loading

If you've ever wanted to start cooking, having a proper pantry is one of the first steps you'll need to take! I cook pretty much every day and sometimes multiple times a day, mostly pulling from things I have on hand.

When you've got an awesomely stocked pantry, you really only need to worry about getting fresh meat, fish and produce to make a homemade meal. And sometimes you don't even have to do that! :D

Along with telling you how I stock my home pantry, I'll also link to some of my favorite recipes you can make from the ingredients listed. I've really only outlined the things I count as the ultimate basics, so I'm sure there are many more useful items to call out.

Have a favorite pantry staple? Tell us in the comments!

Step 1: Fridge Basics

Butter / Butter Substitute

Salted and unsalted! Salted can be used for pretty much everything but baking.

I also keep Earth Balance in my fridge - it's super salty, so I don't use it in baking, but it's a good lactose free alternative for toast. :D

Milk / Soy Milk / Nut Milk / Coconut Milk

Not only are these useful to have around if you're feeling lazy and just want to eat a bowl of cereal, they're also used in making many desserts and soups!

Eggs

Eggs are a great protein to have on hand! Not only are they cheap and last for a long time, they're also useful in loads of ways. I use most of mine for desserts and breakfast.

Bacon Fat

I store bacon fat in a mug in the fridge - something I learned from my mom! Great for adding a little extra flavor in potato salads or breakfast foods or sautéed onions. You can also make excellent pie crusts with it.

Concentrated Tomato Paste

Amore tomato paste comes in a tube and it's concentrated. I love that it keeps longer and tastes better than the little cans. I've not bought a single can of tomato paste in years. :D

Cheese

I can't eat too much of it these days, but I love it! I like to keep goat chèvre, feta and parmesan on hand nearly all the time. Cheeses are a nice way to add fat to salads so they're more filling.

Stock Concentrate

I love the Better than Bullion brand - the roasted chicken and beef flavors are always in my fridge. They come in low-sodium varieties, too! Definitely way better than canned or boxed stock.

Step 2: Freezer Basics

Frozen vegetables

I like to keep broccoli, peas and corn in the freezer. Frozen is often better than canned - they taste nicer and you avoid the large amounts of sodium.

Frozen fruit

Good in pies and smoothies!

Ginger

I prep all my ginger and pop it in the freezer for easy use! Check out this instructable for more info. I use loads of ginger and like to keep it on hand to help with upset stomachs.

Pie crusts

To be honest, I barely make pie crust at home. When I want pie, I want it NOW. You can use frozen pie crusts to crank out awesome chicken pot pies or chocolate cream pies. :D

Puff Pastry

Magical stuff! You can make so many fancy and tasty things in very little time.

Homemade Stocks

I like to make my own chicken stock and freeze it. You can thaw it in the microwave pretty easy!

Step 3: Baking Supplies

Staples you should absolutely have:

  • white sugar
  • brown sugar (I normally go with dark)
  • all purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract (My favorite is Nielsen-Massey - so good!)
  • cornstarch
  • instant oats
  • cornmeal

These items will be the basis of all your doughs, cakes, cookies and pastries. You'll also be able to use these items to create sauces and breadings for deep fried foods. yummmmm.

If you're not a baker at all, just having sugar, flour and cornstarch on hand will be helpful.

I also like to keep honey, whole wheat flour and other types of flours around, but I don't use them as often.

Here are a few of my favorite baking recipes to get you started:

Step 4: Herbs, Spices and Seasonings

This depends entirely on what you'd like to cook! I've written up a larger instructable on this, so I suggest checking that out:

How to use herbs and spices in cooking

Essential seasonings to have on hand

  • salt (fine and coarse!)
  • black peppercorns (I like telicherry)
  • curry powder
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • basil
  • bay leaves
  • cinnamon
  • cayenne
  • nutmeg
  • crushed red pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • coriander (ground)
  • dried mustard/mustard seeds

With just the things listed above you can make some absolutely stellar food! I probably actually have four times the amount of stuff listed above these days. Every time I decide to cook something new I always seem to end up with a few new spices, too!

Plus, having these things on hand means you can make your own dry rubs and spice blends. Here are a couple to get you started:

Also, I LOVE spice and herb mixes. I am not afraid to admit it. We always have lemon pepper, seasoned salt, Tony's and others on hand.

Step 5: Canned & Jarred Goods

Canned Tomatoes

I normally keep tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and whole tomatoes on hand. You can make all sorts of lovely things with tomatoes - pasta sauces, soups, chilis, etc.

Here are some of my favorite canned tomato recipes:

Beans

Chickpeas, black, pinto, etc. I normally have loads on hand, both canned and dried. You can use beans to make soups and stews more filling, or you can even make them the main protein in your dish to save a little money or help limit your meat consumption. (P.S. I am addicted to chickpeas)

Try these recipes to become a bean-protein believer:

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

These are the best. They're the main ingredient in my chilaquiles recipe, which is the easiest and tastiest weeknight meal EVER.

