*For a printable version, click here (although the links won’t be accessible in that view)

Canned Goods:

Diced tomatoes

(Hunt’s brand – mostly because I can buy cans in bulk at Sam’s Club)

Used mostly in Spaghetti Sauce, Homemade Pizza Sauce and quick homemade pasta sauces (i.e. can of diced tomatoes simmered with fresh garlic, onions, dried spices and a bit of chicken broth, and tossed with hot pasta, topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese)

Tomato Paste

(Hunt’s brand – mostly because I can buy cans in bulk at Sam’s Club)

Used in Homemade Pizza Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce

Tomato Sauce

Used in many recipes, including this Chili Mac which is a great fill-in dinner when plans go awry

Chicken Broth

(Swanson’s natural goodness chicken broth with 33% less sodium)

Used in too many recipes to name

Black beans

Used in Balsamic Black Bean Salsa (great, quick appetizer) and easy dinners Slow Cooker Southwest Chicken Stacks, Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps

White beans

Two best chilis: White Bean Chicken Chili and Creamy White Chili

Green chiles

I use green chiles in lots and lots of recipes but the main reason I keep them on hand is to add quick flavor to a meal where I may have forgotten to pick up a jalapeno or the green peppers in the fridge have gone bad (so much for planning!)

Dry Pantry Goods:

Spaghetti noodles

(Barilla Brand)

White long grain rice

Brown rice

I stock up on this now since I’ve found my new love: Baked Brown Rice


Couscous makes a great stand-in for other grains, like pasta and rice. I serve it often with meatballs and curries

Penne or elbow macaroni

(Barilla Brand)

I keep an extra box of pasta on-hand for quick, throw together meals (see the section of Diced Tomatoes for the easy sauce)

Cereal/Dry Pantry Snacks:


As much as I would like to be super-mom, hot breakfasts only happen about four times a week so the other three we rely on healthier cereals like Life, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, etc. I keep about three boxes on hand at all times.

Light Pancake syrup

Pure maple syrup

I am attempting to convert my entire family over to the taste of pure maple syrup since it is a whole food and doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it – it is a gradual process. Most of them still prefer the above listed pancake syrup. Also, pure maple syrup is used in my favorite Granola recipe.

Oatmeal pancake mix

I use this mix at least three times a week. L
ove it.

Multigrain club crackers

Pretzel sticks

Saltine crackers


Wheat thins



Garlic Salt

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder



Chili Powder


Dried Basil

Dried Parsley

Fresh Black Pepper

Table Salt

Kosher/Coarse Salt

I use a tablespoon of coarse salt every time I boil water for pasta. I also use it for these soft pretzels and for any other recipe that calls for it.

Baking Goods:

Cooking Spray

I like the canola spray, personally.

Semisweet chocolate chips

(Nestles or Ghirardellis)

Too many numerous applications to list, including eating handfuls a day to cope with mid-winter blues.

Semisweet and bittersweet baking chocolate bars

(Ghirardelli or Baker’s brand)



Used in this Cornbread and for Homemade Pizza Making

Powdered Sugar

I always keep this on hand to sweeten whipped cream, make frostings, etc.

Quick Oats

I use this in baking, obviously, but I also use it for quick breakfasts – 1/3 cup oats cooked with 2/3 cup milk or water in the micro for 90 seconds and then drizzled with pure maple syrup…heavenly

Rolled Oats

Nonfat Powdered Dry Milk

Used almost exclusively in the Lion House Rolls

Potato flakes

(Idaho Spuds Brand)

Used in this Soft Wrap Bread and these amazing Dinner Rolls

Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

(Gold Medal or Pillsbury Brand based on Cook’s Illustrated recommendations – I buy whichever is cheaper)

Whole Wheat Flour

I grind my own from the white wheat I have in my food storage and store the ground wheat flour in the freezer in gallon-sized Ziploc bags


I buy generic on this or use it from my food storage

Dark brown sugar

Light brown sugar

Canola oil

Generic brand all the way, baby

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

Balsamic Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

White Vinegar

Honestly, I don’t know if white vinegar belongs on this list since I rarely use it in cooking and usually use it to clean our humidifiers

Pure Vanilla Extract

(I buy this at Sam’s Club)

If you love me, please don’t use imitation extract, splurge on the real stuff – it makes a world of difference

Pantry Vegetables:

Fresh garlic

I keep at least three heads of garlic on hand at all times

Yellow Onions

At any given time, I probably have 6-7 yellow onions begging to be used


Flour Tortillas

For Enchiladas, lunch quesadillas, quick dinners, tacos with this Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Whole Wheat Bread

I’m starting to make my own since I am sick of paying mega-bucks to get loaves without high fructose corn syrup

Refrigerated Fruits and Vegetables:


Fresh lemons are a gift from the heavens. The zest or juice added to many dishes adds the perfect lightness you can’t achieve from anything else (plus freshly grated lemon zest in sugar cookies is dee-vine)

Fresh Parsley

Baby Carrots


Lunch, lunch, baby



Used almost exclusively in this Oatmeal Pancake Mix.

