Looking for healthy pantry staples to stock your kitchen? Try this list and have endless meal potential at your fingertips.
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Imagine having a craving for a particular meal and breathing a sigh of relief knowing that you can make it because your pantry, freezer, and fridge and stocked with basic ingredients. That's the beauty of stocking pantry staples. I find that having a well stocked pantry is essential to a "real food" kitchen. It helps keep the grocery budget down, helps with meal planning, and makes quick fix meals much easier since you already have essential items on hand. Lastly, I find that it also just makes good sense to have a good stock of food staples on hand for emergency situations. You never know what life will bring. It can take a while to build up your pantry staples, but once you do, you will love it!
To build your inventory without having to spend a fortune, I recommend setting aside a small amount out of your grocery budget but buy a few items every week. It is even better if you look through your grocery fliers and find ones on sale. If spices are on sale, buy several!
Also this is what I include in my pantry staples list because these are the items that I use the most. Yours may look different than mine depending on what you and your family like as well as your dietary needs. We are all different, so please don't get hung up on the details. It may be helpful for you to make a list of the ten most frequently cooked meals in your home and make sure you always have those items stocked.
Pantry Staples List
Basic spices are essential to every kitchen. No one wants bland food! If you are on a budget, I would recommend simply starting with a good quality salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Much can be seasoned with those three basics. From there, think about what meals your family eats the most frequently and prioritize spices that you use the most in your cooking. If you cook lots of Mexican inspired dishes, chili powder and cumin may be top priorities. If your family enjoys Italian dishes, basil and oregano may be spices on your must-have short list. Regularly check your spices to make sure they aren't expired and losing flavor. These are spices that I keep in my spice drawer.
- bay leaves
- cayenne pepper
- chili powder
- curry powder
- garlic powder
- red pepper flakes
Baking goods will vary depending on your diet. If you eat a Paleo diet, you will likely have no need for white flour, but you may go crazy over almond or cassava flour. Again, this is going to be individualized, but you will basically want some sweeteners, flours, leavening agents, and thickening agents that fit with your diet.
- real maple syrup
- sugar: organic cane sugar, coconut sugar
- flour: sprouted, whole grain, unbleached white, almond, coconut, rice, cassava, oat
- baking soda
- baking powder
- cocoa powder
- chocolate chips
- arrowroot powder or non-GMO cornstarch
- grass-fed beef gelatin and collagen
Fats and Vinegars
Oils and vinegars are essential to have on hand for cooking, salad dressings, and to add acidic flavoring. Find what you like and stick to it.
- coconut oil: expeller pressed (no coconut taste) and virgin unrefined
- olive oil
- avocado oil
- quality animal fats
- Vinegars: balsamic, white, apple cider, red wine
Canned and jarred food
I don't keep a ton of canned food in my pantry staples, but they are very handy to have for emergency food and quick no-prep meals when you forget to thaw meat or if the power goes out. Even if you keep dry beans on hand, canned are also good to have for these reasons.
- tomato products: puree, diced, paste, jarred pre-made marinara
- coconut milk
- canned tuna
- canned salmon
- canned beans
- dried fruit
To me this section is the heart of the pantry staples. Cheap nutritious dry goods with a long shelf life are essential to have on hand. I love purchasing my bulk dry goods such as grains, beans, and gluten-free pasta from Azure Standard because I can get large quantities and organic goods at fair prices.
- dry beans: white, black, red, pinto, chickpeas
- natural nut or seed butter: peanut, almond or sunflower seed butter
- pasta- various shapes
- nuts: almonds, macadamia, brazil, peanuts, walnuts, pecans (keep in the freezer for maximum freshness)
- seeds: chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp
Long Lasting Vegetables
Of course I buy fresh produce every single week, but there are several vegetables that have a long shelf life and don't require refrigeration. They make great pantry staples to always have on hand.
- sweet potatoes
- hard winter squashes
In the Freezer
The freezer is also a great place to keep a stock of versatile ingredients. For example, frozen vegetables make great nutritious fast side dishes and are easy to add to soups and casseroles in a pinch.
- frozen fruit
- frozen veggies: corn, peas, spinach, green beans, cauliflower rice, okra, etc
- meat: grass-fed beef, whole chicken, chicken breast and thighs, shrimp, various fish, pork
- Homemade chicken and beef stock
In the Refrigerator
Don't go crazy here buying all the condiments, but instead focus on the ones that you use frequently. I also always keep eggs on hand for breakfast or a quick protein source for lunches and dinners.
- breakfast meat
- whole milk or milk alternative
- butter or ghee
- soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
- fish sauce
- yogurt or kefir
- hot sauce
Now it's your turn! What do you always keep on hand? Is there anything very different than mine above? Leave your thoughts in the comments.