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Pantry Stocking: YOUR opinions

You see everyone's ideal pantry stocking of dry goods and flavorings, etc in their cookbooks...but what about us real chefs/home-cooks/wannabes?

What do you always keep on hand that you know you can always turn to to deliver a great meal? Do you keep things that have been considered by your grandmom's mom to be in-substituteable (if that's a word...haha), or do you have other staples in your pantry?

Care to share?

Here's some of my basics:


AP Flour
SR Flour
Brown Sugar
Brown Beans
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Yeast Packets
Sweet Baking Chips (chocolate, PB, etc)
Garlic Salt
Salt (Kosher/Sea/Iodized)
Pepper (Powdered and Whole)
An assortment of pastas.


Vanilla (Pure and Extract)
Hot Sauces (all types)
Canned chilis/pimientos
Canned tomatoes for sauces
Diced tomatoes
Beans and veggies (frozen)

Okay...so, is this pretty good, or what would you do differently?

I'd LOVE to compare with you guys/gals.


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  1. I wouldn't do anything differently! But I always have Mrs. Dash, Montreal Steak Seasoning, garlic powder, broth (chicken, beef, and veg), and lemon juice in addition to the things you've listed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amandaqtpie

      Excellent suggestions Amanda, and stuff that I always do seem to need, too...thanks!

    2. To add to your list:
      Cooking oil (canola/veg, peanut, corn, sometimes grapeseed)
      Olive oil
      Sesame oil
      Soy sauce
      Oyster sauce
      Vinegar (cider, red wine, rice)
      Ketchup (for the boys)
      Dijon mustard
      Garbanzo beans (canned)
      Tuna (canned)

      2 Replies
      1. re: who_me

        More excellent suggestions...thanks!

        I've never used Oyster Sauce though...or had a recipe call for it?

        Isn't that an oriental flavoring, or can it go "beyond" oriental food?

        1. re: akcskye

          Not just for asian cuisine enjoy oyster sauce on a steak, pork chops or roast,and grilled or roasted chicken.

      2. I love this topic!

        Actually, I think my overlap with my grandma is pretty slim. It all depends what you cook!

        I don't usually have baking chips on hand because I'd eat them if they were there, and I keep a package of instant dry yeast in my freezer (it costs about the same as two 3-packs of yeast, and yields way more, and can obviously be used in variable quantities more easily). I have honey (4 kinds at last count) and maple syrup (grade A and B) as well as brown and white sugar. I really must have maple syrup around.

        Additionally, I virtually always have oil (plus butter in the frig/freezer), several types of flour (inc whole wheat and chickpea), oatmeal, cocoa powder, four kinds of rice at the moment (yeah, I know), various other starches (bulgur and couscous, I think), dried fruits (raisins, prunes, dates and apricots), nuts (almonds, walnuts, and others as required) and canned coconut milk.

        I've got some other extracts hanging around (almond, lemon, etc, and anise oil which my grandma insisted I buy to make some cookies but rarely sees the light of day, plus rose water and the more rarely used orange flower water). I have a wide range of spices [black pepper, powdered ginger, chili powder, green cardamom (pods + powdered), whole nutmeg, cloves (whole + powdered), cumin (seeds + powder), coriander (seeds + powdered), anise seeds, fennel seeds, dried mint, plus spice mixes, both purchased and mixed and ground by me, and some other spices I use on occasion but not often] and usually have tamarind in block form.

        I also keep several types of dried beans and lentils on hand as well as cans of beans for quick cooking.

        I also keep condiments like soy sauce, vinegars, ketchup, jams, peanut butter, and salsa around in my frig, and cans of tomato paste in addition to canned tomatoes. I try to have tahini around because my son used to be hummus crazed and the jar of tahini takes me a long time to go through.

        I also have expanded my "pantry" to include my freezer, where I also try to pre-cook ground onions for faster cooking during cooking emergencies, and frozen chopped herbs. I like having frozen berries, but I'm not sure if this is really a "pantry" item?

        1. Great lists.

          Tomato paste
          Spices (paprika, cayenne, chili powder, etc etc etc)
          Canned beets, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, olives
          Nori (seawood)
          Japanese curry

          1. A quick rummage through my pantry shows:
            Dry: all-purpose flour, corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, Splenda, white sugar, brown sugar, gelatin, rice (wild, basmati, jasmine), bulgur wheat, couscous, pasta (linguine, macaroni), nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, slivered almonds), dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, apricots), bouillon (beef, chicken, vegetable), sugar free pudding (pistachio, butterscotch, white chocolate)

            Wet: Coconut milk, corn syrup, vanilla extract, orange extract, oil (corn, canola, sesame, olive, peanut, chili, wok), vinegar (cider, white, red wine, chardonnay, chili)

            Seasonings: Cinnamon (ground and whole), allspice, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, ground ginger, thyme, oregano, yellow mustard, black mustard, bay leaves, cayenne, red chilies, paprika, black pepper (coarse ground, fine ground, whole), salt (table, seasoned and sea), garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, achiote

            Canned: tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, tuna, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, creamed corn, SPAM, corned beef, anchovies, curry paste (red, penang, green), beef stew, lentil soup

            If I went through my fridge and freezer, there'd be even more basic goods, though I'm still a ways off from my ideal larder as a few of the dry goods and most of the canned goods are my roommate's.

