My fabuLESS list of pantry staples!

Basics are the staples of, well, everything– whether you’re talking about food, household goods, toiletries, or clothing– you need to have the basics covered and in stock. This post will cover food basics, stay tuned for posts about household goods, toiletries and clothing basics.

Regardless of the category, there is no generic, one-size-fits-all list– this just happens to bemy list.  When creating your own list, you need to think about the way that you and your family eat, the way you cook, your food preferences, allergies, and so on.

Creating this “master” list is also an excellent exercise to do as it will challenge you to think about what you buy and use regularly.

When my fridge, freezer and pantry are stocked with all of the following ingredients, then all I need to purchase for the week is some fresh protein (chicken/fish/beef/pork/seafood– whatever is on sale) and fresh vegetables and fruit.  In fact, if there’s ever a week when money is tight, we can just eat what we have on hand and spend NO money for at least a week, probably even two.

Being prepared allows me to keep my weekly grocery store spending nice and low, I spend an average of $75-$100 weekly to feed my family of 5 (2 adults and 3 kids– age 8 and under) and I almost exclusively serve real, wholesome food– no powdered milk or boxed dinners going on around here.

Of course, I do have to continuously replenish my stock of basics, but I do so (whenever possible!) BEFORE I run out and when I see that item at a fabuLESS price (I just follow the matchups at my local stores and it ‘tells’ me when to stock up– don’t know what matchups are? Read HERE.)

I refer to these basics as “stockuppables” since they have long expiration dates you can and should stock up (remember: only a “rational” stock up, NOT an extreme stock up!) when there is a fabuLESS sale to be had– remember sales cycles can and do repeat, no need to stock up for Armageddon!

Okay, enough blathering, let’s get to the list making!

Spice Cabinet:

Spices, herbs, oils, vinegars, and sauces are the backbone of my kitchen and keep my cooking fun– I make a lot of my own marinades and with just a few ingredients you can completely change the flavor of your food.


  • Garlic (Granulated)
  • Garlic (Raw)
  • Ginger (Raw)
  • Ginger (Ground)
  • Onion Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Chipotle Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Curry Paste (Red, Green, Yellow)
  • Garam Masala
  • Paprika
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric
  • Bay Leaves
  • Basil
  • Tarragon
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Cayenne
  • Rosemary
  • Kosher Salt
  • Iodized Salt
  • Sea Salt
  • Whole Peppercorns
  • Celery Salt
  • Ground Mustard
  • White Pepper
  • Bouillon Cubes and “Better than Bouillon” (Chicken, Beef, Lobster and Vegetable)
  • Wasabi Powder
  • Miso Paste

My spice cabinet located right next to my stovetop--- I can reach it while I'm cooking-- fabuLESS!


I’m still buying these fresh, but I’m going to try to grow my own (wish me luck as I have a black, rather than a green, thumb!)

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary


  • Canola
  • Olive
  • Sesame
  • Chili


  • Soy Sauce (Low Sodium, Tamari)
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Worchestershire Sauce
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Sriracha (Spicy Chili Sauce)
  • Mustard (Whole Grain, Spicy, Dijon, Yellow)
  • Honey
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad Dressings

And, no it doesn't always look this nice and neat, my kids destroyed this within 3 seconds of me snapping this picture!


  • Rice Vinegar
  • White Vinegar
  • Malt Vinegar
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar (White Balsamic, Pear and Pomegranate Infused Balsamic)
  • Red Wine Vinegar

Wine: These are used both for drinking and for cooking– I don’t cook with any wine that I wouldn’t be willing to serve in a glass.

  • Sake
  • Sherry
  • Marsala Wine
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chardonnay

Dry Goods/Pantry:


  • Whole Grain Pasta (Rotini, Elbow, Penne, and Linguine)
  • Soba Noodles
  • Rice Noodles
  • Rice (Brown, Sushi, Jasmine, Basmati)
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Couscous
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal (Steel Cut and Instant)
  • Sesame Seeds: White and Black
  • Cereal (I buy whatever I find on sale, as long as it’s relatively low in sugar–and I often buy organic!)

Canned or Dried Goods:

  • Coconut Milk
  • Nori (Dried Seaweed– used to wrap sushi)
  • Black Beans
  • White Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)–dried and canned
  • Dried Split Peas (Yellow & Green)
  • Lentils
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste
  • Sundried Tomatoes
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Roasted Peppers
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Crabmeat
  • Chopped Clams
  • Sardines
  • Powdered drink mix (Crystal Light)
  • Tea Bags
  • Coffee (whole bean)
  • Breadcrumbs (Panko, Seasoned)
  • Peanut Butter (natural)
  • Artificial Sweetner (Splenda, Equal or Sweet n Low)
  • Taco Shells

Baking Supplies:

  • Flour (White, Whole Wheat, Soy)
  • Sugar (Granulated, Brown, Powdered)
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Yeast
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Vanilla
  • Cocoa


  • Granola/Cereal Bars
  • Dried Fruit (raisins, prunes, cranberries, blueberries)
  • Nuts (sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, and pistachios)
  • Applesauce
  • Baked Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Rice Cakes
  • Popcorn Kernels

Refrigerated Goods:

  • Milk (I tend to buy organic because not only is it better for you, but it also tends to last longer AND have coupons available)
  • Cheese (many wrapped cheese have long expiration dates, so stock up on those weeks when it’s on sale)
  • Eggs: Again, stock up on eggs when they’re on sale
  • Lemon and Lime Juice: I greatly prefer fresh, but I keep this on hand to use in a pinch
  • Garlic (I usually use fresh, but I have both peeled garlic cloves and chopped, jarred garlic on hand)
  • Sour Cream
  • Plain (usually Greek) yogurt
  • Cream Cheese
  • Smart Balance margarine and/or butter
  • Tortillas/Pita Bread– both keep well in the fridge or freezer

Frozen Goods:

  • Frozen Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches)
  • Frozen Veggies (spinach, corn, peas, potatoes)
  • Pizza (for those days that I just can’t bear to cook)
  • Ravioli (see above)
  • Bread (rolls, English muffins, homemade garlic bread, bagels)
  • IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) Chicken Breasts
  • Frozen Shrimp
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Hot Dogs
  • Butter
  • Hors D’Oeuvres (mini-quiches, mini-spanikopita)
  • Cheesecake

Fresh Produce:

Though I buy seasonal and fresh vegetables and fruit every week, certain veggies and fruit last longer, so I consider them part of my staples.

Potatoes (Sweet, Baking)
Onions (Red, Yellow)

Apples (Red and Green)

This may be a LOT more or even a little less that you would prefer to keep on hand and that’s fine– do what works for you!  We tend to entertain a lot and I love that I can just about throw a dinner party without having to make a run to the grocery store.  I rarely have to buy ingredients when I am cooking or baking a new recipe which allows me to have fun and experiment, too!

Most importantly for my budget, I make a point of replenishing items when I’m running low rather than when I’m completely out, that gives me an opportunity to find the lowest possible price rather than being at the mercy of the closest store.  It may take a little time and a bit of money to build your pantry, but it’s well worth it.

Happy pantry stocking!