Prep your Pantry


Along with having an equipped kitchen you must have a prepped pantry.  With a well stocked pantry you will always be able to whip up a meal with ease.  Keep a list handy of what you use often and what you need to replace on your trip to the grocery. It is important to have food items in storage especially for spontaneous, quick, easy, healthy and creative cooking. There are items that are basic to almost any cooking. Other items are dependent on the type of cooking you do most often and the amount of storage space available. If you have the space invest in a stand up freezer, we keep one in the garage, it will save you money on meats and freezeable items when they are on sale. The pantry items below are separated into various categories from Oils and Vinegars to Fresh Herbs and Dried Spices.


Oils and Vinegars

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Distilled Vinegar
  • Rice Vinegar

 Dry Goods (some will need to be refrigerated after opening)

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cake Flour
  • Bread Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Corn Meal
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • confectioner Sugar
  • Yeast (freezer for long shelf life)
  • Cornstarch
  • Dried Breadcrumbs
  • Oatmeal
  • Semi or bittersweet chocolate
  • Egg noodles
  • Long Grain Rice
  • Brown Rice and/or Basmati Rice
  • “Quick Cook” Cous Cous
  • Canned whole tomatoes and diced tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Chicken, Beef, and Vegetable Broth
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Organic Local Honey
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Lite Mayonnaise
  • Dijon Mustard
  • *Franks* hot sauce
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Peanut Butter
  • barbeque Sauce * (prefered brand= Montgomery Inn)
  • Organic Honey
  • Pasta: (Penne or ziti, Spaghetti, Angel hair, Fettuccini, Lasagna)
  • Canned Beans (Kidney, Black Beans, White Beans, and Lentils)
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Light and Dark Corn Syrup
  • Canned Tuna
  • Canned Salmon
  • Walnuts, Almonds, & Pecans

Produce (most will need to be refrigerated)

  • Yukon Gold, Red,  &/or Sweet Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Red and Yellow Onions
  • Lettuce (Iceburg & Romaine)
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Bananas
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • jalapeno Peppers
  • Green Onions
  • Green & Red Peppers (I also like the yellow peppers)

Herbs and Spices


Fresh herbs that I like to keep on hand include:  Cilantro, Basil, Parsley (I prefer the Italian or Flat Leaf Parsley), & Thyme.

Occasionally, depending on various recipes and especially around the holidays I would also keep fresh Mint, Rosemary, and Sage.

 Dried Herbs and Spices

  •  Kosher Salt & Black Pepper (whole peppercorns and ground)
  • Table Salt (for baking purposes only, use Kosher salt when cooking)
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Celery Seed
  • Dry Mustard Seed
  • Cumin
  • Allspice
  • Cinnamon (Ground and Cinnamon Sticks)
  • Nutmeg
  • Dried Thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Sweet Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Onion Powder
  • Italian Seasoning Mix
  • Canadian Steak Seasoning Mix
  • Caraway Seeds
  • cardamom
  • Whole and Ground Cloves
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Curry Powder
  • Ground Coriander 
  • Marjoram
  • Chives
  • Parsley Flakes
  • Orange Peel
  • Pickling Spice
  • Savory
  • Ground Ginger
  • Tumeric
  • Tarragon
  • Dill Weed

(Note: Dried herbs and spices will tend to lose flavor after six months or so; however, they will not spoil.  Just taste as you go and add a more if needed.)

Also, if you own a morter and pestle (on the top 20 Kitchen Essentials list) you should buy whole spices and grind as you go which will give you a longer shelf life on your spices.

Refrigerator and Freezer

Keep fresh frozen vegetables handy for nights during the week when you are rushing to prepare dinner, also keep frozen onions,  peppers,  sweet corn, sugar snap peas,  broccoli, and carrots. These veggies can be incorporated into recipes once they have been thawed just as easily as fresh (sometimes better).

  • Lean Ground Beef (80/20 or higher)
  • Ground Turkey or chicken
  • Whole Chicken
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Beef Roast
  • Ribeye Steaks, NY Strip, or Sirloin (depends on budget)
  • Raw Shrimp (keep in freezer, they thaw in less than 10 7 minutes)
  • Bacon
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts
  • Pie Dough, Puff Pastry or Phyllo Dough
  • Stuffed Pasta
  • Frozen Fruits (Strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc)
  • Eggs
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Milk
  • Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Horseradish
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Salsa
  • Mozzarella
  • Parmesan
  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Salad Dressing (Italian, Honey Mustard, or Ranch can also be incorporated into various recipes and marinades )

I know this list may seem overwhelming to some.  Don’t stress! Alot of these items will be used by the teaspoon or tablespoon and may only need to be replaced every three to six months.  Start slow and add what you can to get to a fully stocked & well-functioning pantry. 

Once you have stocked your pantry, all of the nonperishable stuff that sits in your cupboard becomes an opportunity and is really important in making your food taste great! Now when you bring home a nice filet of cod, or beef, or salmon, you can take it to Italy, Spain, the Caribbean, or China simply by using certain spices and herbs from your pantry.  This is what makes cooking fun and exciting! So enjoy, relax, get creative, and sit down together at the dinner table!


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