The word “pantry” makes me think of a closet stocked with things like cereal, Pop Tarts, Ritz Crackers, canned beans, chips and salsa, stray garbage bags–a cluttered, catch-all location for the food that doesn’t go in the fridge. This is certainly one way to have a pantry, but in the context of this site, it means something else entirely.

Simply put: my pantry is the collection of ingredients that I regularly have on hand. Yes, it incorporates things that don’t perish easily, like rice and beans, but it also includes the staples that I have to buy on a regular basis, like eggs and milk. More often than not, my pantry will determine whether I can cook when one of us gets hungry instead of running to the store or ordering pizza.

So in that spirit, here’s a list of what I like to keep on hand. Don’t run out and buy everything on this list. Use it as a starting point, something to get you thinking about the foods you like and their various uses. This list isn’t exhaustive–it’s probably 40 percent of my actual pantry–but it includes the items I would be most likely to replace as soon as I used up what I have. There are some categories that you simply won’t find here: I don’t cook a lot of Asian food, I don’t do spicy-hot, and I hate chocolate. Stock up based on your own palate and build from there.


Garlic (fresh)

Sweet potatoes

Citrus (usually 1–2 lemons plus oranges if in season)

Purple cabbage (keeps a while in produce drawer of fridge)

Frozen peas

Frozen fruit such as peaches or blueberries



Chicken (bone-in, skin-on thighs when possible, frozen)

Bone broth

Canned skipjack tuna in water


Unsalted butter

Whipping cream

Yogurt (whole milk full fat)

Feta and/or goat cheese

Parmigiano Reggiano

Cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda cheese


Extra-virgin olive oil

Coconut oil

Safflower oil

Balsamic vinegar

Worcestershire sauce


Stone-ground mustard

White cooking wine

Red wine vinegar

Red curry paste

Canned coconut milk


Dried cranberries

Golden raisins

Dried apricots


Pine nuts



Almond butter

Sesame seed (white and black)

Pumpkin seeds


Jasmine or basmati rice (white or brown)

Red lentils

Black beans (canned or dried)

Canned chick peas



Angel hair


Penne or farfalle



Canned tomatoes

Tomato paste

Black pitted olives


Sea salt



Garlic powder

Onion powder


Ground cumin


Celery seed

Mustard seed




Whole nutmeg

Pure vanilla extract


All-purpose flour

Cake flour

Rye flour

Whole wheat pastry flour

Aluminum-free baking powder

Baking soda

Pure organic cane sugar


Light brown sugar, coconut palm sugar, or date sugar

Scroll to top