Must-Have Pantry Staples

Must-Have Pantry Staples

Keeping your pantry well stocked is like having “kitchen insurance” that can save you time, money, and frustration. Maybe you have experienced one of these situations: You didn’t get around to grocery shopping this week and your carefully thought out meal plan ended 2 days ago, or it’s 10pm and you’re craving homemade chocolate chip cookies but after preheating the oven you realize that you are out of sugar, or your partner ran into an old friend and invited him and his family over for dinner…tonight! In all of these scenarios, disappointment, panic, or an expensive Postmates delivery could be avoided by keeping your must-have pantry staples always on hand.

It’s a good idea to expand your concept of ‘pantry’ to include all long-term storage items whether they are kept in a cabinet, refrigerator, or freezer. Even though every home cook’s essential ingredients might be a little different based on space, skill level, and food preferences, here are some of the basic kitchen must-haves you should never run out of.


Canned beans, veggies, and soup base can be a quick, healthy, and satisfying meal after a hectic day.  Ensuring that all of the ingredients for your go-to peanut butter cookie recipe are always on hand will enable you to be the hero when there’s an impromptu playdate at your house. Most unopened shelf-stable pantry items can last a long time, but they don’t last forever. You can put a repeating reminder in your Artful Agenda twice a year to go through the pantry and get rid of expired items and take note of ones that will be expiring soon. 

  • Baking Essentials: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate chips, yeast, vanilla
  • Grains & Starches: noodles, rice, pasta, breadcrumbs, rolled oats
  • Cans & Jars: soup base, tomatoes, tuna, nut butter, beans, veggies
  • Condiments & Sweeteners: soy sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, honey, maple syrup


Without seasonings and spices all of our meals would taste flat and unappetizing! Exactly what herbs and spices are essential for your spice cabinet will depend on your family’s food preferences, especially if you tend to cook ethnic foods frequently. When making your weekly meal plan in Artful Agenda, review what seasonings you will need and check to see if it is time to restock them. For best flavor, it is a good idea to replace opened herbs and spices after six months. Get in the habit of writing the date you open them with a permanent marker on the bottom of the container. 

  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, paprika, cinnamon, garlic powder
  • Herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, bay leaves
  • Oils & Vinegars: olive oil, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar 


Keeping quick thawing cuts of meat and seafood in your freezer can save the day, or dinner at least! Repackaging larger packs of boneless chicken or ground meats into smaller, flat portions will let you make a meal in a flash even if you forgot to thaw them earlier in the day. Simply defrost in the microwave or give them a hot water bath while prepping the rest of the meal. If you don’t even have time for that, whip up an omelet or frittata for a dinner-for-breakfast crowd pleaser.

  • Dairy: eggs, butter, cheeses, plain yogurt, milk or cream for cooking (not skim)
  • Meats: boneless chicken pieces, ground meat (turkey, beef, sausage), fish filets, shrimp
  • Frozen fruits & vegetables: greens (spinach, kale), corn, peas, broccoli florets, berries, tropical fruits (pineapple, mango, banana)

H. O. T. T. I. P. After making your meal plan for the week, create events in Artful Agenda with alarm notifications to remind yourself to take things out of the freezer the night before or start the crock pot in the morning before you leave the house.


So many great dishes start with the aromatics.  You will be limiting your recipe choices if you run out of them. Having a supply of garlic and onions to saute in EVOO will allow you to prepare all kinds of delicious meals! Restocking your fruit bowl weekly and having a stash of nuts in your cupboard will keep healthy snacks close at hand and discourage you from seeking out processed foods when the afternoon munchies hit. Even having lemons and limes to add to your water and using the convenient water tracker in your Artful Agenda can encourage you to drink more water and steer clear of sugary beverages.

  • Root & allium vegetables: Potatoes, carrots, garlic, onions
  • Fruit: lemons, limes, apples, bananas, seasonal fruits
  • Nuts: peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios

When creating your next grocery list in Artful Agenda don’t forget to include your must-have pantry staples to be prepared for any food emergency!

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