Pantry Essentials Checklist



Dried pasta in jars on a shelf

Photo by: Sumners Graphics, Inc.

Sumners Graphics, Inc.

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge is like money in the bank. With basic supplies on hand, you'll be equally prepared to put together a family-friendly meal or a last-minute dinner for friends. The trick is figuring out what to lay by and what you can live without.

Consider the checklist below a rough sketch; only you can determine the essentials based on the predilections of your crew. Trying to cut back on meat? Skip the Italian sausage and swap in frozen wild-caught shrimp. Don't like peanut butter? Pick up a tub of hummus instead. The idea is to make sure you have enough proteins and sturdy vegetables to pull together several satisfying meals, plus some flavorful condiments and seasonings to keep things interesting (even on a school night).

Whatever you decide to toss in your shopping cart, you can rest happy knowing you won't ever again have to call spaghetti with butter dinner — unless that's exactly what you're in the mood for.



  • Kosher salt
  • Fine salt
  • Black peppercorns
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic or sherry vinegar
  • Rice vinegar (unseasoned)


  • Flour: all purpose, whole wheat or pastry
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cream of tartar
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Chocolate: chips or bar
  • Evaporated milk
  • Pure vanilla extract


  • Granulated sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Agave syrup


  • Coffee
  • Tea

Rice and Grains

  • Long-grain white rice
  • Brown rice
  • Grains: bulgur, quinoa, couscous or farro
  • Pasta: standard, whole grain, rice noodles or egg noodles
  • Polenta
  • Breadcrumbs: plain or panko

Snacks and Cereals

  • Crackers
  • Tortillas
  • Cookies or biscuits
  • Pretzels
  • Marshmallows
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Dried fruit: raisins, apricots or cherries
  • Seeds: sunflower, flax, chia or hemp
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Applesauce
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Old-fashioned rolled oats

Canned Goods

  • Chicken broth
  • Beans: cannellini, navy, chickpeas or black
  • Vegetables: hominy, corn or green beans
  • Olives or capers
  • Chiles: chipotles in adobo or pickled jalapenos
  • Salsa
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Tuna
  • Anchovy fillets or paste

Dried Herbs and Spices

  • Bay leaves
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Curry powder
  • Fennel or dill seed
  • Granulated garlic
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground ginger
  • Oregano
  • Paprika: sweet and smoked
  • Rosemary
  • Sesame seeds
  • Thyme
  • Whole nutmeg



Dairy and Eggs

  • Milk
  • Plain yogurt: regular or Greek
  • Unsalted butter
  • Cheddar or mozzarella
  • Goat cheese
  • Parmesan (wedge)
  • Eggs

Fresh Produce

  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes: grape, cherry or seasonal beefsteak
  • Broccoli or cauliflower
  • Bell peppers
  • Leafy greens: spinach, kale or chard
  • Lettuce: romaine, Boston or mixed greens
  • Flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  • Thyme
  • Scallions
  • Gingerroot
  • Potatoes: sweet, white or new
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Apples
  • Bananas


  • Jelly, jam or preserves
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard: Dijon or whole grain
  • Pickles
  • Hot sauce: Tabasco, Sriracha or sambal
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Asian fish sauce
  • Toasted sesame oil


  • Ground beef, ground turkey or Italian sausage
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Bacon
  • Bread: baguette or sandwich bread
  • Vegetables: peas, chopped spinach or corn
  • Fruit: berries, peaches or mangos
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • Dough: pizza, pie or puff pastry
  • Vanilla ice cream
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