1% Milk

Not that you care, but we go through about 4 gallons of 1% milk a week. That will exponentially increase, I am sure as my four boys become teenagers.

Whole milk

I keep this on hand because I have a toddler who drinks it but it sure comes in handy when making a custard or pudding that calls for whole milk.

Heavy Cream

Don’t judge me. I use an exorbitant amount of heavy cream.

Sour Cream

Salted Butter

I don’t buy unsalted butter. I always keep several boxes of butter on hand for baking.

Smart Balance Spread

I use this on our toast, rolls, anything that we would “butter”

Large Eggs

Fresh Parmesan Cheese

(I’ve found the best bang for my buck is to buy this in a large wedge at Sam’s Club)

Fresh Parmesan cheese is an amazing pick-me-up food for dishes. Plus my five-year old loves to eat a big slice of it after school. He’s kind of weird. Like his mother.

Mozzarella Cheese

For pizza, mostly.

Sharp or Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Block

Used in anything from after-school snacks to this corn chowder to macaroni and cheese.

String Cheese


Ground Turkey


For Meatballs, Meatloaf, Tacos, Asian Noodles, etc.

Ground Beef

I use ground turkey for everything but keep ground beef on hand for a portion of the meat called for in meatloaf and meatballs

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

Too many dishes to name…I cook with chicken a lot

Natural Lunch Meats

(Hormel Natural Choice)

For lunches and for this delicious sandwich


frozen peas

I use frozen vegetables mainly as a side dish for dinner but they come in handy for this Dumpling Soup and other applications


Again, used mostly for a side dish but I also use it for this Black Bean Salsa, Super Burritos and Corn Chowder, to name a few


Don’t judge me.


I always keep fresh ginger in the freezer. I peel it and chop it into about 1-inch segments and store it in a Ziploc bag. When a recipe calls for it, like almost any Asian dish I post, I pull out a chunk from the freezer and grate it frozen on my rasp grater

30 Responses to My Personal Pantry Staples

  1. Angie says:

    You all DO KNOW that there is no difference in high fructose corn syrup and ANY other sugar right???? Your ice cream on your list has sugar that is the same…By avoiding it all you are doing is putting the backbone of the midwest, farmers, out of business………………………….It is the same as the organic food scare of 2011..it has been proven that organic eggs and meats are NO BETTER for you than regular farm eggs and meats, just MORE expensive for you and putting honest hardworking farmers OUT OF BUSINESS!!

  2. Julie Dellemonache says:

    I also use alot of butter and mine is always salted too!! If you live in the middle of Wis., you must have a Kwik Trip near by. They are running a special of Butter for $1.69 a pound, and .79 cents for a dozen eggs. Special runns untill the end of the month! I have been buying the butter and putting in my freezer, stock pilling, considering butter at the grocery store I saw today(genaric) was almost $3.00. I love to bake and have a hard time passing up something like this!

  3. C says:

    Hi Mel,

    When you use cooked chicken in your recipes, how do you do it? Is it crockpotted/boiled from boneless skinless breasts or do you buy it/cook it another way?


    • Mel says:

      C – I usually cook 4-6 chicken breasts in the crockpot on low for about 4-5 hours with about 1/2 cup chicken broth and then I shred it and freeze it.

  4. ingrid says:


  5. Karalee says:

    oooo how handy!!! this is very helpful to to new cook. I just about died when you said you weren’t a supermom because you only make hot breakfast 4 times a week. YOU ARE THE SUPERMOM!! my husbands lucky if he gets hot breakfast one a month!

  6. Anissa says:

    It's almost spooky how much our staples list is the same. It's like you wrote up my basics list and posted it, right down to the frozen ginger. At least now I know I SHOULD have options for a last minute dinner with all this on hand. Now to use your blog to figure out what those options are… 🙂

  7. Katy ~ says:

    Our lists are quite similar, cept I don't keep foods related to Tex-Mex style cooking (that is a specialty cooking for me and would only buy ingredients as needed for one time use). Hunt's do make nice products, and I have purchased them if I see them in bulk, but I buy almost exclusively (even at greater cost) Pastene tomatoes and Contadina tomato paste. Love seeing what's in other folks'pantries!

