It’s important to have a well-stocked pantry to make cooking a breeze. Below is a list of items I always have stocked in my pantry. Having these shelf-stable items available on hand, whether there is a national emergency or not, keeps you creative in the kitchen and ready to cook or bake in a pinch.
Be sure to also check out my very resourceful post on how to stock your freezer.
Being in the business of food, I always have a well-stocked pantry, and below you’ll see an example of what I mean by a well-stocked pantry. While I buy specialty items here and there for recipe testing and simply taste testing and variety, I love keeping the below pantry staples stocked at all times.
It gives me the peace of mind that I can whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert without having to run to the store.
Tips for how to stock your pantry
Before diving into the list, here are some things to keep in mind as you’re stocking your pantry.
- Buy most frequently used items in bulk: If your kids eat Cheerios every day or you make spaghetti once a week, always keep two boxes of the cereal and several packages of pasta on hand. They won’t go to waste.
- Keep a running list and check before you go to the store. Nothing spoils dinner plans like reaching for the EVOO to saute onions and finding half an inch left in the bottle. When the bottle is half empty, buy another. Treat your kitchen like a factory. Stock the parts.
- Think about versatility: A big container of old-fashioned oats can make Overnight Oats for breakfast, Oatmeal Cookies for the class party, topping for a Mixed Berry Crisp. Walnuts go into brownies one night and add protein to a salad the next night.
- Bring the flavor: Use store-bought condiments to spice up the everyday. Mix mayo and sriracha for a spicy topping for chicken or fish, a spoonful of sun-dried tomatoes with one pan pasta makes it seem like it’s from your favorite Italian restaurant. Specialty oils, like toasted sunflower oil, can lend a nutty surprise to basic vinaigrettes.
- Recycle to organize: a shelf of matching containers is fabulous, but mason jars or recycled glass containers like old pickle or jam jars are perfect for storing odds and ends. Visually more pleasing than a bunch of half-filled bags, they will also keep pantry pests out. A tip from professional kitchens: label everything including its expiration date.
Categorized Pantry List
Click on this link (How to Stock A Pantry) to print the below PDF check list. And below you can find more information about each category and some extra things to keep in mind when stocking some of these categories.
Oils and Vinegars
Olive oil is the the healthiest oil to eat and you should always keep it stocked. It’s versatile to be used for cooking or drizzled fresh on salads, hard boiled eggs or my labneh yogurt. It’s also a great idea to have some neutral oils for sautéing along with vinegars for salads and adding acidity to some cooked dishes.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Neutral cooking oil (canola or grapeseed)
- Sesame seed oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil cooking spray
- Red-wine vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
- White vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
Cans and jars
These are some of the longest shelf-life products you can keep in your pantry. So it doesn’t hurt to always have them on hand if you have the space. I prefer to buy my canned goods organic or at least ensure that they are BPA-free. When it comes to jams and jellies, look for ones that are just sugar and fruit or only fruit.
- Tomato paste
- Tomato sauce
- Diced tomatoes
- Broth (vegetable or chicken in a carton)
- Wild-caught tuna (in water or olive oil)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Canned coconut milk
- Olives (kalamata olives, green olives)
- Jam and preserves
Spices and dried herbs
These are all the spices stocked in my pantry that you will see over and over again in my recipes. Every once in a while, it’s fun to get a new taco seasoning mix or fish rub, but I recommend buying small quantities of those until you know you love it. As a Middle Easter blogger, some speciality spices I always have in my pantry also include 7 Spice, Cardamom, Coriander, Sumac and Za’atar.
- Sea salt and kosher salt
- Black pepper & peppercorns
- Crushed red pepper
- Bay leaves
- Curry powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Whether standing alone – think mayo on sandwich bread – or as ingredient, in other recipes, like adding Dijon mustard to a vinaigrette– condiments are indispensable in the kitchen.
- Mustard (dijon and yellow)
- Hot sauce & Sriracha
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salad dressing
Grains and starches
Dress them up or dress them down. These pantry meal heroes combine long shelf life with unlimited versatility. These are the ones I often use in my Mediterranean dishes and overall healthy recipes. Make sure to add the ones your family loves.
- Long-grain white rice
- Short-grain white rice
- Long-grain brown rice
- Pasta (spaghetti, penne, elbow, orzo, lasagne sheets)
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Freekeh and/or farro
- Boxed Mac n cheese
Beans and legumes
What is not to love about this fiber-filled, shelf-stable plant protein? Dried and canned both deserve some space on your shelf. Canned beans can last up to two years and some say dried beans have an indefinite lifespan – although cooking time may go up and flavor down after two years.
- White beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Fava beans
- Green lentils
- Red lentils
Nuts and nut butters
Nuts are great for healthy and satisfying snacking. Heart healthy nut butters go a long way in sandwiches or smoothies or on crackers.
- Almonds (whole and silvered)
- Roasted peanuts
- Peanut butter (creamy & crunchy)
- Almond butter
- Tahini paste
Dried fruit sweetens baking projects and is great for snacking when fresh is not available. We especially love dates and they have such a long shelf life, which makes it great for long-term storing.
- Coconut (toasted and shredded)
Produce (shelf stable)
Properly stored, these essentials can last for weeks. Make sure they are all well ventilated in baskets or mesh bags so that they last longer.
- Potatoes (Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes)
- All-purpose flour (white unbleached)
- Oldfashioned rolled oats (and oat flour)
- Almond flour
- Corn starch
- Arrowroot starch
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Instant dry yeas
- Vanilla extract
- Light brown sugar
- Dark brown sugar
- Cane sugar
- Maple syrup
- Chocolate chips (white and bittersweet)
- Cocoa powder
We try to change this up by adding something fun and new every time the kids go grocery shopping with me. But they can always rely on these essential snacks in the pantry.
- Granola bars
- Chocolate bar
- Cereal (not exactly a snack)
Seeds and superfoods
These add a nutritionally boast to loads of recipes, especially breakfast recipes and smoothies. It’s a great way to stay healthy when you may not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Ground flaxseed
- Cacao nibs
- Protein powder
- Collagen powder
- Maca powder
A well-stocked pantry is an investment that pays me back every day. I can throw together a quick dinner, mix up a simple salad dressing, or serve the kids an after-school snack without an inconvenient detour to the supermarket.
Stay tuned for next week when I share how to stock your your fridge.
Be sure to check out these helpful resources:
- How to Stock A Freezer
- School Lunchbox Ideas – even if you’re home!
- Daily Breakfast Ideas to Stay Healthy
- 16 Pantry Meal Ideas
- 15 Easy No Bake Desserts
- 10 Recipes with Vegetable Broth
If you find these tips for how to stock your pantry useful, I’d love to hear from you! And if you snapped some shots of your well-stocked pantry, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!