When you have what you need in your kitchen pantry , it makes cooking, baking, and meal prep far easier with ample ingredients at the ready. There is so much you can whip up when you have basic staples at your disposal.
You want to consider you and your family’s tastes and frequency preferences, as well as optimize based on the size of your own kitchen pantry space. There are several versatile items that every pantry should have living on its shelves. Here is a curated list of seven categories of dry goods that every homeowner should have on reserve.
- Baking Goods
- Herbs and Spices
- Oils, Vinegar, Dressings, and Marinades
- Canned, Bottled, and Jarred Items
- Sauces and Condiments
- Pasta, Beans, and Rice
- Paper Goods
Read on to learn more about these seven standard kitchen pantry groupings, what falls into each of them, and how you too can channel your inner Martha Stewart and brandish a bountiful pantry of ingredients!
Whether you are once a blue moon type of baker or a regular weekend muffin maker, having these items around will help you create yummy baking magic when the mood strikes.
- Vanilla and almond extracts
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Unsweetened and semisweet chocolate
- Baking chocolate
- Cocoa powder
- Unflavored gelatin
- Dry yeast
- Brown, white, and confectioners sugars
- Rolled oats
- Assorted nuts
- Cooking spray
- Cornmeal and cornstarch
- Evaporated and condensed milk
Biscuit, brownie, and cake mixes
With these ingredients available in your pantry, you can bake cakes, cookies, bread, scones, and other delectable desserts on a whim. The Brown-Eyed Baker also offers her
on building an effective baking goods arsenal.
Herbs and Spices
Dried herbs and spices are little gems that go a long way in boosting flavor profiles. Plus, there are so many to choose from! The Kitchn offers its comprehensive and descriptive guide on many of them here . What follows are 22 of the more commonly used ones.
- Bay Leaf
- Celery salt
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Curry Powder
- Chili Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Soup Mix
- Taco Seasoning
- Dry Rub
Fresh herbs such as mint, basil, cilantro, and rosemary are also wonderful to incorporate but do require refrigeration and quick use time. You can also purchase fresh spices in ground or seed form and grate or crush them to m
Oils, Vinegar, Dressings, and Marinades
Oils, vinegar, dressings, and marinades are essential to adding flavor and making your food sing. Oils provide a sizzle or drizzle to dishes while vinegar, dressings, and marinades can add much-needed acidity. Keep a variety of each handy to give your dishes pizazz or to doctor up any meat, greens, or veggie dish.
- Vegetable, canola, sesame, and olive oils
- Red wine, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar
- Salad dressings
- Assorted pre-made marinades (the choices and flavor profiles are endless)
- Lemon and lime juice
- Miso paste
- Maple Syrup
Check out this Taste of Home spotlight piece on making your own homemade marinades with just a few ingredients.
Canned, Bottled, and Jarred Items
Canned, bottled and jarred items are super convenient and can certainly be time savers when you are desiring a meal made without much prep or fuss. For the most part, these non-perishable pantry dwellers can stick around for up to three years but they probably shouldn’t be taking up the precious real estate if you haven’t used them within that time period.
- Tomatoes (crushed, pureed, whole, etc.)
- Tomato paste
- Canned veggies
- Canned fruits
- Canned tuna
- Jams and Jellies
- Peanut and Nut Butters
- Chilies or Peppers
- Chicken Stock
- Chopped Garlic
The Modern Proper offers a robust list of canned items that should have a home in your kitchen pantry. They also include links to recipes that feature the above items.
Sauces and Condiments
Sauces and condiments can add tons of pop to everyday recipes. They can be complex, aromatic, earthy, salty, sour, savory, or pungent, and a dollop or a dash of any of them can uplevel a whole dish. Sauces work well over top of or mixed into many versatile dishes. A bottle of sauce tends to last over many meals if used sparingly. Consider stocking up on:
- Mustard (Yellow, Dijon, or Honey Mustard)
- Soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Sweet-n-Sour sauce
- Chili sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Pasta/Tomato sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Cocktail sauce
- Steak sauce
- Tartar sauce
- Pesto sauce
- Tabasco sauce
- Fish sauce
Here is a primer from The Insider with 52 condiments listed. Who knew there were this many?
Pasta, Beans and Rice/Grains
There are a plethora of healthy and hearty recipes that contain pasta, beans, or rice/grains that you can add proteins or vegetables to for a more filling meal. Use lesser-known grains in soups, stews, and salads and as side dishes.
- Penne or assorted shapes
- Lasagna noodles
- White, Brown, Arborio, and Jasmine Rice
- Kidney, White, Black, Garbanzo and Pinto Beans
The long shelf life of this trio of dried food items is a benefit but always be sure to check expiration dates every so often. The texture of beans, rice, and grains will begin to deteriorate after about three months, even when stored properly. Unopened dried pasta should be good for up to two years from the date of purchase.
Paper goods serve multiple purposes in your kitchen, from helping you prepare and prep, covering cooked food in the oven, and securing precious leftovers. To keep paper essentials in order, consider using dividers, racks, or bins/baskets to corral any chaos. Here are some additional suggestions for keeping a well-organized kitchen pantry .
Stock on up the following paper-based products:
- Wax or Parchment paper
- Aluminum Foil
- Plastic Wrap
- Plastic bags of varying sizes
- Paper Towels
- Paper Plates
- Disposable cups and utensils
- Coffee Filters (use to soak up frying oils or to help weigh ingredients)
- Cupcake liners
- Brown bags (good for ripening fruits in-see why in this piece from the SF Gate)
- Trash bags
Buy paper goods in bulk if that makes sense for your family but be intentional as they can take up valuable storage space. Use a top shelf in your pantry for any overflow of goods but keep items that you use every day within easy reach.
An abundant kitchen pantry can be a game-changer, saving you time, effort and money. With a plentiful supply of necessities, it is possible to put together tasty and varied cuisine the whole family enjoys. Embrace the chef in you and create dishes using pantry items with or without recipes as a guide.
Whether you are a more experienced cook or are more comfortable with the basics, a fully stocked kitchen pantry allows you the freedom to create countless meal options. Remember to always be adventurous when stocking your pantry and on occasion, try some new global sauces or lesser-known grains.
Introduce your family to new ingredients. Pairing them together expands you and your family's repertoire, palettes, and your confidence as a cook. Delight in savoring new flavors when you have exactly what you need in your pantry to try any cuisine that strikes your fancy!