  8. Lauren Webster says:

    If you want a maple syrup that your kids will love, you should try making your own. It's simple- just water, sugar, maple extract and vanilla. Quick, easy, and no high-fructose stuff- yay! And way cheaper than pure maple syrup. If you're interested, the recipe is on my blog- laurenscooking(dot)blogspot(dot)com. Great pantry list!

  9. Rachael says:

    Have you tried steel-cut oats? We prefer them by leaps and bounds to regular rolled oats.

  10. Staci says:

    LOVE this list! Thank you so much…and for linking to the recipes you use it in!!

  11. Tracey says:

    I am SO impressed with your organization! Thanks for sharing. I usually have many of the same things in my pantry. I have a great idea for you! If you have green peppers that go bad often, all you have to do is freeze them!! I usually cut mine into strips and freeze them. You can either use them in strip form for fajitas, etc, or you can dice them for whatever you need…they freeze very well (I use freezer bags), and cut very well when frozen. I also have an excellent whole wheat bread recipe…found here:http://adrianandersonfamily.blogspot.com/2009/11/awesome-whole-wheat-bread.htmlHowever, it only makes 2 loaves. I have a smaller family, so that works great for us:)

  12. Katie says:

    I do the same thing. I keep a freezer inventory list, too. I keep a white board on the side of the big freezer with everything that is in there. I do a lot of freezer cooking and don't want to forget about stuff.

  13. Melody says:

    I would LOVE to get a wheat bread recipe from you when you find one and perfect it. 🙂 I've been making bread for awhile, but haven't fallen in love with any of the recipes I've tried.

  14. Ryan, Meagan, and Jase says:

    Thanks for posting this- I've been needing a good list like this. Plus I'm new to your blog and I want to make about every single thing I see on here, so it'll be good to have the essentials on hand. I just tried your pancake mix recipe this morning_ LOVE IT! Best pancakes I've had in a long long time! Thanks!

  15. Leisel says:

    Thanks for the great list. I do love you and so show my love by buying only pure vanilla! And like you, I always have a healthy supply of whipping cream! Now off to stock the pantry~

  16. alilars says:

    I'm also getting an error message with the link for baked brown rice. Can you help me out?Thanks!

  17. The Double Dipped Life says:

    What a great post! I found myself nodding at nearly everything! Thanks for the tip on the ginger- I am always buying some, using a little, and then wasting the rest!

  18. Veronica M. says:

    The baked brown rice link didn't work–I'll check back b/c I'm intrigued! Great list–much like my own. I can't wait to try that pancake mix–I had it on my to do list when you posted it and forgot.

  19. Cammee says:

    Thanks for the tip on fresh ginger. I'm going to have to send you the money you are saving me now that I know I can freeze buttermilk and ginger. One more bonus to a well stocked pantry? When your favorite food blogger posts a recipe you have to try NOW!

  20. Whitney says:

    I would love to have the recipe for the Baked Brown Rice! Is it on your site? I clicked on the link but got an error message.

  21. Lane and Katie Eyre says:

    Thank you for this list. I'm trying to be more prepared with the "basics" and then build on our food storage. I'm printing this off and using it for sure! (Plus, 75% of our meals come from you….)

  22. Kim says:

    Wow! I'm proud to say that I have almost the same pantry list as an amazing cook/baker as yourself and heaven knows I'm not nearly as good as you are. Thanks

  23. Tiny Head says:

    You are my hero. I've been looking for a pantry list from someone who cooks REAL food and this fits the bill perfectly!! Thank you thank you!

  24. Keri says:

    If you put about a tablespoon of vinegar in your water for cooking pasta, the pasta will not stick together during the cooking process (no such luck after the water is drained).

  25. Shelley says:

    Your list looks just like mine! It is such a saver to shop from your pantry! I have started to make the bread for our family and have a super recipe! Check it out. lilredhen-shelley.blogspot.comI love your blog and cook FREQUENTLY..like twice a week from it! We haved loved everything we have tried so far! I try a new recipe on Saturdays and your recipes are what I cook.

  26. dibear says:

    WOW! I was so surprised to see that we have the same pantry staples! Although I do not have ice cream or whole milk in my vittle. I do keep a few more staples on my list. 🙂

  27. Melanie says:

    Hey everyone – sorry about the baked brown rice link. I am posting the recipe on Thursday and so that is why the link isn't working. It will be up and running in a few days (I posted this pantry staples table a few days prior than expected). Sorry for the confusion!

  28. Anonymous says:

    I use Kosher salt in all my baking. I love it. I should try to convert my family over to pure maple syrup too. I guess I didn't realize it didn't have the fructose corn syrup in it. Thanks for the advise. Have you tried Montana Whole wheat flour? It is amazing!

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