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Stocking Your Food Cupboard

posted in Around the Kitchen by Kathy Maister

It’s a lot easier to start cooking if you already have some basic food items in the house.


My Food Cupboard

Here’s a list of the (probably essential) non-perishable foods that will happily sit in your food cupboard (or pantry) until you are ready to use them.

  • Condiments
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Oils
  • Cooking oil (vegetable or canola)
  • Olive oil
  • Salad dressing (pick your favorite)
  • Pastas and Rice
  • Spaghetti and / or fun-shaped pasta
  • White Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Canned Foods
  • Beans-kidney, pinto, black, navy, etc. Used for cooking or adding to salads.
  • Soup
  • Tuna Fish
  • Stewed Tomatoes (2 cans)
  • Spaghetti/pasta sauce


  • Breakfast Cereal
  • White sugar


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Cinnamon


My Spice Cupboard

You will want to personalize this list with things like coffee, tea, sodas, etc.

This is a good basic list on which you can build. From these ingredients, you can make dishes like tuna salad sandwiches, chili, spaghetti, and rice. And that’s just the beginning!

I am intentionally leaving out the entire category of baking foods (like flour, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, coco powder and so on). You can begin assembling those ingredients when you begin baking from scratch. (Yes, that will happen someday too!)

When stocking up, I strongly recommend bringing a written list of what you need to the grocery store. Otherwise you not only forget what is on the list but you end up spending more than you might with a list!

When given a choice in size, be realistic. I rarely buy “giant family size” of anything, since my household has only two people and it takes a long time for us to get through a small jar of mayonnaise. Granted, the larger size is a better value, but not if it ends up being thrown out because it has passed its “use-by” date. I would rather buy the smaller size and when it runs out, buy a fresh jar.

Anything else YOU would consider a “must have” in your pantry?

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Claire said:

I would consider oatmeal a must. I guess that could be considered a breakfast cereal. It’s also a good idea to have some kind of cracker on hand as well as peanut butter. These are musts if some kind of natural desaster occurs and there is no power! For me, the baking items are musts!

Kathy (Maister) said:

How could I have forgotten peanut butter! It’s such an (American) staple.
Of course there are those who would prefer Vegeimite…

Lydia said:

Pantries are so personal, as I’m finding out on my own blog. I may use an ingredient one way, but my readers have many other ideas. For instance, I don’t keep garlic salt, because the only thing I use it for is dry rubs—which I don’t make very often. But I do keep a few slices of good bread in the freezer—for emergency sandwiches!

Dave said:

Here in the Southwest…..guess…..SALSA!!!!

Kathy Maister said:

I too LOVE salsa! My personal favorite is salsa on a baked potato with yogurt!

Kung Pow! said:

Vegemite owns peanut butter

Kathy Maister said:

My brother-in-law, a Kiwi, would totally agree about the vegemite. (It is almost unheard of here in the USA!)
Lydiarecently did a great post on Stocking Your Food Cupboard. Thanks Lydia for the great reference!

Amanda said:

2 things that are always in my pantry are chili powder and ground red pepper. We like a lot of spice in our food and our household would literally fall down if we ran out of these. LOL

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Amanda, once you are used to lots of heat, food must seem quite bland without it. I love lots of flavor but not much heat! I use red pepper very sparingly!

Andrea said:

Thank you for posting this. I just started college at Arkansas Tech University and am still learning to cook and shop for ingredients. Your site is so inspiring.

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