Pantry, Refrigerator and Freezer Staples

A list of pantry, refrigerator and freezer staples you should always keep stocked to whip up a healthy meal without a trip to the grocery store.

A list of pantry, refrigerator and freezer staples you should always keep stocked to whip up a healthy meal without a trip to the grocery store.
Basic Pantry Staples

I like to keep a well-stocked pantry, freezer and refrigerator so that I can throw together a meal at a moment’s notice. When life gets busy, it’s nice to know I have what I need to cook a quick dinner if I can’t get to the grocery store.

Let’s not forget about the refrigerator and freezer! Make sure you have a good supply of cold essentials too. Eggs make a quick and easy protein, great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Greek yogurt is good for baking and adding to creamy sauces and smoothies.

What foods should you always have in your pantry?

The foods you should always have in your pantry are common ones you’ll find in many recipes and those that can form the base of an easy dinner. For instance, oil, vinegar, broth, and flour are frequently found in ingredient lists. And rice, pasta, lentils, and beans are a good source of filling carbs that are easy to add a variety of ingredients to. Think grain bowls, pasta dishes, and fried rice.

How to Organize Your Stocked Pantry

It’s important to be able to see what you have in your pantry. Otherwise, it’s really easy to forget about items that get buried in the back of your shelves. Lazy Susans (affil link( and tiered shelf organizers are helpful. I also put all of my newer items behind the older ones already in my pantry. For example, I’ll stack the older canned goods at the front of my shelves, so I use them first.

Healthy Pantry Checklist

Let’s talk about how to stock your pantry with healthy foods. Below is a comprehensive list of what I like to keep in my pantry. You don’t necessarily need every single one of these items at all times, but it’ll give you some good ideas for where to start. For instance, you don’t need three different types of rice – just pick your favorite to keep in stock.

I recommend buying extra of the foods that you like to cook. Love Italian food? Then, you should definitely get some jarred marinara sauce and pasta. If you like spicy foods, buy extra of your favorite hot sauce since that’s an easy ingredient to add to a variety of meals.

Recipes You Can Make with Pantry Staples

Below is a list of just a few recipes that rely mostly on pantry staples. If you don’t have an ingredient, just substitute it for whatever you have on hand. For example, you can easily switch out farro or couscous for another grain like brown rice or quinoa. Different kinds of pasta are pretty interchangeable too. If a recipe calls for a rotini pasta, but you only have rigatoni, use that. Swapping dried herbs for fresh will also work in a pinch.

Making Steel Cut Oats in the Instant Pot is so much faster than making them on the stove!

Breakfast Recipes

Italian tuna and brown rice salad using two basic pantry items—tuna and brown rice – plus capers, good quality chopped olives, frozen mixed vegetables and fresh lemon juice, you can create this easy, make-ahead, healthy salad loaded with flavor and perfect to pack for lunch or a picnic!

Pantry Lunch Recipes

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili is an easy slow cooker dump recipe using freezer and pantry staples!

Pantry Dinner Recipes

Comment below with some of your favorite pantry/refrigerator and freezer staples!

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36 comments

  1. How do you print the pantry list?  It comes out blank

  2. I’ve been trying to print your Healthy Pantry Checklist, but all I get is a Read-Only pdf. Any ideas?

  3. Taco soup is a common pantry meal at my house. Everything except the onion (I always have onions on hand) and ground beef (freezer) is in the pantry.

    Brown a pound of ground beef, drain, and add one chopped onion.
    Add:
    2 T taco seasoning (aka one pouch)
    2 T ranch dressing mix
    Canned goods: any combo of beans, diced tomatoes, green chilies, frozen corn

    It also freezes well.

  4. How do you keep ricotta, I just had to throw away a whole tub because of mold. It was only about two weeks old and had been refrigerated the whole time.

  5. I need to thank my mom. Growing up, I would go grocery shopping and help make dinners etc with her. She taught me what a good pantry would have in it. She also said what you need in lean times and what can add if abundant times. Thank you for this list! Great teaching tool.

  6. Crockpot chicken cacciatore was a big hit with my family! And talk about substitutions… I was already in the process of making it only to discover my bell peppers had gone bad. Uh… Oh… I threw in shredded carrots for a little sweetness instead and it was actually good! We emitted it over some wide egg noodles.

