Pantry Stocking Basics

Stocking your pantry with the right foods makes figuring out “what’s for dinner?” more simple and approachable. Especially during quarantine, having a stocked pantry is necessary because getting to the store is harder, and we need recipes and ingredients ready and waiting for quick meals. Here is a guide to how to stock your pantry for the quarantine winter days ahead.


  • Assess what is already in your pantry.  Get rid of anything a year old or older.
  • Use your senses.  If it looks, smells, or tastes “off” it is.  Toss it.
  • Organize what remains in a way that makes sense to you (see tips below).
  • Make a list to re-stock!  The rule here is stock your pantry mostly with what you’re confident using, and what you love to eat. Make it your own.


  • People have all different styles, so your way of organizing your pantry is up to you, and it may take some time to figure that out.  Group things together that make sense to YOU.
  • If you can’t see it, you’re probably not going to use it. Make as many things visible as possible.
  • Keep a roll of painter’s tape and some permanent markers in a kitchen drawer so you make quick labels if needed.
  • Choose some favorite pantry recipes and organize them whether in a notebook or in an app so you can refer to them when you aren’t sure what to make.


Oils and vinegars: Extra-virgin olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar or white-wine vinegar.

Cans and jars: Tuna, salmon, or sardines, tomatoes (diced, strained, sauce, paste, sundried, etc.), chicken stock or vegetable stock, beans (black, kidney, white, etc.), chickpeas, olives/capers, coconut milk, roasted red peppers, pickles.

Spices and dried herbs: Kosher salt, red-pepper flakes, ground cayenne, curry powder, chili powder, bay leaves, black peppercorns, sweet paprika, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, garlic powder or granulated garlic, dried parsley, thyme, dill, oregano, etc.

Grains and starches: Rice (white, brown, wild), quinoa, polenta, oats, farro, popcorn, dry pasta, dry lentils, dry beans.

Nuts & seeds and butters: Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and all the corresponding nut and seed butters!

Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, fruit jams and preserves, sugar (see baking for varieties).

Condiments and sauces:  Mustard (yellow or Dijon), mayonnaise, hot sauce, salsa, tamari/soy sauce, salsas.

Produce: Garlic, ginger, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes (butternut, acorn, delicata, spaghetti squash) and heartier fruit like apples.

Dairy: Eggs, butter, cheeses (cheddar, jack or colby, parmesan).

Freezer: Chicken and other meats, fish fillets and other seafood, veggies (broccoli, corn, peas, etc), berries (and other fruit such as peaches and mango), homemade broth.

Baking: Flours (whatever you like to bake with), cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, pure vanilla extract, brown sugar, granulated sugar, bittersweet baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, raisins or another dried fruit, cocoa powder.

This is just a starter list. Choose what you love and stock it! Add other items and take out others. Customize and create a pantry of food staples that you love. And for more ideas of what to make with your pantry items, see more blog posts on this topic to come!

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