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The ultimate guide to stocking your pantry

By Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN • Apr 1, 2020 at 4:30 PM

Being stuck at home has its benefits, including more time cooking and eating meals with your family. During this time, and all the time, make sure to keep your kitchen stocked with items that help you pull a nutrient-rich meal together quickly and easily. These basic, versatile ingredients are fairly inexpensive and have a long shelf life in your pantry or refrigerator.


These are usually the least expensive and most versatile ingredients. Buy these items in bulk and even store in your own containers at home for easy access. However you store them, make sure they stay in a dry, cool place away from the sun in order to preserve their freshness and flavors.

Flour: Whole wheat, all-purpose

Sugar: White, brown, confectioners

Rolled oats


Baking powder

Baking soda


Dry beans and lentils

Dry whole wheat pasta


These items are essential to giving your food flavor. Remember varying smoke points when choosing an oil. For example, vegetable oil and canola oil have higher smoke points than extra virgin olive oil, so it will take longer for them to “smoke” when pan-frying. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use olive oil for cooking. Just avoid cooking at high temperatures for a long time. To keep the nutrient properties of oils intact, store the oil container in a dark place or buy tinted bottles.

Oil: Vegetable, canola, extra virgin olive oil

Vinegar: Apple cider, red wine, balsamic

Soy sauce, low sodium




Mustard: Yellow, Dijon

Peanut butter


Herbs and spices help take a dish from mediocre to delicious and exciting! Spices have a fairly long shelf life if you keep them in an air-tight container away from heat. Give the herb or spice a sniff, and if it has lost its potency, it might be time for a new bottle.


Italian seasoning

Garlic powder


Crushed red pepper

Smoked paprika

Chili powder


Vanilla extract

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