  7. This is awesome, thank you so much for this! Your recipes are just wonderful. Stay safe!

  8. I’ve been searching for something like this for so long! Most lists are so vague. Thanks Gina!

  9. I enter your website regularly almost every day. You have some great articles. I Love Your Suggestions. Thanks.

  10. We cook a lot of Japanese food in my household, so additional items we always have in stock are:
    mirin
    rice vinegar
    soy sauce (cooking type)
    sake (used in Japanese dishes like the French use wine in theirs)
    short grain rice
    salmon (buy a large piece, cut and then individually wrap and freeze)
    firm tofu
    bonito flakes and/or powder to make “dashi” (it’s the equivalent of chicken broth, but based on fish)
    miso

  11. I’m proud to say I have every single item on this list except cauliflower rice 😔

  12. Great ideas! Wish I had this list two weeks ago when I went shopping, I ended up just throwing a little bit of this and a little bit of that in my cart!

  13. Thanks so much for verifying my need to keep the pantry stocked! Some people think I’m crazy but we can whip up a healthy meal on a whim when needed. Now,  I just need to organize it all better! 

  14. I was so happy to get this email today! You confirmed that I was well stocked and gave me great suggestions about how to use what I have. That means I don’t have to go to the store for 2 more weeks. That is a big deal for me right now. 

  15. Great tips!  Thanks for sharing as we are all looking deep in the back of the cabinets for dinner ideas. 

  16. Can you provide a printable list?

  17. Gina thank you so much for this! Very much appreciated! Stay safe!

  18. Thanks so much Gina for putting this together, it is a great resource.

  19. This is so helpful– thank you!

  20. Thank you so much for this! It made me realize that my pantry has all of these things. I am glad that I think and buy healthy! Thanks for the recipes too!
    Wishing you and your family health and safety during this time.

  21. Thank you so much for this. I use skinnytaste recipes almost everyday and it’s nice to see in one shot your most popular ingredients!

  22. I am proud to say because of my WW Coach I have MANY of these items on hand all of the time, but THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting because I need to add more if available at the stores. Stay safe!!

  23. Can you please make the pantry, refrigerator, freezer list printable Thankyou!

  24. Thank you Gina! You, your website and your cookbooks are a blessing. Thank you for helping us prepare to shelter in place and be healthy. You have made such a positive impact in my world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. God bless.

  25. I have about 90% of what you mentioned in my cabinets, fridge and freezer. I’m a true stickler about that. Spices are very important to me and I have a spice drawer and cabinet. Once a month I go through them to check dates and make sure I have backup for what I use most. And I have an herb garden which I also grow different lettuces in. It’s in a flower box on my porch and does extremely well since they are not root selfish plants. 
    Thank you

  26. Hi Another way of making good use of foods to minimise waste and effort and maximise taste and variety is to try some ‘Chain cooking’ I used to teach this to my students going away to university. Don’t buy expensive chicken breasts. Buy one or two fresh chickens (depending on the size of your family), use the breasts for your fancy meal, chicken legs for a midweek meal, make a casserole with the other larger chicken pieces e.g wings, or risotto with the odds and ends and soup with the carcase. Simple, it’s also great for your purse. Do the same with minced beef. Cook it with onions first, then divide the mixture up, add carrots to one portion tomatoes to another and then beans, herbs and spices to make shepherd’s pie, chilli con Carne, spaghetti bolognese and so on until you run out of ideas. You only make a mess in the kitchen once and you have meals for the fridge and the freezer

    • Excellent idea! Chain cooking is a cool name!

    • Chain cooking, what a great idea! I’m starting to get a little burned out with the additional cooking and kitchen clean up as of late. With WFH being the current mandate, having to prepare an extra meal (lunch) daily. Thank you for sharing such a helpful idea!

  27. Hi Gina
    Thank you so much for this article. Its a life saver.
    Thank you for simplifying life for so many people with the recipes and meal plans.

    Best Regards

  28. Thanks for the information. I need to organize my pantry again….yours looks amazing

  29. Gina you are my calm during this storm!! Thank you for this extremely helpful post, the list of easy recipes from staples is greatly appreciated.

  30. So very much appreciate this, thanks for doing this for us

  31. Thank you, Gina! I really appreciate what you are doing here. Please don’t give up! I visit your site everyday and it is super helpful!

  32. Looks great but I think I need a bigger pantry! 😉