Coconut Milk

Canned coconut milk is a lovely thing. You can use it to make creamy popsicles, amazing curries and rice puddings. I always have a couple cans on hand just in case.

Here are a couple recipes for coconut milk:

Step 6: Grains and Pasta

Pasta

Really just whatever you like, honestly! I try to keep 3-4 boxes on hand.

Rice Noodles

These are super versatile and quick cooking! Great as a base for stir fries instead of rice. :)

White & Brown Rice

Keeping both on hand is always a good idea. Brown rice makes great salads!

Israeli Couscous

Great for all sorts of yummy salads. It's easy to cook and I love the texture. Try out my recipe for couscous salad and you'll always want to have it on hand. :)

Polenta

Polenta is a great sub for pasta or rice, and it's pretty easy to make.

Here are a few polenta recipes to try out:

Step 7: Produce Basics

Produce to store in the fridge:

Yeah, apples and oranges taste better at room temp, but they stay good forever in the fridge!

Apples are fantastic to have around - use them with baked pork chops, spiced apple cake, or apple muffins. Oranges add lovely zing to baked goods and also make super awesome orange porkchops. Lemons and limes are great in marinades, in sauces, or added to baked goods like my olive oil lemon cake.

Produce to store in the pantry:

  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic

I store these items out of direct sunlight in paper bags using Canida's method, found here.

I try to keep a couple of red, onion and yellow onions around. As far as potatoes, I normally do sweet, russet, and red or gold skinned.

Step 8: Oils and Vinegars

Oils

  • olive oil
  • vegetable/canola oil
  • coconut oil (I prefer unrefined)
  • avocado oil (great for high heat!)

Olive oil is what I used for most of my cooking, but I also always keep around vegetable or canola for when I need to fry something.

I use unrefined coconut oil as a substitute but butter in baking, or as a base in curries. Check out my dairy free oatmeal cookies for a good example of using coconut oil in baking.

Vinegars

  • white vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • apple cider vinegar

I use white vinegar most often - it's sorta all purpose for me! I use red wine vinegar in salad dressings and steak sandwich marinades. Apple cider vinegar is milder and sweeter, so I'll use it in quick pickles and sauces.

Step 9: Sauces and Condiments

Sauces and Condiments

  • ketchup
  • yellow mustard
  • hot sauces (Tapatio, Sriracha, Franks, etc)
  • BBQ sauce
  • chili-garlic sauce
  • soy sauce
  • teriyaki sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • jams & jellies

There are lots of uses for these things! You can use ketchup to make a sweet and sour sauce, or mustard to coat a pork tenderloin during roasting.

I constantly use hot sauces and chili sauces in Mexican and Indian cooking, too! Franks hot sauce is a major ingredient in my hot wings.

Soy sauce is a great way to add salt and flavor to most anything - I use it in soups, stews, marinades and sauces.

