We get asked by friends and family, as well as readers about how to have a well-stocked pantry. I think of a well-stocked pantry, I do not think of one that is over-stuffed with items that I hardly ever use. Nothing bugs me more than opening a cupboard and boxes fly out. Our well-stocked pantry is full of these Pantry Staples that we use on a daily. I can usually go at least a day or two when returning from traveling and know that we can cook up something that is healthy and rewarding by keeping these items on hand.
The best way to keep a pantry well-stocked with the items you use all the time, is to replenish before they are gone. We keep a small pad of paper in the kitchen and as soon as we are almost finished with an item or just finishing, we note it down.
Our pantry is broken down into three categories: 1) Savory, 2) Baking, and 3) The Refrigerator/Freezer.
We buy some of our pantry items in bulk (marked with *) and only buy about 1 – 2 pounds at a time. Bulk is a great way to save money, and to only buy what you immediately need. We store the items in glass Weck Jars except for the baking items which we store in OXO Pop-Up Top Containers. We LOVE both products and they keep everything fresh.
If you have any questions – please do not hesitate to reach out.
** this has been updated January 2018 as we have completely revamped the way we cook and eat during the last half of 2017 – we are cutting our refined sugars and extra sodium. As well, we are making more of an effort to support out local farmers for produce and buy sustainable and grass-fed meats.
Savory – these are items that can make an emergency meal in no time.
- Lentils – lots of them in different colors. We like lentils, and they cook up quickly and can be enjoyed during breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Dried Beans – I always have a couple different types on hand that I cook, and then use in recipes or freeze for another time.
- Pasta – smaller pasta for soups on hand. Otherwise, we use fresh for mains.
- Popcorn – great snack and healthier than a cookie.
- Walnuts – Lenny loves to snack on them during the day, and they are heart healthy.
- Olive Oil – there are three different types I keep around. An everyday cooking olive oil, a high quality for salad dressings and a finishing one (right now it is a smoky Spanish olive oil) for drizzling over sautéed veggies, pizza, risotto or even eggs.
- Coconut Oil – great for sautéing veggies and making curries, as well as baking.
- Vinegars – We use rice, apple cider and a very good balsamic.
- Preserves – usually two, and no more than three types and they typically are always; raspberry (Lenny loves), wild blueberry or apricot (I love) and a fig or marmalade as both go great with a cheese plate.
- Tuna – a couple jars for last minute salads or tuna melts at lunch.
- Canned Beans – even though I prefer not to use canned beans, I keep a couple different ones on hand for last minute meals. I rinse very well before cooking with, and try to find low sodium ones.
- Hot Sauce – we love spicy and have a lot of different types in the pantry, to spice up life.
- Coconut Milk – great in curries, soups and baking.
- Rice Papers – for rolling spring rolls.
- Coffee – always have enough coffee on hand.
- Tea – an assortment of teas usually a strong black and green, maybe a herbal one too.
- Yellow Onions – can never have enough.
- Garlic – fresh is better than jarred.
- Shallots – use in salad dressing.
- Red Onions – for salads, tacos and tuna recipes.
- Potatoes – we have some potatoes on hand, a few russets and something fun like fingerlings.
- Spices * – I tend to reach for fresh herbs when cooking but I do like this brand Delphanie and Chole for dried herbs with a Greek flare. We like using the Just Cook seasons, especially the curry and taco seasonings. I buy small amounts of interesting seasonings at the Oaktown Spice Shop and right now we are loving different Middle Eastern flavors so our pantry is well stocked with za’atar, chilies, …..
- Salt – I cook and season boiling water with French Grey Salt, I learned this from my friend Kate and have never looked back. We keep fine kosher on hand for baking, use Maldon Salt for finishing a recipe.
- We always have fresh fruit on hand, the type is dependent on the seasons. That being said, I always have bananas as they are great as a snack or mixed with oatmeal.
Baking – there is always enough on hand to make pasta, bake a loaf of bread or whip up cookies without running to the store.
- Bread Flour – we are getting into baking bread this year and we are exploring different kinds.
- All Purpose Flour – great for baking and thickening sauces.
- Cornmeal * – enough to make cornbread or dust pizza sheets.
- 00 Flour – I use making pasta as well as pizza dough.
- Dark Rye Flour – bread baking and ramen noodle making.
- Rolled Oats * – to use in baking, makes a great crust for a tart.
- Steel Cut Oats * – we eat for breakfast once or twice a week.
- Sugar * – unrefined or coconut palm are our sugars of choice.
- Baking Chocolate – usually bittersweet and semi-sweet for baking or making fudge sauces for quick desserts
- Chocolate Chips
- Powdered Coca – for hot chocolates, baking and chocolate sauces.
- Yeast – baking on a whim.
- Knox Gelatin – for those panna cotta cravings.
- Cornstarch – thickening as well as making ramen noodles.
- Honey – there are three types in our pantry right now. Everyday honey, Mike’s Hot Honey (told you we liked spice) and a rich chestnut honey to serve with cheese.
- Tapioca – puddings
Refrigerator/Freezer – We are freaks about fresh food, so we keep a very minimal fridge/freezer with only items that will frequently be used. We hate spoilage or waste, so we only buy enough “food items” that will last a week, maybe two. Condiments, cheese, and animal fats have a longer shelve life; beware of expiration dates.
- Two Bottles of Water – for the Soda Streamer
- Whole Milk – only when there will be baking involved. We don’t drink milk or use in our coffee.
- Whole Milk Greek Yogurt – eating and sauces.
- Eggs – we use a lot of eggs as a quick protein for breakfast, baking and friattas
- Animal Fats – Duck, Pork and Beef for cooking
- Butter – good grass fed butter
- Ghee – I make my own using grass fed butter
- Cheese – hard parmesan
- Parsley – besides a great garnish it is really healthy for you, especially your joints. I use it often in salads, potato hash, tuna salad, as well as eggs. I try to put something green into every meal and this comes in handy.
- Cilantro – again thinking about green as I love to use this herb in salads, sauces, on tacos as well as egg dishes or even roasted chicken.
- Veggies – we stock up at the farmer’s market every week. Always have lots of kale, mushrooms and salad greens. Then a few of whatever is in season.
- Condiments – mayo, three mustards (grainy Dijon, smooth Dijon and yellow), soy sauce,Worcestershire sauce, capers and truffled honey (great with a cheese plate).
- Gochujang Korean Paste
- Cocktail Mixings – Luxardo cherries, ginger beer, tonic, and club soda. As well, as a few different simple syrups and/or shrubs or other mixers.
- Lemons and Limes – lots of both as I use for cooking, baking and in cocktails.
- Bacon – keep a pound on hand at all times as it is not only great with breakfast but also to use in sauces, meatloaf, potato hash, etc..
- Pancetta – for the same reasons as bacon.
- Unsalted Butter – for baking and cooking I keep a pound on hand at all times.
- Meat – I only keep a very small amount of some sort of meat for quick, coming home meals.
- Homemade Stock – usually only one kind at a time, either beef, chicken or pork. Can be used for soups, stews, braising and risottos.
- Bone Broth – usually one or two different types.
- Blueberries and Cranberries – I freeze fresh ones to use for baking and oatmeal.