Skip to main content

The Essential Ingredients in a Perfect Pantry

Stock your kitchen with these basic ingredients and you'll always have a dinner backup plan.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

Get this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup | Photo by My 3 boys

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)
  • Rice (white and/or brown in long-grain or short-grain varieties)
  • 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

Condiments

  • 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

Extras
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 

Get recipes for easy meals using canned and frozen foods you may have in your freezer or cupboard right now.

 

About Allrecipes Editors

Your friends in the kitchen with expert answers to all your burning food questions. Because we’ve been there, done that.