Having a fully stocked pantry means you’re able to make meals on the fly when you think you don’t have any food around.  It also cuts down on grocery budgets (and the time you spend at the store). Below is a list of things I try to keep around at all times.

In case you’re curious, I like to store a lot of my grains and baking ingredients in Lock and Lock containers.

The Base for 90% of the Recipes in This Blog:
Onions (typically, I use yellow)

Extra virgin olive oil
Canola oil (neutral, and healthier than vegetable oil)
Toasted sesame oil (not great for cooking, but excellent for drizzling on the end of Asian dishes)
A misto/sprayer for oil comes in very handy, too.

Red wine
White wine

Rice (short grain, medium or long grain, brown, and any other variety you like)
Couscous (I opt for whole wheat)
Whole wheat pasta in short and long shapes (brand rec: Bionaturae)
Enriched pasta (hey, sometimes you just want to indulge)
Barley and/or Farro
Quinoa and/or Bulgur
Rolled oats (you can always pulse them to make them “quick” oats)
Cornmeal (I typically use yellow)
Panko and/or plain breadcrumbs (you can always add seasoning to breadcrumbs, but you can’t remove it, which is why I buy plain)

Tomatoes (crushed, diced, paste, sauce)
Broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
Beans (black, kidney, cannelini, garbanzo)
Lentils and/or split peas
Raisins, figs, or other dried fruits
Chipotles in adobo

Sundried tomatoes
Soy sauce
Fish/Oyster sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Salsa (because sometimes, it’s easier)
Salad dressing (because sometimes, it’s easier)
Pure maple syrup
Unsweetened applesauce (great for healthifying baked goods when used in place of oil or butter)
Dijon mustard (great for salad dressings and marinades)
Sriracha and/or chili paste

Nuts and Nut Butters
I use/eat almonds and cashews relatively quickly. The rest get stored in the freezer.
Pine nuts
Raw almonds
Tahini (sesame seed paste)
Peanut butter (I use natural)

Dried Herbs/Spices
Too many to list, but choose a variety. Some examples:
Mediterranean/Middle Eastern: oregano, rosemary, basil, thyme, allspice
Mexican: cumin, chili powder(s), cayenne
Asian: five spice, crushed red pepper
Baking: cinnamon, ginger, cloves

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper make a big difference, in my opinion, too!

I like purchasing my spices locally at The Spice House, but you can purchase them online from there!

AP Flour
Whole wheat flour (keep it in the freezer)
Corn starch
Baking powder
Baking soda
Sugar (granulated, brown, confectioners)
Vanilla extract
Almond extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Chocolate bars and/or chips

Various meats
Peeled/Deveined Raw Shrimp
Tortillas (corn, flour)
Ginger root (just peel and grate as you use it, and store the rest)
Wine (freeze it in small containers or a covered ice cube tray when you open a bottle and don’t use it all!)
Pesto (make a batch and freeze it in an ice cube tray before popping out the cubes and throwing them in a freezer bag)

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin December 8, 2008 at 11:21 am

Wow, this is so helpful! I had no idea whole wheat flour should be in the freezer, or nuts. I had been keeping my nuts in the fridge, but I think now I’ll move them to the freezer. Thank you!


Dawn Bowen July 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

So impressed with your site and recipes! I cook A LOT!!! and I have shared your site with friends for it’s ease of use!


elly July 11, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Thank you, Dawn! Glad to “see” you! :)


Karan Bisias March 27, 2011 at 10:22 am

I just discovered your blog and it is wonderful. I’m fasting now (greek lent) but as soon as it is over I will be cooking up your receipes. And your pantry list is helpful.


allie January 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm

What does the freezer do for the whole wheat flour? I had no idea that’s what was best!


elly January 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

It will make it last longer and is less likely to go rancid. If you go through it very quickly, a cool, dry cabinet is just fine but if you move through it a little more slowly, the freezer is your best bet.