Building Your Pantry

We all have different tastes and diets, so we all will have slightly different things in our pantries, refrigerators, and freezers. These are examples from my own pantry, so use this as a guide to building your own well-stocked pantry.

Take advantage of sales at your favorite grocery stores to stock up on pantry and freezer items or buy in bulk at large warehouse stores like Costco if you can. Remember that you do not need to stock up your entire kitchen all at once. Add items slowly based on your needs (and sales).

Refrigerator items get used more quickly, so these are items I typically buy fresh weekly or as needed for a specific recipe.


  • Legumes: several varieties of canned and dried beans and lentils
  • Grains and starches: white and brown rice, regular and whole grain pasta, quinoa, farro, barley, polenta, and rice noodles
  • Oils: olive oil, vegetable oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil
  • Vinegar: white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and flavored vinegars for mixing things up or to finish a dish with
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, peanut butter, almond butter
  • Baking: all-purpose, bread, and whole wheat flours, semolina flour, chickpea flour, oats and multigrain cereals, white and brown sugar, confectioners sugar, yeast, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, almond extract, kosher salt, almond meal, corn starch, instant espresso powder, chocolate chips, buttermilk powder, cocoa nibs, flax seeds
  • Spices: (here I will admit that I have a bit of a spice addiction, so I won’t list them all!) salt, black and white pepper, granulated garlic, sweet and smoked paprika, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon, onion powder, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, chives, chili flakes, ginger, ground cumin and cumin seeds, garlic salt, bay leaves, mint, sumac, nutmeg, allspice, lemon pepper, cloves, cardamom, and your favorite blends and specialty spices
  • Garlic, garlic, and garlic (I may have a slight obsession), a variety of onions, shallots, ginger
  • Miscellaneous: canned tomatoes, tomato paste, favorite sauces, pomegranate molasses, vegetable and chicken broth, dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, and currents, nutritional yeast, chia seeds, panko, matzo meal, honey


  • Vegetables: peas, corn, chopped spinach, your favorite mixed veggie blends, kabocha or butternut squash (I don’t like most frozen veggies because they tend to get really mushy, but I always have these on hand just in case)
  • Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, mixed berries, mango, pineapple, and mini plantains (when I can find them) or the bananas that have browned too quickly (remove the peels and seal in a zipper bag)
  • Proteins: chicken pieces, cooked beans (and because my son loves seafood even though I don’t cook it, we usually have options such as precooked shrimp and fish fillets that he can add to whatever I make)
  • Miscellaneous: puff pastry, homemade fruit and vegetable purees, packaged fresh tortellini, individual servings of homemade soups, lasagnas, and pizzas, and of course, your favorite ice cream or treat!


  • Your favorite proteins such as tofu, tempeh, chicken, turkey, beef, etc.
  • Sauces or flavorings: miso, soy sauce, barbeque sauce, hot sauce (we have 4 or 5 different types of hot sauce in the fridge at any given time)
  • Dairy/Alt dairy: a variety of cheeses including cheddar, parmesan, colby, brie, and cream cheese, unsweetened and/or vanilla almond milk or coconut milk, buttermilk
  • Produce: seasonal veggies, kale, salad greens, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, fresh herbs, scallions