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How to Stock Your Pantry for Quick and Easy Meals

Apr 15, 2020

A well-stocked pantry is any busy home cook’s secret weapon. We all know there are 20 minute meals, one-pan meals, and things that you can just “throw together” in your Essential Pan. But a stocked and organized pantry is critical to making tasty, quick, and improvised meals happen.

Our guide to stocking your kitchen with long-lasting ingredients that will make grocery shopping and prep infinitely easier and quicker (not to mention cheaper) is below.

When you're ready to get your kitchen organized, our friends at Open Spaces have you covered. We recommend their Kitchen Storage Essentials to help keep even the smallest kitchen tidy.

Tailor your pantry to your cooking style and preferences.

To start, take everything out of your pantry and survey the scene. If you haven’t used an item for over a year or if it expired, toss it (or donate if unopened). Take note of what you always need more of (for us, it’s canned chickpeas, sesame oil, and almond butter), and double down during your next grocery shop.

Keep your dietary preferences and go-to meals in mind as well. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, having an assortment of dried and canned beans enables you to throw together protein-rich dishes. If you’re a pasta lover, keep a variety of short and long pastas, canned sauces, and crushed tomatoes stocked.

After thinking through your go-to dishes, start building out your pantry in categories.

While the initial investment in a well-stocked pantry may rack up a heftier grocery bill than usual, it will pay dividends. Most pantry items are either inexpensive, like dried pastas and grains, or last a long time, like spices and oils. Either way, the lasting convenience of easier meals is well worth the initial price tag.

Here’s a cheat sheet to get you started.

1. Grains
  • Brown Rice, White Rice, or both (use in our Turmeric-Coconut Rice)
  • Short Pasta such a Penne or Fusili
  • Long Pasta such as Spaghetti or Linguini for recipe (use in our Mediterranean Pasta)
  • Any other go-to grains, like farro, quinoa or couscous
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oats
2. Canned Goods
  • Beans such as garbanzo, cannellini, and black. Pro tip! You can also buy these in bulk as dry goods, which is cheaper and better for the planet than the canned alternative.
  • Coconut milk
  • Olives (try in our Summer Puttanesca)
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Capers
3. Oils & Vinegar
  • High smoke point oil like canola, avocado or vegetable oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
4. Sauces & Condiments
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pesto sauce (or try making it fresh)
  • Stock (chicken, vegetable or beef)
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Nut butter (almond, peanut or cashew)
5. Dry Goods & Baking Essentials
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Brown sugar
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour
  • Corn starch
  • Bitersweet dark chocolate
6. Spices
  • For heat: Crushed red pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Ginger
  • Dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, oregano, and bay leaves (more on herbs to come soon!)

Quick Tip

If your pantry is overflowing, create some more space on your countertops and in your cabinets with Kitchen Storage Essentials from our sister brand Open Spaces, including Shelf Risers and Drawer Dividers.

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