How to Stock Your Pantry: A Guide for the Home Cook

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Whether you’re trying to get into the culinary world for the first time or you’re just trying to get more control over your current pantry, this article will help you gain better control over this crazy and endless world of ingredients.

stocking pantry

Storage rooms can be overwhelming. There seem to be endless options, especially when it comes to herbs and spices. Basic cooking techniques can cover a wide variety of dishes, but the ingredients you use can vary widely. I recommend stocking your pantry according to the kind of cooking you are interested in.

Basic Pantry Staples

  • Salt – Table salt is the most commonly used salt in recipes. Sea salt has larger crystals and is best used as a finishing salt. Salt should be stored away from moisture.
  • Black Pepper – You can buy ground pepper or a jar of peppercorns and grind them in a spice grinder. Peppers should be stored away from moisture.
  • Garlic – Garlic is sold in bulbs. Look for tightly bound bulbs. Minced and crushed garlic can also be purchased in jars, which vary in quality. Garlic is best when fresh, but pre-chopped and pre-crushed garlic can also be used. Garlic should be stored in a dry place at room temperature.
  • Onions – Red, white, yellow, and sweet onions are the most common varieties. White and yellow onions are most commonly used in cooking. Red onions can be cooked, but are usually eaten raw. Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • All-Purpose Flour – This flour is finely ground wheat flour. It can be purchased bleached or unbleached. Flour should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.
  • Granulated sugar – This fine cane sugar is a versatile sugar that can be used in cooking and baking. Sugar should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
  • Eggs – Eggs can be purchased in different sizes and colors. The color of the case doesn’t matter, but the size does. Most recipes call for large eggs. Eggs should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is the highest quality olive oil and should be free from defects. It is the most versatile olive oil and can be used as a cooking oil, or drizzled over fresh. Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
  • Chicken Stock or Broth – Chicken stock or stock is a liquid seasoned with chicken, bones, and herbs. It can be purchased in cans or boxes, or it can be made from scratch. Fresh chicken broth or the liquid from an open can or box should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or frozen.

In addition to these basic pantry staples, there are other items you can stock in your pantry based on the cuisines you’re interested in. A well-stocked pantry should have basic pantry staples, baking staples, and at least one dish staple.

Baked Pantry Staples

  • light brown sugar
  • powdered sugar
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • corn starch
  • instant dry yeast
  • Chocolate (milk, semisweet, unsweetened)
  • butter, unsalted
  • heavy cream
  • vegetable shortening
  • vegetable oil

Italian Pantry Staples

  • basil, dried and/or fresh
  • oregano, dried and/or fresh
  • parsley, dried and/or fresh
  • rosemary, dried and/or fresh
  • sage, dried and/or fresh
  • Thyme, dried and/or fresh
  • balsamic vinegar
  • canned tomatoes
  • canned olives
  • cornmeal
  • dry pasta
  • red wine
  • Liquor
  • wheat flour

latin pantry staple

  • dried chili
  • chili
  • paprika
  • ground cinnamon
  • cumin powder
  • avocado
  • coriander
  • green onions
  • lemon
  • lime
  • Tomatillos
  • Adobo Mexican Cheese
  • black beans, dried or canned
  • pinto beans, dried or canned
  • sausage
  • Rice (long-grain or short-grain white rice)
  • tortillas, corn or flour
  • Tequila

French Pantry Staples

  • basil, fresh or dried
  • mustard powder
  • Herbs de Provence, fresh or dried
  • parsley, fresh or dried
  • rosemary, fresh or dried
  • tarragon, fresh or dried
  • carrot
  • celery
  • Chinese chives
  • shallots
  • white wine vinegar
  • red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • unsalted butter
  • heavy cream
  • red wine
  • Liquor
  • port wine

Asian pantry staples

  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • ginger, grated or fresh
  • lemon grass
  • lime
  • coriander
  • chili sauce
  • fish sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • i am willow
  • sesame oil
  • oyster sauce
  • coconut milk
  • curry paste
  • Noodles (soup, chicken, ramen, rice, meat)
  • jasmine rice
  • peanut oil
  • sake

American pantry staples

  • basil, fresh or dried
  • oregano, fresh or dried
  • chili
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • mustard powder
  • cornmeal
  • yellow mustard
  • ketchup
  • mayonnaise
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • vegetable oil
  • Honey
  • apple cider vinegar
  • Chicken and Beef Stock
  • beer
  • bourbon
  • white and red wine