Very informative! Thank you!
You really should differentiate between Dutch process cocoa and unsweetened cocoa.
<p>Maybe it's been said before, but never ever keep tomatoes in the fridge! They are best kept at room temperature as fridge temperatures will mess with their texture! </p>
<p>I thank you very much for your good advice some of what you recommend have slipped my mind. I just have an issue with you labeling couscous &quot;Israeli&quot; when most people know that it is a North African (specifically Moroccan) Staple.</p>
<p>It's actually the name of the specific type that I enjoy eating - nothing to do with where it originates from, just what's it's called on the shelves here in the US:</p><p>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptitim</p>
<p>Actually Israeli couscous *was invented in Israel (in the 1950's where rice was scarce in the newly founded country, as a substitute), it just have nothing to do with real couscous in any other way except from it's name and shape.</p>
<p>Feta!! My favorite cheese! I was quite surprised to find it in your pantry list. Do you have the original Greek feta, or do use its substances? The original Greek Feta is difficult to find out of Greece, and it tastes soooo much better than other &quot;copies&quot; found all over around.<br>Tip: Look over the internet how to make a greek salad with feta (and some extra vergin olive oil from greece as well) and you will thank me ;)</p>
Thank you for your lists. I seem to have an over abundance of things I don't need.
<p>check,and check luckily since the pantry will be depended on heavily in the next few months...</p>
<p>check, check, and check! nicely done!</p>
<p>Ah Jesse---I see you have not discovered the pleasures of SMOKED PAPRIKA---if you had surely it would be on your ESSENTIAL SPICES list! Sprinkle on chicken; pork roasts and chops; burgers; anything with chick peas; add to chili---endless uses. </p><p>Cumin; dried mustard; soup cubes; a good quality dried parsley in case you can't find fresh (I live in the wilderness!) jarred garlic; bay leaves; onion soup mix (Yes--I know I KNOW!!!) --All these will help expand from the basics. </p><p>If you can find one in your area--and they are out there if I can get to 4 within shopping range of my house in Cow Country!---Food Coops or hippie variety Spice Shops (No; not that place at the mall!) often sell loose spices for MUCH cheaper than the grocery store; the product is far superior and you can buy as much or as little as you need--I buy a lot of cinnamon and chili powder; not so much ginger and cloves sort of thing. You can often get small jars there or save your jars. Also good for bulk--as little as a pound--flours; nuts; seeds; oils; some cheeses; local foods. some carry raw grains and other things. </p>
fresh garlic is better for u than jarred healthwise. If preparation is an issue there are garlic mincing tools that make it a breeze. OXO &amp; Pampered Chef brands to name 2 have good ones.
<p>A great place to start for stocking up the pantry for the first time. </p>
I like what u have on hand all are a must have
<p>Thanks much for this. I had a windfall of sorts and stocking my pantry is what I will do with it. But where to start when the cupboard was bare? You solved that. Happy cooking!!</p>
<p>Oh my gosh this is great. My wife and I are constantly wondering how we go to the grocery store every week and never have any food! Somehow we still haven't graduated to shopping like adults.</p>
<p>Nice list Jessy! </p><p>Don't forget Sage for your dried herb list. It's needed for many poultry or pork and stuffing recipes and if you keep Star Anise on hand, you can make Chinese 5 spice powder for wings and egg rolls and such. </p><p>I also keep sour and sweet cream on hand for dressings and sauces, but I like dairy, and it likes me.</p><p>My liquor store sells little 6 packs of wine, that way I have a glass for the pan and one for me, instead of half a full size bottle turning sour over time. Wine's the best for deglazing, braising and sauces.</p><p>Lastly, I would add chocolate chips and dried fruit in the cupboard, with almonds, and walnuts or pecans in the freezer. </p><p>Thanks for the time and good job!</p>
<p>Ohhhh sage, you're right! I don't use it that often but it is indeed needed for all things stuffing :D</p><p>The six packs of wine are a great idea, too! I'm going to have to hunt some down. </p>
<p>puff pastry on everything, please.</p>
<p>AMEN</p>
Cool stocklist, and reassuringly similar to my own kitchen. definitely useful as a starter for first kitchens. <br>May i just suggest garlic and chilli pastes as well as the tomato? theres a brand called 'gia'(?) sold here in the uk, which is just the chilli or garlic pre-chopped in olive oil. definitely as good as the whole clove, and doesn't add unnecessary flavors to the dish (unlike some garlic pastes with vinegar, salt and other herbs) .
<p>Hey Jessy - what a most excellent pantry list! I'm a 72 y/o guy and do almost all my own cooking. Never had my own pantry so this is a very useful 'ible. Thanks for sharing it.</p>
<p>Thank you so much.</p>
<p>Nice list Jessyratfink! I am with you on almost all of these (even some of your favorite brands!). This is a fabulous list for someone starting out, stocking a kitchen in a new home or trying to step hp their home cooking options.</p><p>Please add that spices should always be stored in glass bottles in a dark and cool place - NOT in a spice rack right above your stove. I write the date on the top of new spice jars in permanent marker - some I hardly ever use and ground spices really are not good for all that long. I buy whole spices and use a small mortar and pestle whenever possible.</p><p>I would switch out the yellow mustard for a Dijon - great in salad dressings and recipes.</p><p>You mention lemons and limes - I always have limes on hand. A quick squeeze can seriously brighten up just about any bland or boring savory dish. Balsamic and rice vinegars are on hand for the same reason.</p><p>Frozen crushed garlic cubes (sold at Trader Joe's and Costco) are an absolute MUST for my pantry. Garlic is probably my favorite ingredient and with the frozen cubes I can get that fresh garlic taste in a second.</p><p>I only buy unsalted butter and keep it in the freezer - taking out one cube at a time. I don't bake sweet things much, so that is plenty for my needs but you could do the same with one package at a time.</p><p>Almonds and cashews are nice to make a quick stir fry, so those are always on my shelf. Dried pasta will always be there in one form or another.</p><p>My sister says she loves to visit and inspect my pantry for interesting new ingredients but honestly it does not vary all that much. My current favorite unusual stocked item is a good quality porcine mushroom powder - adds a wonderful richness to soups, stews and sauces.</p><p>Great idea to put this list together - I have some friends I will be referring here.</p>

About This Instructable

37,054views

464favorites

License:

Bio: part of the Instructables Design Studio by day, stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working on! ^_^
More by jessyratfink:Dream Design Make Free Embroidery Pattern Floral Stitch Sampler + Free Pattern  Mountain Embroidery Sampler + Free Pattern  
Add instructable to: