I enjoy cooking. I also enjoy not running to the store everyday to get that ONE item I don’t have for the recipe I want to make. Having the freedom to whip something up on the fly makes cooking more enjoyable for me; I enjoy spontaneous cooking. This Ultimate Pantry Staples Checklist will help you be prepared for those last minute dinners, desserts, and other delicious items. I realize this pantry staples checklist is big, but please don’t be intimidated. It’s all about attacking it in little pieces.
Pantry stocking can be intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out, but it doesn’t have to be. The good news for the budget-conscious among us is you don’t have to stock your pantry all at one time, which means more $$ for other important things.
Because my pantry on any given day contains most of these items, I can generally prepare some form of tasty sustenance without having to set aside time that day to go to the store, buy stuff, come home, or unpack it.
It didn’t happen overnight for me, so I’m betting it won’t happen overnight for you either, but it’s totally worth it, and makes it easier to say “yes!” to cooking at home for better health and saving money in the long run.
I’ve been working on my pantry stocking skills for a long time, and I did it by abiding by these tips:
Tip #1: Make a habit of going to the store for ingredients you need for a recipe, but picking up say, 3 cans of chickpeas instead of just the one you need that night. Then, each time you go to the store, add 1 or 2 extra items to your cart on your pantry staples checklist that fall under the shelf stable category.
Tip #2: Keep an eye out for sales! If you see your store has vegetable stock 2 for 1 when you’re at the store, stock up while the price is cheap!
Tip #3: Bulk Bins! If you have a grocery store that has a bulk section, take advantage of it! For instance, it’s usually cheaper to buy rolled oats in bulk.
Tip #4: When buying spices, again, look for bulk bins! These are loose spices that you bag yourself and take home. You can save big money here depending on what’s available in your area, so the bulk spices are definitely worth checking out.
Tip #5: Bonus: as you use up your “pre-bottled” spices, SAVE THE JARS. When you go to get those bulk spices, buy enough to fill your existing container. This saves you the upfront cost of buying those spice jars at the store – which can be really $$$.
Tip #6: Check Asian grocery stores or Big Box Stores for large quantities of items like rice vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, chili paste, and other non-perishable items – these places get lots of traffic from local restaurants, and carry bigger containers for less money, which is good news for you, since you’ll spend less hard earned cash on packaging and less time and gas money running to the store at the last minute because you just realized you’re out of soy sauce.
Finally, this pantry staples checklist is what you would find in MY pantry on a given day, but your needs may be different. Customize it to your own tastes!
Need a printer friendly version to take with you to the store? Download the Ultimate Pantry Staples Printable List
The Garlic Hussy’s Ultimate Pantry Staples Checklist
Dry & Canned Goods
- Flour: AP & whole wheat
- Sugar: white, brown, powdered
- Old fashioned (rolled oats)
- Rice: brown, basmati, jasmine
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Canned beans: chickpeas, great northern, black, pinto, kidney
- Canned petite diced tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Tomato sauce
- Coconut milk (lite & full fat)
- Canned pure pumpkin
- Lentils – red & yellow
- Pasta – fettuccine, spaghetti, macaroni, shells
Oils, Sauces, Condiments, etc.
- Vegetable oil, extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, cooking spray
- White vinegar, apple cider, red wine, balsamic, rice vinegar
- Low sodium vegetable broth
- Low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- Worcestershire sauce (need a vegan version? Try this vegan worcestershire sauce)
- Chili Garlic Paste or Sambal Olek
- REAL Maple Syrup
- Yellow and Dijon mustard
- Garlic Powder
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Smoke paprika
- Yellow curry powder (Curry powders vary WIDELY in flavor. I happen to really like the McCormicks version. I buy the large jars now, because I make curried potato fries often.)
- Chili Powder
- Garam Masala
- Dill Weed
- Cocoa Powder
- Vanilla extract
- Almond Extract
- frozen peas
- mixed peas and carrots
- assorted frozen fruit
- Almond or Soy Milk, unsweetened, unflavored
- Orange juice
- Mayonaise (need a vegan option? Try this one)
- Non-dairy butter substitute
- Non-dairy yogurt
- Tofu – silken and non-silken
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh ginger root
- Russet potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Red bell pepper
- Green onion
- Red onion
- Yellow onion
- Mixed greens or baby spinach