List of Must-Have Pantry Items to Stock Your Kitchen

must-have pantry items

The weeknight dinner slump is a real thing. You start the week with the best intentions, but the meals you had planned for the week are done by Wednesday. That’s why having these kitchen staples on hand is a lifesaver. From pasta to oils to canned goods, keeping these must-have ingredients will make for easy weeknight meals. We’re going to give you a wide variety of ingredients we consider staples, but you don’t have to buy everything at once. As you continue to cook, you’ll figure out your favorite staples that you use regularly. Then you can restock those ingredients that become your go-tos. Plus, check out below for our favorite pantry-friendly recipes.

Dry Pantry Items

Let’s start with the dry ingredients we usually have on hand in our pantry. These pantry items can be used for a variety of recipes, including desserts. Craving pasta? You got it. Want to bake some chocolate chip cookies? You can! By keeping your pantry stocked with these dry items, you’ll be able to whip up dinner on any given evening.

  • Flour (all-purpose)
  • Sugar (white, brown and powdered)
  • Rice (white, brown, jasmine and instant)
  • Boxes of Pasta (spaghetti, bowties, cavatappi/corkscrew, elbow, egg noodles)
  • Israeli Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Corn Starch
  • Shortening
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Tortilla Chips

Oils, Sauces and Wet Pantry Items

Now, time for the oils, sauces, and other wet ingredients we keep in our cupboards. When you need to cook up dinner, these items will be a God-send. From baking salmon to frying chicken to making Italian drunken noodles, you’ll need these ingredients on hand.

  • Oil (extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil)
  • Non-Stick Sprays (vegetable oil, Baker’s Joy, avocado oil)
  • Vinegar (balsamic, red wine, apple cider, rice)
  • Chicken Broth (refrigerate after opening)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (refrigerate after opening)
  • Cooking Wine (sherry, chardonnay, marsala)
  • Soy Sauce (refrigerate after opening)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey

Canned/Jarred Ingredients

While many may judge us for having these on hand, after a busy day these ingredients are miracle workers. Velveeta is great for last minute macaroni and cheese, jarred pasta sauce is your best friend on a Wednesday, and adding a can of Rotel can spice up the most basic of recipes. Check out the canned and jarred ingredients that we stock in our pantry.

  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Velveeta (don’t judge us)
  • Pasta Sauce (when you don’t have time to make it homemade)
  • Beans (black, kidney, refried)
  • Canned Corn
  • Canned Green Beans
  • Tomatoes (diced, Rotel, paste)
  • Salsa

Must-Have Seasonings

Last but not least, time for the seasonings we always have. Taco Tuesday? No problem! Need to add flavor to chicken breasts? Easy peasy. Baking vegetables? They’re guaranteed to be flavorful. All this is possible by keeping these seasonings in your pantry. These go-to herbs and seasonings can make any weeknight meal a winner.

  • Kosher Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper (we like to use fresh ground, so we buy whole black peppercorn)
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Ranch Seasoning
  • Italian Dressing Mix
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Dried Parsley
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Ground Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Pure Almond Extract

Items in our Fridge/Freezer

As an added bonus, here’s what we keep stocked in our fridge and freezer! While everyone has different tastes and preferences, you’ll usually find these ingredients in our refrigerator. By trying to keep most everything on hand, you’ll have an easy dinner option.

  • Salted Butter (whenever my favorite brand is on sale, I always stock up and freeze it)
  • Unsalted Butter (again, when on sale I buy it and freeze it)
  • Milk (we like 2%, but use whatever you prefer)
  • Eggs
  • Heavy Cream
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard (regular, Dijon, stone ground, honey mustard)
  • Mayo
  • Sriracha
  • Sour Cream
  • Cream Cheese
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Better than Bouillon (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • Shredded Cheese (Mexican cheese blend, cheddar, mozzarella, farm style thick cut)
  • Tortillas (tacos are always a good idea)
  • Dipping Sauces (ranch, honey mustard, bbq sauce)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Seasoned Dry Bread Crumbs
  • Lemon Juice
  • Ginger Paste
  • Favorite Veggies (green beans, brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini)
  • Ground Meat (turkey, sausage, beef)
  • Frozen Potatoes (hashbrowns, cubed)
  • Chicken (we often keep chicken breasts in the freezer)
  • Frozen Corn
  • Frozen Spinach

Psssst. Click here for the truth on expiration dates!

Now, what you can make with all the above ingredients? Here are some of our favorite pantry-friendly recipes that are easy to make for a weeknight family meal.

Green Beans, Chicken Breasts And Red Skin Potatoes

Green Beans, Chicken Breasts And Red Skin Potatoes

“This green bean, chicken breast and potatoes is such an easy dish for any dinner! Everyone loves this sheet pan chicken recipe!” - Linda
Chicken Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti

“This was absolutely delicious! My husband devoured it! I did make a few additions. I had some left-over mixed vegetables that I threw in. I also added some chopped celery and 3 cloves of minced garlic. I shredded the chicken. This recipe is a keeper! I'll definitely be making this again!” - Bonnie
Working Mom's Layered Nachos

Working Mom's Layered Nachos

“We always appreciate a quick and delicious meal. The concept of layering the beans, meat, and cheese and then baking it is genius. Everything comes out hot and the cheese bubbling. Then, place the meat mixture on tortilla chips and layer with your favorite toppings. Serve this family style on a large platter or place in individual bowls and let everyone add their own toppings. This is a fun dinner recipe, but it would also be great for game day.” - Kitchen Crew
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

“I use Uncle Ben's Jasmine rice in a need to even heat it up just add to it. Comes out great everytime. I also added a can of rotel because we like a little kick.” - Cindy
Taco Spaghetti Casserole

Taco Spaghetti Casserole

“Tasted amazing! My husband absolutely loved it and asked to have for lunch the next day. Nothing makes a night like an easy yet delicious dinner. Thanks for such great recipes!” - Sabrina
Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

“The recipe is really delicious. My family and friends loved it. Too easy to make,I had heard of it but never tried it. Thanks for the recipe for Twice Baked Potato Casserole.” - Annette
Marie's Breakfast Burrito

Marie's Breakfast Burrito

“This breakfast burrito recipe is not only easy to throw together, it's delicious! The cheeses add a savory flavor, while the pepper flakes and salsa add a big kick. The eggs turn out perfectly creamy. Filling and hearty, this breakfast burrito is great for breakfast or brunch. So good!” - Kitchen Crew
Homemade Creamy Alfredo Sauce

Homemade Creamy Alfredo Sauce

“Holy cow this was good! All five of the kids loved it. So easy!! I just put the cream cheese, butter and parm chz (the cheap dried kind) in a lidded pan on low until melted, then whisked it and added the milk. Creamy, smooth and flavorful!” - Anne
Chicken And Rice Skillet Dinner With A Kick

Chicken And Rice Skillet Dinner With A Kick

“This is really a delicious meal. As a variation, you can leave out the beans and the corn and just use the chicken, chicken broth, cumin, and rice. Do everything except add the beans and the corn and make a delicious burrito by adding the mixture to a toasted tortilla and top with cheese. So many variations to this recipe. Make it your own and enjoy.” - Cecelia
Baked Mac And Cheese For One

Baked Mac And Cheese For One

“What I love about this recipe, is that I can make myself a nice, creamy, single serving of mac & cheese, or I can double or triple it if I want some to take to work or share with a friend. It's soooo much better than that boxed stuff!” - Sue