Our Complete Pantry Shopping List Covers the Essentials Every Home Cook Should Always Have on Hand

Learn which staple ingredients you need to stock in your kitchen cabinets, how to store them, and how long they will last.

Pasta, grains, canned goods, and baking staples are some of the categories of pantry essentials everyone should keep in their kitchen. These foods are the basis of so many meals and have a longer shelf life than items you keep in the refrigerator and shop for frequently. Learn which foods you should always keep stocked in your pantry or kitchen cupboards—and for how long. Our helpful guide draws on information from Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook.

Annie Schlechter

Canned and Bottled Items

A good stash of canned foods and bottled items can help you make meals in a flash. From canned tomatoes and beans to tinned fish and jams and chutneys, these essentials will come in handy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Heed expiration dates; otherwise, most canned and bottled goods, such as preserves, pickles, and relishes, can be kept, unopened, for up to one year. Once opened, glass bottles should be refrigerated; transfer unused canned goods to airtight containers and refrigerate for three or four days. This is especially important for canned acidic foods such as tomatoes or pineapples; once the interior of the can is exposed to air, the acidity is likely to cause rust. If you do see rust on an opened can of food, both the can and the food in it should be discarded.

  • Italian plum tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Green and black olives
  • Olive paste
  • Anchovies
  • Anchovy paste
  • Capers
  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Hot sauce
  • Mustards
  • Italian oil-packed tuna
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Canned fruits
  • Chutneys
  • Fruit jam

Dried Pasta

There are so many different meals you can make using your favorite pastas. Plus, they stay fresh for quite some time: Dried pasta can be stored in its original package until opened, then transferred to airtight containers. It is best used within one year of purchase.

  • Assorted shapes including spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, fettuccine, lasagna, orzo, and couscous

Baking Staples

It's a good idea to keep everything you'd need to whip up a batch of cookies or a cake on hand at all times. Store ingredients in airtight containers, away from heat and light sources. Extracts, like pure vanilla or almond, will last several years; leavenings like baking soda and baking powder lose their potency after about one year, pay attention to their expiration dates.

Grains, Rice, Dried Beans

Whether you use them as the base of a meal or a side, grains, rice, and dried beans are versatile pantry staples, which is why we always keep them on hand. Dried items, with the exception of cornmeal, can be stored in the pantry for up to one year. To discourage pests, keep cornmeal in the freezer for up to one year.

  • Quick-cooking polenta
  • Stone-ground cornmeal
  • Oats
  • Arborio, long-grain white, medium- to long-grain brown, and basmati rice
  • Green du Puy lentils
  • Black-eyed peas and split peas
  • Black, pinto, and cannellini beans
  • Flageolet beans


Whether for baking a dessert or breading chicken for dinner, flour is a pantry essential. We suggest keeping a few varieties on hand. Store wheat flours in airtight containers at room temperature up to one year. Choose containers with wide mouths for easy scooping and measuring. Freeze almond and other nut flours for up to six months.

  • Unbleached all-purpose white (or your favorite gluten-free flour blend)
  • Whole-wheat
  • Cake (not self-rising)
  • Almond or other nut flour

Sugars and Other Sweeteners

Humidity can make solid sugars lumpy, so keep them in well-sealed containers in a cool, dry spot. Double-wrap brown sugars to keep them moist. Store syrups at room temperature in their original containers up to one year.

  • Granulated white, superfine, light and dark brown, and confectioners' sugar
  • Light corn syrup
  • Molasses
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Honey
Annie Schlechter

Nuts and Dried Fruit

Protein-packed nuts and dried fruits are great as snacks or an ingredient in all kinds of dishes. To discourage nuts from turning rancid, store them in the refrigerator for up to six months or the freezer for up to a year. Dried fruits can be stored at room temperature for six months to a year but they last longer if stored in the refrigerator. Keep them well sealed to preserve freshness and prevent stickiness.

  • Pecan and walnut halves
  • Pine nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Raisins
  • Golden raisins
  • Currants
  • Dried apricots
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Sun-dried tomatoes


A variety of cooking oils are essential to any well-functioning kitchen. Whether you use them to cook with or in marinades or dressings, it's important to have options. Store vegetable oils in the original bottles, unrefrigerated, in a cool, dark place for up to six months. Refrigerate nut oils (such as walnut oil), and use within three months. Do not store oils beside the stove.

Spices and Seasonings

Maintain a good collection of the spices and seasonings you use most frequently—these will vary from household to household, but any cook knows they're important in taking a dish to the next level. Most spices will lose their potency after about a year, but their flavor will deteriorate faster if stored improperly. Keep them in airtight, light-proof containers, away from heat. Choose an accessible drawer or cabinet or a wall-mounted rack (do not hang it above the cooktop).


Only hardy vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and garlic should be stored in your pantry. Potatoes should not be refrigerated; keep up to two weeks' worth in baskets or bins in a cool, dry, dark, well-ventilated spot. Do not store them in plastic, which can encourage mold, Keep onions, shallots, and garlic in the pantry for up to one month—do not refrigerate them. Store each vegetable in a separate basket or bin; it's especially important to keep potatoes and onions apart since they can cause each other to spoil.

Dried Mushrooms

Dried mushrooms are a versatile ingredient that brings savory, umami flavor to soups, stews, and risotto. Store dried wild mushrooms in airtight containers in a dark cool place like your pantry. They will last for two to three years if stored correctly.


Keep all types of vinegar in their original bottles, and store them in a cool spot for up to one year.

  • Aged balsamic
  • Cider
  • White wine
  • Red wine
  • Rice wine
  • Sherry
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