The Perfect Pantry

Pantry essentials for easy home cooking.

Homemade Seasoned Salt

Photo by LilSnoo

Stock your kitchen with these basics and you’ll always have a dinner backup plan.

The Bare Minimum
These are the essential six staples to always have on hand.

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar

Canned Goods
Chicken broth and beef broth are good to have if you make gravies or sauces in which liquid is cooked down, or “reduced.” The salty flavor of broth gives these dishes extra punch.

  • Chicken stock or broth
  • Beef stock or broth
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Can/jar of marinara sauce
  • Canned beans: white, black, kidney
  • Tuna

Starches and Dry Goods
Does your family eat a lot of pasta? Do you prepare stir-fries and other Asian dishes? Stock up on what you like to eat.

  • Pasta (in various shapes, strands, and tubes)
  • Long-grain white rice
  • Jasmine or Basmati rice
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Dried bread crumbs

The Root Cellar
Store these in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area–never in plastic bags or in the refrigerator.

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic


  • Vinegars (balsamic, cider, white, sherry, and wine vinegars)
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce

The Spice Rack

  • Dried basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Cayenne or
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Curry powder
  • Seasoned salt
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Dried parsley

The Almost-Bare Fridge

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter or margarine
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (yellow, Dijon, whole grain)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Other cheese

The Freezer

  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen spinach
  • Frozen peas
  • Ground beef
  • Chicken breasts

Flavors and ingredients that keep well and are nice to have on hand.

  • Herbs and spices: allspice, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, coriander, dill, marjoram, dry mustard, italian seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Lemons
  • Fresh ginger
  • Shallots
  • Capers
  • Canned chiles
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Anchovy paste
  • Almond extract
  • Vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Cornstarch
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar

Purge Your Pantry 

Turn the odds and ends in your pantry into a week of delicious dinners!