Stocking Your Pantry – The Basics

As you cook more, you’ll probably figure out which things you consider essential or helpful to keep on hand. For the raw beginner, I’ve created a list with some basic ingredients to get you started stocking your pantry. The majority are non-perishable items with long shelf-lives.


  • Fruit and vegetables that you like
  • Rice (I like brown rice as my go-to)
  • Lentils (if you’re not sure what kind, get green lentils)
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes (e.g. diced)
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Nut butter
  • Eggs
  • Milk (dairy or non-dairy, whatever you use most often)
  • Onions (my go-to are yellow)
  • Garlic
  • Bread
  • Olive oil
  • A neutral-flavored vegetable oil such as sunflower, canola, or soybean
  • A solid fat such as coconut oil, butter, or margarine


  • Salt
  • Black pepper (get whole peppercorns and a grinder for best flavor)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Soy sauce and/or liquid aminos
  • Sesame oil
  • Some savory spices you enjoy (not sure? start with some basil, oregano, a medium curry powder, chili powder and/or cayenne, paprika, cumin, garlic and/or onion powder, and bay leaves)

Stocking Your Pantry For Baking

  • Unbleached white flour
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Light brown sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Salt
  • Dry active yeast
  • Pure vanilla extract (imitation is cheaper, but it’s just not the same)
  • Some spices/extracts you enjoy (not sure? start with ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and almond extract)


A couple things to keep in mind:

Pantry essentials look vastly different depending what cuisine your work in most, and depending on your tastes and dietary restrictions. This is a very loose guide based on how I usually cook, and is intended to be customized heavily as you get your bearings.

You definitely do not need to purchase everything in one go, and many of these things will last a long time. Sure, that vanilla extract might seem expensive, but you’ll make many numerous things with that one bottle.

Next, brush up on some of the basics of good food hygiene with this article!