Fill up your cupboard with these staple pantry items that will make home cooking easier!

Must-Have Pantry Items According to a Former Cook

As a former cook, I know a thing or two about the importance of having a filled pantry cupboard. For some time, I have fantasized about what my dream pantry would look like once I have my own kitchen. And as someone who has also recently moved out of home, I can now finally fill my pantry with staple items I love and need. Having a well-stocked pantry is essential because you never know when you’ll need a particular item for a recipe. Also, it makes home cooking a lot easier! Below, I categorized basic pantry staples you need for easier and more successful home cooking.

Must-Have Pantry Items According to a Former Cook

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Spices and Dried Herbs

You never realize how important this stuff is until a recipe calls for a teaspoon of cumin and you have nothing to use. I consider spices and dried herbs as “investments”. You may not use it all the time, but this is the kind of item that you would rather have and not need than need it and not have it. Store these in an air-tight container, away from the stove. Heat will quickly deteriorate its flavour properties so it’s best to put your containers in a cool, dry place. 

To start, here are some spices and dried herbs you should go for:

  • Salt (kosher salt, if possible. No pink Himalayan salt please)
  • Black pepper, whole (while you’re at it, find a good pepper grinder)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Dried bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Ground ginger
  • Paprika
  • Nutmeg
  • Cumin

Feel free to expand on it however you like.

Baking Ingredients

Baking staples are not only for the sweet kind, these items are equally vital to any savoury cooking. 

  • All-purpose flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vanilla extract
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Cornstarch
  • White granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Icing sugar
  • Honey
  • Pure maple syrup

Dried Pasta and Grains

Dried pasta and grains will last you a long time, and that’s what’s great about it. Truthfully, using dried pasta is my last resort dinner meal. Whenever I don’t know what to make, pasta is always there to save the day. And same can be said with rice. Brown rice is great to have at lunchtime, and short-grain rice like arborio is also used as my last resort meal. You can never go wrong with risotto.

  •  Any shape of pasta will do but I always go for linguine and rigatoni. 
  • Rice of any kind– basmati, jasmine, brown, arborio
  • Oats 
  • Red lentils
Must-Have Pantry Items According to a Former Cook

Photo Credit: Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash

Oils and Vinegar

There are plenty of specialty oils and vinegar out there that some recipes look for but as a basic pantry list, this is what you’ll need:

  • Canola oil 
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar


These vary from person to person, but the ones listed below are the most generic items I think anyone should have in the first place.

  • Lemons
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions

All of this can be stored in a dry, cool, dark place and will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks. 

Cans, Bottles and Jars

Just like dried pasta and grains, these will also last long in your pantry. 

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned black beans
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Tomato paste (canned, or in a tube)
  • Jams or marmalade
  • Mustards (yellow, dijon, or whole grain) 
  • Mayonnaise

Be wary of expiration dates and anything that’s been opened. Glass bottles and jars like mustard, mayonnaise, and jams should be kept in the fridge. Opened canned items must be transferred to a different container to prevent spoiling. You should never keep opened metal tins in the pantry and fridge as this causes negative health problems once consumed. 

This is of course the most basic list. As you expand your palette, feel free to diversify your pantry items too! 

Published by HOLR Magazine