Pantry: What should you have in a well-stocked pantry?

I frequently get e-mails asking which items are essential when stocking your pantry. Here is my list. I am loosely defining the pantry as things you should keep on hand–not only in your cupboard (the literal pantry), but also in the fridge, the freezer, the dry vegetable bin and the bread drawer and I have broken it down that way. However, there are many things that start in your cupboard and end up in your fridge (such as ketchup, mustard, peanut butter, etc). I have put them in the cupboard because that is where they start. This is a basic list of the kind of items that really help me to get dinner on the table during the week. Of course you should adjust it to your preferences.

The Cupboard
Oils and Vinegars:
Extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil
Assorted vinegars – at least balsamic, white wine and cider. I would add red wine, rice wine and sherry vinegar

Bottled Items:
Marinated artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers
Italian pickled vegetables (olive salad, peperoncini, giardiniera)
Kalamata or other black Mediterranean olives
Pimento stuffed olives
Sun dried tomatoes
Pasta sauce
Dijon mustard
Hot sauce
Peanut butter

Canned Goods:
Asssorted beans – kidney, white, chickpeas, black (I like the Progresso or Goya brand)
Canned whole and chopped tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)
Canned Chicken, Vegetable and Beef Broth (I like College Inn but many cookbook authors also like Swanson)
Tuna (packed in oil for more flavor or water for less calories)
Chipotles in adobo sauce
Chopped green chiles

Asian Ingredients:
Soy sauce
Fish sauce
Toasted sesame oil
Canned unsweetened coconut milk
Water chesnuts
Rice vinegar
Rice wine (available at liquor stores and Chinese grocery stores)
Star anise
Dried wasabi powder
Soba noodles

Grains, Pastas and Dried Goods
Assorted pasta – spaghetti, macaroni, linguine, orzo and other varieties of your choice
Egg noodles
Long grain rice
Rolled oats
Dried porcini or other dried mushrooms
Assorted crackers
Ramen noodles
Baking Ingredients:
Unbleached all purpose flour
Wondra flour
Granulated sugar
Brown sugar
Corn syrup
Maple syrup (grade b)
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cream of tartar
Pure vanilla extract
Assorted chocolate (unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, chips)
Unsweetened cocoa
Powdered egg whites (the brand I get is just whites)
Powdered buttermilk
Unflavored gelatin

Sweet Spices
Ground allspice
Whole and ground cinnamon
Ground cloves
Ground ginger

Savory Herbs and Spices
Turkish bay leaves
Ground cumin and cumin seed
Ground and whole coriander
Curry powder
Caraway seeds
Fennel seeds
Assorted paprikas, sweet, hot, smoked
Hot red pepper flakes
Chili powder

Kosher salt
Table salt (for baking)
Dried bread crumbs
Panko bread crumbs

Dry white wine
Dry Marsala or Madeira
Dry sherry

Bin or Basket
Russet (baking) potatoes
Boiling potatoes (red or white)

Bread Basket
Sandwich bread
Pita with pockets

Lemons, limes, oranges
Sour cream
Plain yogurt
Large eggs
Fresh ginger
Chiles (jalapeno or Serrano
Miso paste
Washed lettuces
Sharp Cheddar
Bottled horseradish
Unsalted butter

Phyllo dough
Puff pastry
Wonton wrappers
Flour and corn tortillas
Corn, peas, lima beans, spinach, edamame
Vanilla ice cream

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7 Responses to Pantry: What should you have in a well-stocked pantry?

  1. Nicole says:

    Just wanted you to know that your spirit is so calm and sweet… You have become a dear friend that is also teaching me to cook. You replaced trashy reality tv for me. Thank you!!

  2. Judy Bee says:

    I remember when you had the show on Food Network (which is now nothing more than game shows and contests) where we would cook dinner along with you. Haven’t seen you on TV in ages! Where (if anywhere?!) are you now?!

    • moulton says:

      Judy, I have a pbs show called “Sara’s Weeknight Meals,” which is now in its 8th season.
      Here is how you find it:
      go to this page https://saramoulton.com/shows/
      and scroll down to “Where do I find the show in my neck of the woods?” then click on the button which will take you to a page that asks for your provider (comcast, time warner, etc) and zip code and it will tell you where and when you can watch episodes of my show.

  3. Beth Sontag says:

    Catsup in the fridge? Please!
    Thanks Sara. I passed. I have everything

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