            1. I just did an inventory of my pantry in a word document while cleaning it out (tired of buying stuff that I already had) and came up with 231 ingredients without getting to my refrigerator - yes, I'm nuts.

              Others have mentioned vinegars - I'd add champagne vinegar to the list - really like the flavor. Other items:

              Vanilla beans
              Duck Fat
              Oils - I'd add hazelnut and or walnut oil to the other suggestions. I also usually have a variety of olive oils - French, Spanish, Italian - ones I use to cook with and ones I use to finish things with.
              Salts - all sorts - fleur de sel, kosher (fine and coarse), even found some chili salt that I bought and have no idea what to do with, along with some hibiscus Spanish sea salt that I bought on a whim as well.
              Dark/bittersweet chocolate

              Diced tomatoes - not a fan - prefer to cut up the whole canned ones.
              Vanilla extract - don't use it, though I guess I've read that there are taste tests where people couldn't tell the difference.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MMRuth

                MMRuth--do you always use a vanilla bean where vanilla extract is called for, just scraping out the seeds for things like cookies where there's nothing to steep the bean in for flavor? or maybe you don't bake much? I'm contemplating this approach and wondering how expensive it would be for someone who bakes a few times a week, like me.

                On the general topic, because I live about 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic, from a decent grocery, I keep most all the items mentioned by previous posters. I keep nuts, whole grain flours, bread for breadcrumbs, and leftover chicken and vegetable trimmings to make stock in the freezer, and have an extra refrigerator/freezer in the basement for this storage. There is no way I'd live without it out here. A trip to the grocery is a minimum hour time commitment, just to run in for a couple items. A well stocked pantry and freezer is essential. We keep beer, soda, large buys of seasonal produce (like apples now,) or large items like watermelons in the extra fridge.

                1. re: amyzan

                  Hi - I don't use vanilla beans in lieu of vanilla extract, but I used them a lot for a number of Lucques desserts over the summer, and just always seem to have one of those vials of them around - if I find them cheap somewhere etc. I don't bake much though, to answer that question. I'd kill for an extra refrigerator/freezer. Or more than two above counter cupboards! The trade off of living in Manhattan - at least I can get most of what I might need in a 3 minute walk.

              2. your lists are very comprehensive. Only items that jump out at me are capers, miso, panko & molasses.

                1. I couldn't live without lemon, onions, ginger, and garlic around. I know they're not unperishable items, but they basically act like it in my kitchen.

                  Fish sauce, vinegars, oils.
                  Pickles and chutneys (pickles in the indian/british sense, not the dill ones!)
                  Spices: particularly coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, garam masala, oregano, and thyme.
                  Stock cubes or powder for when I don't have homemade in the freezer.

                  By the way, I've heard that yeast lasts forever if you freeze it. So far, my experience seems to bear this out, so I thought I'd pass along the recommendation.

                  1. Love your topic! My list: dried whole chiles (sacred), sardines, jars of tuna in olive oil/cans of albacore in water, several jars of citron honey (I like that stuff!), jams/marmalades, peanut butter, jars of roasted bell peppers and capers...a variety of vinegars and an international plethora of pickled things: American and German pickles, saurkraut/rot kohl and Mexican pickled vegetables. I have sort of a "doomsday mentality" when it comes to stocking that pantry...*sigh...

                    1. Forgot to mention preserved lemons!

                      1. I always keep anchovy paste, tomato paste and mushrooms handy, too. Also, because I work FT and my teenage son is frequently home alone for a couple hours, I keep Prego on hand so he can make himself pasta if he gets hungry. For the same reason, there's always a block of Parmesan cheese handy for him.

                        1. I don't think canned milk has been been mentioned yet, or dried buttermilk powder--they both come in handy.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: BangorDin

                            All of these things are awesome!!! Please keep the suggestions coming...I love sharing things like this, I think it helps us all. :)

                            1. re: akcskye

                              Balsamic glaze
                              Canned diced tomatoes
                              Canned tomato paste
                              Canned sweet kernel corn
                              Canned creamed corn
                              Dried pasta (spaghetti, bowties, penne)
                              Fish sauce
                              Maple syrup (from Vermont and Canada)
                              Chicken stock/broth
                              Vegetable stock/broth
                              Beef stock/broth
                              Bread crumbs
                              Canned black beans
                              Canned brown beans
                              Brown sugar
                              Powdered sugar
                              All-purpose flour
                              Canned pumpkin
                              Chocolate chips
                              Chopped walnuts

                              Sea salt
                              Regular salt
                              Garlic powder
                              Emeril's Essence
                              Chili powder (from New Mexico)
                              Bay leaves
                              Meat tenderizer
                              Black peppercorns
                              Chicken bouillion
                              Beef bouillion
                              Pumpkin spice

                              Refrigerator (these things are always there):
                              Heavy cream
                              Lean ground beef (freezer)
                              Individual chicken breasts (freezer)

                              Everything that can be organic is...

                              1. re: BellaDonna

                                I think the same:
                                AP flour
                                Cake Flour
                                kosher salt
                                grey sea salt
                                olive oil
                                dry yeast
                                Black pepper
                                assorted spices
                                ground chipotle powder
                                live, wet bread starter
                                plain yogurt
                                individual chicken breasts
                                frozen berries
                                Australian red wine