Bonus Post: My Pantry Basics

Bonus Post:  My Pantry Basics

One of Jon’s co-workers asked me for this after he brought in some leftovers one day.  I think it was West African Peanut Soup.  Usually even something that seems exotic is actually very easy and requires very few ingredients you need to go out and buy. 

This is my list of basics, things that I always try to have on hand.  When you’re searching for recipes and you cook from scratch, it is much easier to decide what to cook when you already have a stocked pantry. 

One thing I love to do is go shopping based on my pantry basics.  Then I get home and search Pinterest based on what I feel like using.  For instance, a search for “chicken and black beans” will give you everything from enchiladas to soups and burrito bowls.  And if you shop based on my pantry basics, you’ll probably have everything else you need to make whatever you choose.  And the good thing about cooking is that you can almost always substitute.  You can always substitute brown rice for white, or honey for maple syrup, or parsley for cilantro (but not always cilantro for parsley).  Whatever, just go with it. 

Also, when it comes to produce, always buy what is on sale.  That is when it will taste the best, because it means it’s in season.  Do not buy strawberries in October or Brussels sprouts in April.  They will have traveled a long distance and will taste like nothing.  Just wait until they start to show up in the bins with the cheapest prices.  I’ll try to mostly post my recipes by season. 

I’m also going to link a few great articles here.  

This one will tell you which produce you should buy organic and which you shouldn’t worry about. 

And this one will tell you when different kinds of produce are in season at which times. 

Here are my pantry basics, divided into categories:


Grains and starches:

Brown Rice

Jasmine Rice

Long pasta (linguine, spaghetti, etc)

Short pasta (penne, rotini, etc)

Potatoes (whatever kind is on sale)



Canned food:

Beans (black, kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, pinto, re-fried, etc)

Tomatoes (crushed, diced, etc)



Cream of mushroom soup

Cream of chicken soup

Crushed pineapple

coconut milk


Sauces and condiments:

Jars of marinara sauce

Peanut butter


Barbecue sauce

Vinegars (rice wine, balsamic, white wine, red wine, white, etc)


Chicken base

Vegetable base

Hot sauce

Dijon mustard

Soy sauce

Worchestire sauce


Real maple syrup



Oils and baking:

Veg oil

Coconut oil

Olive oil

Pam spray

Brown sugar

White sugar

Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc)



Corn muffin mix

Baking Powder

Baking Soda



Always garlic, onions, lemons, and other citrus. Other than that, buy what is on sale because that is what is in season.

Always some kind of salad greens, whatever you like or is on sale.

Always some kind of fresh herbs, whatever you like. Parsley goes with everything.


Meats frozen and portioned out for your family:

Chicken breasts

Bone in, skin on chicken thighs

Ground beef, turkey, or chicken

Boneless pork chops



Ricotta or cream cheese

Parmesan cheese wedge

Cheddar cheese block

Mozzarella cheese block

Salty or soft cheese (blue, goat, or feta)



Sour cream



Spice cabinet:

Vanilla extract

Garlic powder


Onion powder



Chili powder

Curry powder







Ground ginger


Salt and Pepper



Frozen peas

Raw plain nuts (almonds are versatile)


[originally posted 8/17/2016]

[updated 3/18/2017]