Are you constantly going to the store because you’re missing just one (though very important) ingredient in that evening’s recipe? Maybe your schedule is too hectic and you’ve given up on trying to juggle your limited time and energy and instead opt for the convenient drive-thru for lunch and dinner.

If your pantry is bare and you use it more often as an extra storage place for cleaning supplies rather than food, you are missing out on the opportunities to make your own healthy and delicious meals. (And, just as a reminder, you’re missing a chance to save yourself a lot of money.)

stocking a pantry cupboard with basic foods

Many people set a goal to start keep more food on hand and do more home cooking, but simply have no idea what items to stock up on and always have on hand. You don’t want to buy things you’ll never use, but you also want to keep running to the store for every little thing.

Here’s a solid list for getting started:

  • Olive oil
  • Canned olives
  • Honey
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Eggs
  • Sea salt
  • Tomato paste
  • Bananas
  • Fresh herbs
  • Garlic

There are some basics that every pantry and kitchen should have. These ingredients can help you make a variety for healthy meals that are perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you want to expand your meal offerings, though, you’ll need additional items handy in your pantry and kitchen. The list below may look intimidating, but the meals you could make will increase exponentially.

You don’t have to get all these in one trip. Some items such as fresh produce and fruit will go bad, so it is important to get what you’ll eat and keep an eye on expiration dates and freshness. (Obviously, the same goes for the items above, too.)

  • Vegetable oil
  • Vinegar (Apple cider, red wine, Balsamic, rice)
  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • Evaporated milk
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Grains, including quinoa, couscous and brown rice
  • Pasta, including spaghetti noodles
  • Crackers
  • Applesauce
  • Canned tuna
  • Ground herbs and spices (black pepper, garlic, cloves, cumin, ginger, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • Regular herbs and spices (bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, rosemary, sesame seeds, parsley, thyme, cilantro)
  • Fresh vegetables (carrots, celery, tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower, green beans, onions)
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, chard or mixed greens)
  • Potatoes
  • Fruits, including citrus (lemons, limes, and apples)
  • Condiments (jelly, jam or preserves, ketchup, mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil and Worcestershire sauce)
  • Ground beef, ground turkey or Italian sausage
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Frozen vegetables

Cooking may not be your forte, or even something you enjoy doing. Having certain, basic pantry and kitchen foods handy, however, will make food planning easier as it will save you from taking multiple trips to the store and possibly save you money.

Having the right cooking utensils and cookware also helps in making food. If you’re lacking basic cookware, be sure to check out our different types of cookware.

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