter so it’s kept in the refrigerator once opened)

Keeping a Well-Stocked Kitchen Pantry - A Family Feast

Frozen Items

  • Meats: chicken (boneless breast and thighs), ground beef, pork tenderloin
  • Chopped Spinach
  • Peas
  • Fruit: strawberries, peaches, blueberries

Ready to Cook?

Here are some of our favorite quick and easy recipes made with pantry staples:

These are some of the products we keep in our own pantry

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  • Peter Cock wrote:

    Hi Martha
    I enjoy cooking ( took over from my wife 7 years ago) that I sometimes start prepping at 10 am our time ( frustrates my wife ).
    Oh – I am a forced early pensioner now and trying to grow my own veggies ( not too successful at the moment)
    In South Africa we do not get all the ingredients that are mentioned in recipes so I search the internet for substitutes. ( eg. you mention veg shortening).
    I am looking forward to how to improve my skills in the kitchen as the same old dishes become boring after a while. I experiment and have failure rate of about 33%.
    I can only get better

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Peter – Practice definitely makes perfect, and even we have failures in the kitchen (we just don’t share those recipes here on our site!). 🙂 Hope you’ll find some recipes to try that you’ll enjoy.

  • Luz marina wrote:

    Exelente, gracias por compartir tus recetas.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Luz – glad they are helpful!

  • Lorraine Ekberg wrote:

    Well Martha, I’m a lot like you. As a little girl my father was a food enthusiast. Her went only to the best restaurant’s. No matter the price. His comment was if I’m going to eat out it better be better than what I can make at home. Hence my back ground. At a young age my brother and I got interested in cooking shows. We watch Juliet Child, and James Beard. Yes we in our 60’s now. I waitress. Until my hands could not. And started cooking. Ended up cooking at a hospital. Now people do associate hospital food as good, but ours was. We even catered to senators and congress that came through our town. Yes I said that right. Now it’s all microwave frozen cooking. Sad.

    • Martha wrote:

      Very true Lorraine – and much of it isn’t prepared in a healthy way. Hope you are still able to enjoy home cooking – sounds like you have quite an impressive background! Thanks for writing to us today!

  • Jennifer S. Little wrote:

    Hi Martha,
    Would you be able to publish a link with the list of foods included on this page? It would be helpful to have a one page document that is printable. Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestion Jennifer – you are the second reader who has asked for this. I will add it to my to-do list!

  • Linda wrote:

    I would love to have your lists and recipes in printable form. I enjoy your posts.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Linda! All of our recipes have a print button at the top so you can print them in a formatted recipe card. We hadn’t thought about creating printables for this list…great idea!

  • Rose C Brown wrote:

    I was so happy to see that I have a lot of the food items already stocked.


    • Martha wrote:

      Awesome Rose! Great minds think alike! 🙂

  • Mimi wrote:

    Loved you fog jam recipe. I have a few trees that decided to produce this year. I tried a couple recipes and yours was the best. Thank you

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Mimi!

  • Lita Joy Murphy wrote:

    I always have a well stocked kitchen. With CORID-19, it has saved me grocery shopping issues. I actually have everything on your list but have others too like bread flour, corn meal and almond flour. When I buy any flour product (flour, cake mixes, rice, pasta, etc.), I always put it into the freezer at least for a few days to kill off any buys that may be in the packaging.

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestion Lita!

  • Ilene F Greising wrote:

    Thank you.. I’m a seasoned cook, but always like to get a different slant on FOOOOOD Prep, etc……
    Just wanted you to know not all the links to the recipes above worked.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Ilene – I just checked the recipe links at the bottom of the post and them seemed to be working (although I still need to double check all of the rest of the links). Were you getting an error message? If so, could you let me know what it said? Thanks – it would help us troubleshoot the issue.



    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Patricia – I think as long as your air tight container is away from heat (don’t store it in a kitchen cabinet near the stove or oven), you should be OK. We don’t freeze ours – but we do store it in a cabinet on the opposite wall of our kitchen, away from our stove. We also go through our bag of flours fairly quickly (within a couple of months) so it you only use it occasionally, freezing it might be another way to ensure that it stays fresh. Hope that helps!

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