What Are the Basic Pantry Items? (Stock Up!)

Last updated on February 21, 2024

Here’s what you need to have in your kitchen pantry. Use this list to stock up completely with nothing left for afterthought. Read on!

 A well-stocked pantry is the best thing to have when you go grocery shopping. You should stock up on things basic pantry things to always have the ingredients you need for your cooking. It will save a lot of time and money if you plan ahead.

Here are the main categories of items you need to have in your pantry at all times. Make sure you keep the pantry organized and use deep shelves.

Oils Vinegars

oil and vinegar

Olive oil is a must-have ingredient for any kitchen. You should always have three kinds of olive oil on hand. Use them for cooking, salads, and even desserts!

  • Vegetable oil is used for cooking and frying.
  • Sunflower oil is the most common choice. Other popular choices include canola oil, peanut, and grapeseed oil.
  • Avocado oil is also a great option for salads and baking.
  • Sesame oil is great for Asian dishes. A few drops of toasted oil work wonders. Store sesame oil in the refrigerator to keep it from going bad. Balsamic vinegar is also great for Asian dishes. Use a nice middle-of-the-range balsamic vinegar.
  • Cider vinegar is a great ingredient for making pickles. It has a stronger taste than white vinegar. It also helps your body absorb nutrients better. You should always buy unfiltered cider vinegar because it contains beneficial bacteria.
  • Red wine vinegar is a great all-purpose vinegar for salad dressings.
  • White wine vinegar is also very useful for salads and sauces.
  • Rice vinegar is used in Asian dishes. Rice wine vinegar is the same as rice vinegar.


Flour – At the very least, you should have all-purpose unbleached flour in your kitchen at all times. Bread flour is a great swap for white flour when making bread. And cake flour is a great swap to use instead of white flour when baking cakes. Whole wheat flour is a great swap if you want to be a bit healthier.

Also, consider specialty grain flour like rye and Spelt, extra finely mulled flours for pizza and pasta.

Sugar is a basic ingredient in baking. White sugar is easier to use than brown sugar because it doesn’t clump as much. Brown sugar is more flavorful than white sugar. Powdered sugar is used for frosting cakes and icing cookies. Confectioners’ sugar is used for dusting cake layers and icing cupcakes.

Yeast is a fungus that grows naturally on bread dough. It is used as an ingredient in baking because it helps make bread rise.

Vanilla is a delicious spice used in baking. Pure vanilla extract is a must-have ingredient. You should always buy pure vanilla extract instead of imitation vanilla.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are delicious! You should always have some around because you never know when you might need them.

Baking chocolate is chocolate chips that aren’t meant to be melted. Melted chocolate is used for brownies, truffles, and other desserts. To make them, you need to chop up the chocolate into pieces, then melt it in a pan over low heat. You also need to temper it, meaning you add some liquid to the chocolate to help it solidify when cooled down. This makes it easier to use for making things like fudge and caramels.

Baking soda and baking powder are pretty important when making baked goods. You can’t make anything without them. Check your expiration date before using them. Don’t mix up the two because they’re different things.

Sprinkles – Rainbow sprinkles make things better. But chocolate jimmies also make everything better.

Spices and Seasonings

Kosher salt is the best type of salt to use when making recipes or cooking. It does not cause any problems if you sprinkle it on your food. You should always have some on hand.

Pepper is pretty much the same everywhere. I prefer freshly ground pepper so I buy big bags at my local international market.

Spices are also pretty much the same. Cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and smoked paprika are the most commonly used spices.

Nutmeg, fennel, garlic, bay leaf, sesame seeds, and sweet paprikas are second-tier spices. Other spices include thyme, sage, and dill.


Honey is sweet and delicious. It doesn’t expire, even if it crystallizes. Microwaving brings it back to life. You should try different kinds of honey. Local raw honey is great for people who suffer from seasonal allergies.

Maple syrup is another alternative sweetener that is often used instead of refined sugars. It doesn’t cost much more than regular sugar, but it does add a lot of flavors.

Corn syrup is also an alternative sweetener that is sometimes used instead of refined sugars, though it’s usually cheaper than maple syrup. Dark corn syrup is useful for some recipes like pecan pie or marshmallows. Light corn syrup is useful for preventing boiling sugar from crystallizing.

Canned Goods

Canned tomatoes are a godsend during the winter months. You can use them for many things including tomato sauce, soups, pasta dishes, etc.

Tomato paste is a great ingredient to use when making sauces and stews. You can add it to soups, pasta dishes, casseroles, and more. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C and potassium.

Anchovy is an oily fish that comes in a jar. You should add them to your oil and garlic when you’re making pasta sauces.

Pumpkin – Sometimes you want pumpkin when it’s not October; for that reason, pick up a couple of extra cans each year to make sure you get through the year.

Coconut Milk – Quality, full-fat coconut milk is a staple in many Indian and Asian dishes, and also a great dairy-free substitute for milk in baking. Low fat coconut milk is thinner and doesn’t separate as much, which is useful sometimes as well. If u can find a product without any added gums or thickeners, even better.

Chicken stock broth is usually made by simmering chicken bones for hours until they become tender. Beef stock is made by simmering beef bones for hours until they are tender.

Vegetable stock is made by simmer vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, etc., for hours until they are soft. The broth is usually used in soups and stews, while stock is often used in sauces, gravies, and other dishes.

Rice and Grains

Rice is a grain used as a staple food. There are 11 million varieties of rice. White jasmine rice is the most common variety. Brown rice is another type of rice. Sticky sushi rice is used when making sushi. Arborio rice is used for risotto.

Old fashioned oats are great for everything from a breakfast meal to baking.

Beans are versatile foods that can be added to many dishes. They are also easy to cook and store. Dried beans are usually more nutritious than canned beans.

Quinoa/Farro/Barley – An alternative grain is always helpful to have, when you do not feel like pasta but want a hearty meal. Pick your favorite, as they are pretty much interchangeable in most dishes.

Bread crumbs – From meatballs to chicken tenderloins, breadcrumbs are useful and flavorful. I prefer Panko breadcrumbs over regular ones, as they are more crispy. Seasoning is optional.

Fresh Produce

You should store your garlic in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This will help prevent sprouting and make them last longer. Sprouting garlic makes them taste bitter.

Onions are vegetables that keep well in dry, dark places. Yellow onions are the most versatile variety. Sweet onions are great for French onion soup.

Potatoes are another perishable food item that should be kept away from onions. Store them in a cool, dark, and dry place. Don’t cut off any sprouts or greens before you eat them.

Also consider apples, avocados, bananas, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, lemons, limes, leafy greens, lettuce, cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, scallions, garlic, ginger, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables.


  • The classics – Jelly, jam, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, pickle.
  • Hot sauces – Tabascos, Sriracha or Sambal, Worcestershire Sauce, Soy Sauce or Tamari, Asian Fish Sauce, Toasted Sesame Oil.


How to stock a pantry for a year?

It depends on how many people you live with. If you have one person, then you need about five months’ worth of supplies. For two people, you’ll need three months’ worth. Three people would need six months’ worth. Four people would need eight months’ worth. Five people would need 12 months’ worth. 

What are gourmet pantry items?

Gourmet pantry items are those that are expensive and hard to find. They include things such as truffles, caviar, foie grass, smoked salmon, etc.

What is the pantry items list for the office?

Pantry items lists for the office are usually based on what employees might need during lunch breaks. It includes things like nuts, crackers, raisins, olives, dips, etc.

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