Pantry Checklist: What to Always Have on Hand

  • POSTED Jan 6th, 2022
  • BY Chef Carrie Walters

Getting your pantry prepared and well organized is one of the most important steps not only in a professional kitchen, but your home one, too, so we’ve create a guide to the well-stocked pantry. Having and keeping the staples in your pantry or cupboard as well as in your fridge and freezer can make cooking at home just plain simple and fast because you already have the ingredients. It’ll help you become a more efficient shopper, think in terms of meal planning, and be ready to bring a dish to life!

Heart of produce and pantry items, arranged with love across a backgorund

Whether you are doing a seasonal refresh or looking to start the New Year more organized, why not spend some quality time taking a good look at what’s already in your pantry, fridge, and freezer? If you haven’t used an item in a year, it might be time to throw it out! Although expiration, best by, and sell by dates can be confusing, they tend to be a good guideline on making the decision to keep or pitch. Take a good look at what you have left. Fill in the missing holes with items you’re consistently using and find yourself always cooking with. Just by adding a couple fresh ingredients, those pantry staples can give you so many options for baking and cooking.

Oils & Vinegars

BASIC:

  • Extra-Virgin olive oil
  • A neutral cooking oil like canola or grapeseed
  • Red-wine vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar

ADVANCED: Peanut oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sherry or balsamic vinegar, walnut oil, rice vinegar, mirin

Dairy & Charcuterie

BASIC:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cheddar, Gruyére, Feta
  • Plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream
  • Bacon
  • Hard salami or sausages

ADVANCED: More cheeses like pecorino Romano & blue, pâté, prosciutto or other cured artisan ham or meats

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on crusted white bread

Nuts & Nut Butters

BASIC:

  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts

ADVANCED: Pumpkin seeds, pistachios, tahini, pine nuts, hazelnuts

Bowl of spices over black background

Spices & Dried Herbs

BASIC:

  • Kosher salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Ground cayenne
  • Chili powder
  • Bay leaves
  • Black peppercorns
  • Sweet paprika
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano

ADVANCED: Flaky salt, ground coriander, dried dill, turmeric, smoked paprika, cardamom, za'atar, allspice, fennel seeds, dry mustard, garam masala, Chinese 5-spice powder, whole nutmeg, sumac, cumin seeds, coriander seeds

Bowl of tomato sauce with spices on top

Canned & Jarred Goods

BASIC:

  • Soups
  • Tuna
  • Tomato paste
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Beans
  • Pickles
  • Fruit jams and preserves
  • Anchovies
  • Olives
  • Maple syrup

ADVANCED: Clams, sardines, cornichons, preserved lemons, unsweetened coconut milk, capers, pickled hot peppers, kimchi

All-beef hot dog with ketchup and mustard, placed on a classic checkered background

Condiments & Sauces

BASIC:

  • Dijon and yellow mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • BBQ Sauce

ADVANCED: Whole grain mustard, hoisin, Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, anchovy paste, harissa, gochujang, mango chutney, miso, wasabi, Chinese oyster sauce, Asian chili bean pastes

Flour and eggs and a sifter, artfully placed on a wood background

Baking

BASIC:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Rolled oats
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Bittersweet baking chocolate
  • Semisweet chocolate chips
  • Raisins or other dried fruits
  • Cocoa powder

ADVANCED: Cake flour, whole wheat flour, dark baking chocolate, vanilla beans, almond extract, powdered gelatin, molasses, light corn syrup, buttermilk powder, active dry yeast

Roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, and garlic on a cutting board

Produce

BASIC:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Potatoes (Yukon Gold or Russet)
  • Lemons
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Greens like lettuce or kale
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Any favorite herbs

ADVANCED: Ginger, avocados, cilantro, scallions, limes, jalapeños, shallots, specialty herbs like mint, rosemary, and lemongrass, peppers

Sliced whole grain bread

Freezer

BASIC:

  • Chicken
  • Ground beef
  • Sausage
  • Thick fish fillets
  • Shrimp
  • Sliced bread
  • Frozen veggies like corn, peas, and spinach
  • Frozen fruits like peaches, berries, and mangos (excellent for baking or smoothies)
  • Ice cream
  • Bread dough or rolls

ADVANCED: Puff pastry, pancetta, stock, fresh pasta, vegetables like green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, edamame, and artichoke hearts

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