People don’t talk about their pantries like they used to, and most schools never say a word about them. You might see it listed on a floorplan for a house or apartment, but these kitchen closets are an essential item. Your pantry is the place to store all your nonperishable foods. Anything that doesn’t need a refrigerator goes in this clever overgrown cabinet space. It may surprise you to learn just how many foods belong in your pantry instead of the fridge. A perfect pantry may seem like a challenging goal, but you can easily accomplish your ideal pantry goals with a good shopping list and some organization tips.
What Is a Pantry Grocery List?
A pantry grocery list is a simple checklist with all the supplies you need to keep in a cool, dry area outside your refrigerator. By storing cans, bags, boxes, bottles, and some hardy vegetables in a pantry, you can save a ton of space and guarantee you always have the ingredients you need on hand when you want to cook. Bookmark this page to use this list as a tool for shopping and re-stocking your pantry anytime.
The Ultimate Pantry Grocery List
The Ultimate Pantry Grocery List is a collection of everything most homes need for their pantry. Feel free to make your own additions or adjustments as you see fit. It’s okay to skip over some items if you don’t ever eat them or add foods that most homes don’t have if you want them around. Just follow the list and add at least one of every item to your shelves.
Baking supplies should contain whatever you need o make cookies, brownies, cakes, pastries, bread, or rolls. Flours have a separate category. These are the leavening agents, additives, and other baking ingredients.
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Chocolate and Other ‘Chips or Nibs’
- Cocoa Powder
- Dried Fruit- Options include many flavors that are good for snacking and baking, like raisins, apricot, banana, dates, and figs.
- Dry Yeast
- Other Flavorings- Choose whatever you enjoy like, like peppermint and orange.
- Vanilla Extract
- Unsweetened and Semisweet Dark Chocolate
- Unflavored Gelatin
- Boxed Pre-Made Baking Mixes
Whatever your flavor preference, we all use condiments on food. Fortunately, most condiments are considered shelf-stable until you open them. You can put any unopened bottles or containers of sauces in your pantry unless they specifically came from a refrigerated section of the grocery store.
- Salad Dressings
- BBQ Sauce
- Bean Dip
- Pickled Jalapenos
Canned Meats & Beans
Protein is essential for every diet. Without it, we fall ill because our bodies don’t have what they need to build and repair our cells. Canned meats and beans are an essential part of any well-prepared pantry.
- Black Beans
- Blackeyed Peas
- Kidney Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Ranch Beans
- Refried Beans
- Anchovies and Anchovy Paste
- Corned Beef Hash
When it comes to canned fruits, some people prefer to make their own, or you can get most options like jelly and pie fillings pre-made at the store. Remember to read the labels carefully so you know what’s inside. Juice, light syrup, heavy syrup, no sugar, and sugar added are all very different flavors and consistencies, so play around with various options until you establish what you like.
- Fruit Cocktail
- Mandarin Oranges
- Pie Fillings
Canned or Boxed Soups & Broths
When you’re feeling under the weather, the ability to toss together a quick bowl of soup is a significant boon. If you have a particular favorite soup, it’s a good idea to stock up. However, it would be best to keep a few options on hand and some other soup bases like bullion.
- Bone Broth
- Concentrated Creme Soups
- Vegetable Soups
- Regular Soups (containing meat)
Canned vegetables are a more economical option than shopping for fresh out-of-season vegetables. Having cans of your favorites around means you can snack, make meals and avoid wasted produce that gets lost in your refrigerator vegetable drawers.
- Green Beans
- Green Chiles
- Tomato (Paste, crushed, diced, and other varieties)
Drinks & Snacks
A pantry can hold more than ingredients. For example, unopened beverages will fit in nicely here. It doesn’t matter what you drink because it will all fit in a good pantry. Plus, keeping a small stock of unrefrigerated snacks like fruit leather and chips will give you an easy go-to option anytime you feel a little peckish but not hungry enough to cook a whole meal.
- Shelf-Stable Milk
- Soy and Almond Milk in boxes
- Cans of Soda or Beer
- Snack bars
- Fruit Leather
- Bottled Water
- Sparkling Water
- Quinine Water
Flours are pretty basic. You use these ground-up grains for cooking other foods. Sometimes you add a rising agent like yeast or baking soda; other times, the flour is a layer in breading or merely a thickener.
- Almond Flour
- Bread Flour
- Cake Flour
- Coconut Flour
- Plain Wheat Flour (bleached or unbleached)
- Self Rising Flour
Grains, Seeds & Cereals
Grains are the seeds of legumes and cereals. A cereal is any edible member of the grass family, such as oats and rice, while legumes or beans are also considered a grain because they grow on plants as seeds. Your morning Cheerios and the dried lentils in your cabinet are both in the grain family.
- Black-eyed and split peas
- Breakfast Cereal
- Chickpeas (aka Garbonzo Beans)
- Dried Beans
- Oats and Oatmeal
- Rice and Instant Rice
- Trail Mix
Nuts are another fantastic way to add some protein to your diet. These can be a part of baking, sandwich making, snacks, breakfast cereals, trail mixes, etc. The healthy fats and oils in nuts are packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, plus they can help you feel full longer and even aid in weight loss.
