Stocking Your Pantry: 10 Items You Should Always Have Available For Use

Stocking Your Pantry: 10 Items You Should Always Have Available For UseHas it ever happened that a recipe asks for say, tomato sauce, but when you go to your pantry, you notice you don’t have any left? Having to run to the grocery store in the middle of cooking can become a hassle, especially if you have hungry guests you are trying to impress.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you always have these 10 items in your pantry.


You should always have at least one type of oil in your pantry. Whether it is extra-virgin olive, canola, or vegetable, oil is an essential ingredient in many recipes. For instance, olive oil is not only great for everyday cooking, it can also be used to make salad dressing.

Check out this Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing recipe from

Canola or vegetable oil is great to use for cooking and baking. From basic sautéed chicken, to baked favorites like cookies and cakes, these oils are a staple in any kitchen.


Vinegar is another go-to ingredient that is widely used in cooking and baking, including in salad dressings, turning milk into buttermilk substitute, and in many marinades.

According to, “Red and white wine vinegars are more ‘everyday’ vinegars. They are good for salad dressings and marinades. Red wine vinegar is best used with heartier flavors and foods, like beef, pork, and vegetables. White wine vinegar is best for chicken and fish dishes.”

Other vinegars include apple cider vinegar, which is mild and inexpensive, and most often used in salad dressings and marinades; rice vinegar, which is popular in Asian cooking; and distilled vinegar, which has a sharp and unpleasant taste (this vinegar is best used for cleaning purposes).

For more great ways to take advantage of the vinegar in your pantry, check out this helpful post that offers 150+ household uses for vinegar courtesy of

Soy Sauce

Made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, roasted grain and other ingredients, soy sauce is a popular Asian condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir fry to fry rice. It also works as a tasty topping for beef, chicken and other meats., for example, features a recipe for delicious Soy Marinated Flank Steak that pairs perfectly with Tomato Salad or Marinated Zucchini with Mint. Check out the recipes here.

Dried Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs such as thyme, basil, rosemary, and oregano can add flavor to any meal. In fact, using herbs instead of salt is a great way to add flavor without all the added sodium. Dried spices such as garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and paprika can add that extra kick every meal needs.

Canned Tomato Products

Tomatoes are a staple ingredient in many recipes. That’s why canned tomato products such as tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and sun dried tomatoes are must-have items in any cook’s pantry.

You can use canned tomato products to make your own spaghetti sauce like in this recipe featured on


For those with a sweet tooth, honey is the perfect replacement for white sugar. Honey is a great natural sweetener that serves as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant. Honey has also been found to help those who suffer from respiratory tract infections.

Use honey as a sugar replacement when baking, or use it to naturally sweeten a hot cup of tea.

Baking Products

Whether you’re a novice or expert baker, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and pure vanilla extract are essential ingredients to keep in your pantry.

Flour, specifically, is a very versatile item that can be used when baking, as well as in cooking a variety of meals like this Crispy Fried Chicken recipe found on

Canned Tuna

Tuna is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a long shelf life, so it’s perfect when making a quick salad or sandwich in a rush.


Grains such as rice and pasta are great sources of fiber, and are also easy to cook. Use rice for yummy vegetarian recipes like this Summer Veggie Rice Bowl featured on

Pasta can be boiled and tossed with any meat or vegetable as a quick and easy meal. Looking to add a bit of nutrients to your diet? Opt for whole grains instead of white.


Did you know that chicken broth is one of the most common ingredients called for in recipes? You can use it anywhere from making soups to preparing casseroles. Other broths such as beef and vegetable are also great ways to enhance the flavor of your meat, and are extremely useful in slow cooker recipes. What’s even better? Canned broth has a long shelf life.

Organizing Your Pantry

Now that you have some pantry staples, it’s time to keep yourself organized. First, make sure to go over all items you have in your pantry. Check for expiration dates, and throw out anything that can no longer be used. If, on the other hand, you find non-expired items that you rarely use, consider donating them to your local food bank to make space for items you DO use.

Next, arrange your items so that everything is easy to find. Elizabeth Larkin, blogger for, suggests, “Arrange items properly for easy access and space-savings. Consider dividing the items into sections, a section for baking products, grains, condiments, herbs and spices, etc. This way, whenever you need something while you cook, you will know exactly where to find it.”

By organizing yourself and having must-have ingredients in your pantry, you’ll find cooking is more fun for both you and your family. What are your some of your favorite pantry staples?

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