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keobooks's avatar

What are some "can't live without" pantry staples?

Asked by keobooks (14301points) June 10th, 2011

I cook just about every main dish with onion and garlic. I always have to have at least 4 onions and 1 garlic head in my house at all times because if I don’t I will run out before the end of the week. If I have garlic and onion, I can pretty much scrape up anything in the freezer or pantry and make it edible.

What do you feel like you absolutely always need to have on hand in your kitchen?

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30 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Canned tomatoes
Canned beans
Green chiles

crisw's avatar

Good olive oil, garlic, sea or kosher salt, curry powder, dried pasta, home-canned vegetable stock, rice, good-quality unbleached flour- for starters

WestRiverrat's avatar


BarnacleBill's avatar

So far ^^ is in my pantry, too.
I have to add:
decent jam
peanut butter
coconut milk (thai dishes)
hot sauce
apple cider vinegar

filmfann's avatar

soy sauce
chopped garlic

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

chicken broth
soy sauce
peanut butter (for when I’m poor and hungry, not because I actually like it…)
ALL the spices

thorninmud's avatar

Balsamic vinegar
a chunk of good parmesan

keobooks's avatar

@marinelife Woo! Except for the green chiles, and I have dry beans instead, those are some of my favorite pantry staples. I need to get some canned beans though because I don’t know how many times I’ve nixed a recipe because I forgot to soak the beans the night before.

@crisw I love kosher salt. I’ve all but tossed out my table salt. I only keep it because my husband refuses to let go of it—even though he doesn’t like it either. About your stock. I freeze my stocks instead of canning. Is it hard to take up canning? How much work goes into it? So far I just freeze all my stocks but the down side is that my freezer is so full and if I canned I could just load up in the pantry. Also, I’m not great at labelling and once things freeze, it’s hard to tell what’s what.

@WestRiverrat : I need to get better with oat and corn meal. I could really go to town then. The only meal I use is flour for roux. Question: How long does beer keep? My husband and I don’t drink, but I love to cook with beer. I’d like to cook with some nice beer, but I don’t want it to get “stale” or sour or whatever happens to old beer.

@BarnacleBill YUM! Can you use the Peanut Butter in the Thai dishes too? I was just given a large lemongrass plant, so now I have an excuse to get serious with thai food.

@filmfann – Sounds like the pantry of a bachelor who likes to eat well, but not much for cooking.

@MyNewtBoobs – I love a good spice cabinet. Do you have any interesting favorites?

@thorninmud OMG Pesto! I LOVE pesto!! I have 4 basil plants and I’m thinking of getting 2 more this weekend. I make pesto and freeze it all summer so I have it all year round. Pesto is amazing. You can take scraps of food, dollop on pesto, and poof—instant gourmet.

crisw's avatar


Canning is very easy, but to safely can vegetable stock you must use a pressure cooker.

Most of what I use on a day-to-day basis I actually keep in the fridge. Every week or two, everything that didn’t get eaten from the vegetable drawer (we get two CSA boxes every week, so we have lots of veggies!) goes into my big soup pot, and gets simmered for a few hours. Typically this will include many greens, such as cabbage, chard and lettuce, some root veggies, squash, odds and ends such as artichokes, sprouts and herbs. Then I strain it, cool it, and store it in glass jars in the fridge- I usually get two or three quarts. I use it every time I make rice, put it in bread, cook veggies in it, etc.

keobooks's avatar

@crisw thanks SO much for posting that. Outside of learning a little about canning, I thought you should know that I’d never heard of CSA before, so I looked it up. This is great and there’s a farm less than 15 miles from my house!

YARNLADY's avatar

I have to say everything mentioned above, plus Pepperoncini, pickles and several kinds of mustard. I try to always buy in bulk, on sale and I have two pantries, which I keep full. I make my own salad dressings and soup stock.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@keobooks if you keep it in the fridge the beer will last about 6 months. I usually buy a 12 pack and that will last me about 3 months.

Cruiser's avatar

Did she just say panty staples?? Ouch!

aprilsimnel's avatar

For me, tuna, olive oil, pasta, olives, red vinegar, flour, crushed tomatoes in a can. I always have those in my pantry.

dabbler's avatar

I thought it was “p a r t y” staples and wondered why guacamole wasn’t on everyone’s list.
The onion and garlic made sense in the question.

Sunny2's avatar

For flavor, I have prepared mustard, sweet relish, ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, malt vinegar, rice vinegar, peanut oil, olive oil, Kosher salt, multi-colored pepper corns to grind, Worcestershire sauce, Hoisin sauce, Tabasco sauce, mayonnaise, horseradish.
Spices and dried herbs are another category . And food stuff like canned tomatoes, pastas, rices, olives, nuts, cheese, another. I make a lot of ethnic dishes. I suppose I could pare it down if I had to, but at the moment, I don’t have to.

chyna's avatar

@Cruiser I read it that way the first time.
I can’t live without peanut butter, but I don’t really cook much.

