How to stock a kitchen pantry

Save money and cook great food with these kitchen pantry staples

Astronaut Images / Getty Images

How many times have you opened your kitchen pantry and wondered, “What’s for dinner?” With a stocked kitchen pantry, you won’t have to wonder. Make cooking and meal planning easier and save money on groceries by spotting sales on your basics. Have everything you need on-hand with must-have essentials for stocking a pantry that help you savor mealtime with your family.

Herbs and Spices

Paying full price for herbs and spices is expensive. Grow your own herbs or keep an eye on sales to save money. With a variety of herbs and spices on hand, you can cook savory soups, mouth-watering pot roast and season all of your favorite foods to your taste.

Herbs and spices for your kitchen pantry:

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Beef Bouillon
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Celery Salt
  • Chicken Bouillon
  • Chili Powder
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Curry Powder
  • Fennel
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ginger
  • Minced Garlic
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peppercorns
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Rubbed Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Savory
  • Thyme

Baking Supplies

Whip up a batch of cookies on a moment’s notice. Bake banana bread the kids will devour. Sweeten your ham or cook the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten.

Baking supplies for your kitchen pantry:

  • Almond Extract
  • Baker's Chocolate
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Brown Sugar
  • Confectioner's Sugar
  • Corn Meal
  • Corn Syrup
  • Cornstarch
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Flour
  • Oatmeal
  • Vanilla Extract
  • White Sugar
  • Yeast

Liquids

Mix your own salad dressing, make marinades for your meats or keep your pork chops from burning in the skillet.

Liquids for your kitchen pantry:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Canola Oil
  • Cooking Spray
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Cooking Wine
  • Vegetable Oil
  • White Cooking Wine
  • White Vinegar

Sauces and Condiments

Homemade sauces are ideal but not always possible to make without a lot of prep time. Store-bought sauces and condiments have a long shelf life and add lots of flavor to everyday recipes.

Sauces and condiments for your kitchen pantry:

  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Honey
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Marinades
  • Mustard
  • Pepper
  • Salad Dressing
  • Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Steak Sauce
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce

Special Seasonings

Many foods you probably prepare from scratch are available as special seasonings. When you're in a pinch, these pouches can shave up to an hour off of the time you spend on dinner.

Special seasonings for your kitchen pantry:

  • Chili Mix
  • Gravy Packets
  • Marinade Mixes
  • Salad Dressing Mix
  • Stew Mix
  • Stroganoff Mix
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Vegetable Seasoning Packets

Cans and Jars

Canned and jarred goods make your kitchen pantry an instant source of vegetables, fruits and proteins. Busy cooks can also use canned goods for stews and casseroles.

Cans and jars for your kitchen pantry:

  • Applesauce
  • Baked Beans
  • Black-Eyed Peas
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Tuna
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Fruits, such as canned peaches and fruit cocktail
  • Green Beans
  • Peanut Butter
  • Peas
  • Soups, especially cream soups for casseroles and broths
  • Tomatoes

Packaged Goods

Storing packaged goods covers all bases—from hot breakfasts on the table in minutes to afternoon snacks the kids can eat when they get home from school.

Packaged goods for your kitchen pantry:

  • Biscuit Mix
  • Brownie Mix
  • Cake Mix
  • Cereal
  • Cereal Bars
  • Chips
  • Coffee
  • Crackers
  • Gelatin
  • Granola Bars
  • Hot Chocolate Mix
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • Instant Pudding
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Muffin Mix
  • Nuts
  • Pancake Mix
  • Salsa
  • Stuffing Mix
  • Taco Shells

Pasta and Rice

Look like you spent all day in the kitchen without having to labor over a hot stove. Cook quick, healthy dishes for your family with pasta and rice in your pantry. Low-fat spaghetti and meatballs and mushroom risotto are just two fast recipes you can prepare in 30 minutes.

Pasta and rice for your kitchen pantry:

  • Angel Hair Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Fettucini
  • Spaghetti Noodles
  • White Rice

Storage and Cooking Aids

Most of these products serve double duty in your kitchen, helping you coat foods with marinades, cover cooking foods in the oven and store your leftovers.

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is like money in the bank. With basic supplies on hand, you’ll be equally prepared to put together a family-friendly meal or a last-minute dinner for friends. The trick is figuring out what to stock up on and what you will likely never use.

Consider the checklist below a rough sketch; only you can determine the essentials based on your palate, repertoire and needs. Trying to cut back on meat? Skip the Italian sausage and swap in frozen wild-caught shrimp. Don’t like peanut butter? Pick up a tub of hummus instead. The idea is to make sure you have enough proteins and sturdy vegetables to pull together several satisfying meals, plus some flavorful condiments and seasonings to keep things interesting (even on a school night).

Whatever you decide to toss in your shopping cart, you can rest happy knowing you won’t ever again have to call spaghetti with butter dinner — unless that’s exactly what you’re in the mood for.

PANTRY

Basics

  • Kosher salt
  • Fine salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic or sherry vinegar
  • Rice vinegar (unseasoned)

493281799

Nice Kitchen hutch with baking ingredients on display in glass jars – alchemy style