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  • Writer's pictureAnita Chastain

Essential Pantry Items: A Checklist of What to Buy

Have what you need when you need it.

Woman getting a jar out of a pantry

Not sure what to buy to maintain a well-stocked pantry? This list will help you figure out what you need to make quick and easy meals at home.



One of the best ways to eat healthier and save money is to maintain a well-stocked pantry. The problem is figuring out what to buy.

Use the Pantry Essentials Checklist below to create a list of what you're missing. You can download the checklist as a pdf file using the link below.

List of Essential Pantry Staples

Use this checklist to buy the foods you need to make quick and simple meals.

Essential Pantry Items Checklist page 1
Pantry Items Checklist page 1
Essential Pantry Items Checklist page 2
Pantry Items Checklist page 2

The checklist includes five categories:

  1. Baking Essentials

  2. Grains, Dry Pasta, & Dried Beans

  3. Dried Herbs, Spices, & Fruits

  4. Canned Goods

  5. Condiments


Download the Pantry Essentials Checklist pdf file.


Baking Essentials

  • Baking powder

  • Baking soda

  • Canola oil

  • Cocoa powder

  • Corn meal

  • Corn starch

  • Cream of tartar

  • Evaporated milk

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Flour (All Purpose, Self-Rising)

  • Honey

  • Molasses

  • Rolled Oats

  • Salt

  • Semisweet chocolate chips

  • Sesame oil

  • Granulated sugar

  • Confectioners sugar (powdered)

  • Brown sugar

  • Sweetened condensed milk

  • Vanilla extract

  • Active Dry Yeast

Grains, Dry Pasta, & Dried Beans

  • Black beans

  • Pinto beans

  • White beans

  • Egg noodles

  • Elbow macaroni

  • Lasagna

  • Spaghetti

  • Rice (long grain white, brown, wild)

Dried Herbs, Spices, & Fruits

  • Allspice

  • Basic

  • Bay leaves

  • Black pepper (ground, whole peppercorns)

  • Chili powder

  • Cinnamon

  • Cloves (ground)

  • Coriander

  • Cumin

  • Dill

  • Dried fruits (raisins, figs, etc.)

  • Garlic powder

  • Ginger (ground)

  • Marjoram

  • Mustard (dry)

  • Nutmeg

  • Onion powder

  • Oregano

  • Paprika

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Thyme

Canned Goods

  • Applesauce

  • Broth (beef, chicken, vegetable)

  • Canned beans and vegetables

  • Canned meats (chicken, tuna)

  • Pumpkin puree

  • Soup

  • Tomato paste

  • Tomato sauce

  • Canned tomatoes (crushed, stewed, whole)


  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Balsamic vinegar

  • Distilled white vinegar

  • Red wine vinegar

  • White wine vinegar

  • Barbeque sauce

  • Hot sauce

  • Jelly/Jam

  • Ketchup

  • Maple syrup

  • Mayonnaise

  • Mustard (Dijon, yellow)

  • Peanut butter (or other nut butter)

  • Pickles

  • Salad dressing

  • Soy sauce

  • Worcestershire sauce

Dried herbs in jars on a shelf

Put Together a Grocery List

Before you head to the grocery store, take an inventory of what you already have on hand.

This is also a perfect time to check expiration dates and throw away anything that has expired. While many foods have a long shelf life, most items, including canned food, dried pasta, and dried herbs and spices, don't last indefinitely.

After completing your pantry inventory, place a checkmark on the supplies checklist next to the items you need to buy.

How to Spread Out the Cost of Stocking Your Pantry

Buying a lot of these items at once can get expensive. To spread out the cost, buy a few things every time you go grocery shopping. Because you're spreading out the cost over time, the added expense will be less painful.

Here's a tip to keep you from buying duplicate supplies that you don't need:

Draw a line through each item on the checklist as you buy it. This is an effortless way to track what you've already bought and still need to buy.

Ready to get started? Download the pantry essentials checklist here.

A Stocked Pantry Simplifies Meal Planning

I'm always looking for ways to practice simplicity at home. Keeping plenty of cooking supplies on hand is one way I keep life simple.

While you might not think a full pantry will simplify your life, having easy access to the necessary supplies makes cooking less of a chore.

You also have more cooking options when the pantry is fully stocked. Not only that, but you'll spend less time rummaging through recipes to figure out what you can make with your limited supplies.


Check out these pantry storage ideas in my kitchen organizing article for tips on storing food supplies in zones. Using zones makes it easier to find what you're looking for.


Final Thoughts

The secret to enjoying good food and quick meals is to have the ingredients on hand when you're ready to cook. It's frustrating to decide on a recipe only to find out you're missing a key ingredient.

Download the pantry essentials checklist today and stock up on the staples you need for a quick dinner, a great snack, delicious baked goods, and more.

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