TheIntern55's avatar

I’m Puerto Rican so my staples:
Meat of some sort
That is what my diet mostly consists of.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@keobooks Gosh, let’s see…
Chili powder
Chili flakes
Cayenne pepper
White pepper
Black pepper
Sea salt
Those are some of the ones I have. I have a LOT, including the rarer ones like marshmallow root and rose hips and lavender petals and Valerian root and mustard seed and raspberry leaf. I get them bulk from Whole Foods. I try to always buy the whole or chopped versions of spices and herbs, and then grind them up myself instead of buying the pre-ground options. I have one tea that I make that’s Turkish tea (which is insanely hard to find, so really any black tea is fine), rose petals, broken cinnamon stick pieces, and marshmallow root. It’s really unbelievably good, and the marshmallow root has this strange numbing agent that numbs your tongue for a couple seconds, which I find incredibly fun.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Spices! Oh, they’re so ubiquitous in my pantry, I forget them! Yeah, I get a slew of different spices, but certain ones, like oregano and basil, I try to buy fresh as often as possible.

Pandora's avatar

wow, I have most of the stuff mentioned already.
I didn’t see the following.
coffee (can’t live without my coffee)
chocolate syrup
bananas, yellow, or plantains or green
tea bags and sodas and fruit juices
canned fruit for dessert toppings or to eat alone

YARNLADY's avatar

@aprilsimnel tuna reminds me of a family joke – I love tuna so much, I don’t want to run out, so whenever I see a sale (7 oz $.49) I buy a dozen or more. I now have over 100 cans and I don’t use them, because I’m afraid I’ll run out.

When I ask the family what they want for dinner, they always say “Tuna Tetrazzini”. Well, OK, I do make it when they ask.

AmWiser's avatar

As long as I have potatoes and rice in my pantys pantry, I feel I will never starve. I have a 1,001 recipes for both.:D

Kardamom's avatar

In the Pantry

Canned beans: pinto, black beans, kidney, garbanzo, great northern

Vinegars: Balsamic, rice vinegar, red wine, apple cider, white, and malt

Tomato products: crushed, diced, tomato paste, pasta sauce

Pasta: spaghetti, macaroni, soba or somen noodles, lasagne noodles

Veggie broth

Canned ripe black olives, jarred green olives

Canned diced green chilies

Enchilada sauce and jarred salsa

Olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil

Bisquick, unbleached flour, sugar, honey

In the Fridge

Mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, lemons, celery, lettuce

Cheese: cheddar, jack, mozzarella, Parmesan

Mustard, mayonaise and barbecue sauce

Smart Balance buttery spread

In the Freezer

Blocks of cheese cut into smaller sizes and put into Ziplock bags

Tortillas, whole wheat bread, burger buns, rolls, sourdough bread

Frozen peas, corn and edamame

Frozen meatballs (real and fake) chicken breasts, ground turkey

Fake meat: fake ground beef, fake bacon

Pie crusts

Frozen cheese pizzas, Boboli pizza crusts

On the Counter in a Basket


Sweet potatoes

Russet potatoes

In the Spice Cabinet

Pepper corns

Sea Salt

Chili powder

Garlic powder

Celery seed


Crushed red pepper

Cayenne pepper

OK now I’m hungry again!

Cruiser's avatar

@chyna What does that say about us?? XD

Kardamom's avatar

@Cruiser and @chyna Peanut butter is awesome, here is a cold noodle recipe that I love that has a peanut butter dressing.

It doesn’t matter whether you guys cook much or not, just as long as you love eating and dining and food and friends. Some of us are cookers, and some of us are eaters and party attenders (the folks that make the parties worthwhile). Come and dine with us. You’re always welcome! Us folks who love to cook wouldn’t do very well without an appreciative audience. Be our audience. : )

JLeslie's avatar

Are we talking pantry only? Or, anything that is a staple? I keep a lot of the items below in the fridge.

Deli mustard
Salt, must be iodized
Garlic salt. I make my own so it is iodized
Spaghetti sauce
Chicken of the Sea
Italian bread crumbs
Italian dressing seasoning in the packet
Red wine vinegar and/or balsamic
Vidalias in the summer
Stouffers frozen.
Apples in the winter

filmfann's avatar

@keobooks Mustard isn’t just for making a sandwich.
Mix it with Brown Sugar to make a terrific glaze for a ham.
Add it to potato salad, and wonder why everyone doesn’t do that.

chyna's avatar

@filmfann I add mustard to potato salad. It makes the salad.

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