- Almonds and Almond Butter
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Pine Nuts
- Walnut halves
From cakes to sir-fry, many dishes need oil. Storing your oils in the fridge will cause them to thicken and become harder to use when you need them. Choose a spot in your pantry that doesn’t get light, and don’t forget to check your expiration dates regularly because rancid oil will ruin any meal.
- Olive (any variety)
- Specialty Oils
The spices people prefer vary widely based on personal taste and the culture a person comes from. Some people only use salt and pepper, while others have everything from Anise to Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning. A tiered shelf that allows you to see multiple smaller containers and read all the labels will help keep an extensive spice collection in constant use, so nothing is missed. For those who go through large quantities of just a few favorite spices, consider getting the larger bottles. You can always put some in a small bottle and pack the remainder of your supply at the back of your shelf for later use.
Most spices lose their potency after about a year. However, storing spices above a hot oven or out in the open where they are exposed to light will speed up this process. A great space-saving option for your pantry if you don’t want to take up a whole shelf with a tiered rack is to get a hanging spice rack that goes over the door.
We all enjoy a treat now and then, and most of those treats have sugar or other sweeteners inside them. Keeping a good variety on hand will ensure you always have what you need to bake, cook and add to teas or coffee.
- Agave Nectar
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Brown Sugar
- Karo Syrup
- Powdered Sugar
Not all fresh vegetables need to go to the refrigerator. Hardy veggies, such as potatoes, don’t do well in the chilly interior of a fridge. Turnips and members of the onion family, like shallots, also belong in the pantry. The best way to store these is to get stackable wire bins that allow airflow around your vegetables. Every fresh vegetable on the list below prefers a cool, dark environment with plenty of good ventilation.
- Red, Yellow, and White Onions
- Sweet Potatoes
Every cook needs vinegar for flavoring dishes. Moreover, some kinds of vinegar are good for your health or work well as kitchen cleaners in a pinch. Here are the types of vinegar you should have on hand in the pantry.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- This vinegar is known for its health benefits.
- Balsamic- The longer balsamic vinegar is aged, the more flavorful it will be.
- Plain White Vinegar- Get a gallon of plain, robust white vinegar for cleaning.
- Red, Rice, and White Wine
How to Rotate Pantry Items
A well-prepared and full pantry needs a little bit of TLC to ensure you have the supplies you need. Shopping to replace things is relatively obvious. However, you can waste a ton of canned goods if you don’t organize things correctly. Rotating your pantry items the same way grocery stores stock shelves will help prevent accidental food loss because you’ll always know what’s about to go off.
When you shop, put the cans, boxes, bags, or bottles with the nearest expiration date belong in the front of the cabinet. When you use something up, please put it on your grocery list immediately so you can replace it the next time you shop. Then, when you bring fresh groceries into your kitchen, put the newest containers at the back of the shelves and slide older foods back.
Most pantry items don’t expire for months or years. Canned goods, in particular, can retain the same nutrition and flavor for up to five years in many cases. After that, the quality tends to deteriorate, but it depends on the food inside.
According to the USDA (https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2013/06/27/you-toss-food-wait-check-it-out#:~:text), “Most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely. In fact, canned goods will last for years, as long as the can itself is in good condition (no rust, dents, or swelling). Packaged foods (cereal, pasta, cookies) will be safe past the ‘best by date, although they may eventually become stale or develop an off flavor.”
How To Know When To Replace Pantry Food
Expiration dates aren’t everything. After all, a potato doesn’t have one, and it doesn’t matter if you bought the flour yesterday if it has weevils in it. How do you know when to get rid of a pantry item if it’s not expired?
First, use your eyes. You should go through your pantry about once a month and remove anything from the shelves and dust. While you do this, take a moment to inspect each item visually. Boxes should be unopened, or at least undamaged. Cans should never have rust or dents in them, and jars need to be sealed tight with no indication of anything amiss inside. When you use the food, you can look at it outside the container.
Second, trust your sense of smell. The human nose is fine for sniffing flowers and cutting grass, but it’s even better as an early warning system. Our olfactory receptors evolved to tell us when something is wrong, like spoiled food.
Third and lastly, use your sense of taste. It may seem like nothing is wrong at first, but when you taste the food, it’s ‘weird’ or ‘not right.’ Spices can cover the overt flavor of rotting or moldy food, but they won’t taste the same as fresh, healthy ingredients. In short, if it tastes terrible, stop eating it. Although most people get over food poisoning after a day or two, it can have nasty side effects like vomiting and dehydration. Don’t risk eating spoiled food.
A stocked pantry helps a home chef make all their favorite meals. However, it also gives you a backup of nonperishable items for emergencies. Keeping your pantry shelves well-supplied means never worrying about power outages, quarantines, supply chain issues, and other hiccups that life can throw in your path. Remember to audit your pantry at least once a month to check for outdated items that slipped past their expiration date and make a shopping list for resupplying your needs. You should also make any adjustments you need to this list so it fits your cooking and eating style.