A Beginners Guide To What You Should Keep In Your Pantry

August 18, 2021

A Beginners Guide To What You Should Keep In Your Pantry

One important thing to remember is to make sure that your pantry is always cool. 

The pantry should also be dark with access to proper lighting. The items purchased should be stored in the pantry for at least 6 months.

While shelf life is key, make sure the foods you purchase are things you and your family like to eat.

Row of labeled jars in a pantry

Photo by Heather McKean on Unsplash

Keep your pantry organized, store dry and bulk items in clear containers with labels so you know what's what.

Put dates on goods once you open them. We may think dried goods can stay good for months, but once you open an item you drastically cut down its shelf life. Dates are a good way to keep track of what might have become stale.

So what should you keep in your pantry.

Herbs and Spices:

Several herbs and spices are essential for flavorsome food. It is often recommended to use fresh herbs and spices instead of dried. In these instances, a trip to the market is favorable.

Dried and ready spices have their merits, keep well, and are cheaper. They must be kept in proper containers, in a cool dark place, not exposed to sunlight.

Dried herbs help reduce the temptation to buy ready-made foods and sauces that contained large amounts of additives, sodium, and sugar.

The must-haves dried herbs and spices to purchase are:

  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Mixed Herbs Spices
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Ground Coriander
  • Crushed Chillies
  • Ground Ginger
  • Curry Powder and Turmeric

Cooking Basics


Whether roasting veggies or pan-frying proteins, cooking oil is the starting point of many recipes. To start, stick with the two basics: olive oil and canola oil. Olive oil will act as the base for many of your dishes, dressings, and sauces, whereas canola will be perfect for baking and frying.


Vinegar is great for adding extra flavor and brightness to your recipes. Apple cider and white wine vinegars are both great starter options, as they will work well in a versatile range of dishes without being too overpowering.

Spices and Seasonings

Though navigating the seemingly never-ending spice aisle can be a challenge, there are a few essentials that can jump-start your first collection. Stock up on some quality grind-able salt and pepper, and then pick up a small selection of spices and herbs. We recommend cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and cayenne as a solid starter set.


Whole garlic bulbs will last 3-6 months on your counter, and can add flavor to everything from meats to pasta sauces. As a bonus, this pantry staple tends to be both inexpensive and extremely versatile.


Like garlic, onions will stay fresh in your pantry for a good chunk of time 6 months in the winter or 1-2 months in the summer and act as a great addition to just about any savory dish.

cooking oil

Photo by Tucker Good on Unsplash

Condiments and Sauce Starters


A quality Dijon mustard is not only a great condiment option on its own, but is also an excellent base for simple and delicious dressings. 

Hot Sauce

This condiment will enhance the flavors of everything from your scrambled eggs in the morning to your leftover pizza at midnight. Whether you prefer a fiery red Sriracha or a tangy green chili-based hot sauce, it's an excellent staple to have on hand.


Perfect for sweetening foods the natural way, honey will be a great addition to tea, plain yogurt, oatmeal, sauces, and more.

Soy Sauce

This condiment will be perfect for crafting your own Asian-inspired meals, like Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice , or on lazier nights for serving with take-out sushi.

Nut Butter

Whether spreading it on toast or using it as the base for hearty Warm Peanut and Sesame Noodles , every pantry should have a jar of the nutty stuff. Whether you opt for crunchy or creamy is totally your call.

Tomato Paste 

If you're a pasta fan and who isn't you'll want to have tomato paste around as a sauce starter. We recommend mastering a simple and reliable recipe, to impress friends and dinner dates with your off-the-top-of-your-head cooking skills.

 tomato sauce

Photo by Dennis Klein on Unsplash  


The Recipe Basics


Once you've perfected that perfect pasta sauce, you'll need to have some carb-filled goodness on hand to pour it over. Dried pasta is the perfect pantry item, as it's affordable and long lasting, so you won't have to worry about stocking up too often.


Rice will also act as the base for infinite easy and delicious recipes. We recommend starting with a big bag of basmati rice, which should last you for the long haul.

Rolled Oats

This pantry staple will be your breakfast BFF, whether prepared warm or fashioned into grab-and-go Overnight Oats . Or, if you're feeling fancy, whip up a big batch of Chocolate Peanut-Butter Energy Bars for your on-the-move snacking needs.

Canned Tuna

This nonperishable ingredient is a great option for those who want more animal protein in their diet with minimal cooking time. 

Canned Beans

Another protein option for those who would rather go the meat-free route are canned beans, which are great to have on hand for everything from lighter soups and salads to heartier dishes 

Stocking up on some chicken, vegetable, and/or beef broth will make whipping up soups and stewed recipes a breeze. Just make sure to refrigerate the leftovers if you don't use the entire container at once.

pasta dish

Photo by Jean-claude Attipoe on Unsplash

Baking Essentials

All-purpose Flour

While flour is obviously essential to almost all baking endeavors, it's also great for thickening sauces, breading fried dishes, and more. 

Alternative Flours Sugar

While basic granulated sugar is a good starting point if you're planning to get your bake on, having bags of brown sugar and powdered sugar on hand is also a good idea, particularly for those with a sweet tooth.

Vanilla extract

While there are plenty of extracts out there, vanilla tends to be the jumping off point for most recipes. When you're ready to take your pantry game up a notch, you can even make your own homemade vanilla extract to get the most bang for your buck.

Baking powder

Another baking essential, baking powder is key for cake and bread-making endeavors.

If you keep these items in your pantry you will never have to worry about having guests pop in and what you can prepare for them.

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