The Prepared Pantry

To help you build the perfect pantry, we’ve created a list of basics – things we’re never without – to create inspired meals any night of the week.


Stocking Up: Putting Together a Pantry Plan

The grocery store is full of interesting ingredients that can make cooking an adventure, but it can be hard to know which ones are essential to creating a well-stocked pantry. To help you build the perfect pantry, we’ve created a list of basics – things we’re never without – to create inspired meals any night of the week. Once those basics are established, “build out” the pantry with ingredients that can help put a signature spin on classic family recipes and keep food preparation exciting. Here’s how to make a pantry that’s both functional and fun.

Dried Herbs & Spices

• Basil
• Cayenne
• Chili powder
• Garlic powder
• Ground black pepper
• Ground cinnamon
• Kosher salt
• Onion powder
• Oregano
• Paprika
• Rosemary
• Thyme

Once you have those herbs and spices in order, build out your spice supply by adding these options:
• Bay leaves
• Curry powder
• Dry mustard
• Ground cumin
• Ground ginger
• Red pepper flakes

Kitchen Tip: To ensure freshness, write the date of purchase on each spice jar and discard after 6 to 8 months. Their flavor starts to fade over time.

Oils & Vinegars

• Extra-virgin or virgin olive oil.
• Nonstick cooking spray
• Vegetable or canola oil
• Apple cider vinegar

Add more flavor spark with these oils and vinegars:
• Balsamic vinegar
• Rice vinegar
• Toasted sesame oil
• Champagne, white and/or red wine vinegar

Kitchen Tips: Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined (meaning it hasn’t been treated with chemicals or been expelled using heat, which can alter its flavor) and is considered the finest type of olive oil available.  Virgin olive oil is also unrefined but has a milder flavor than extra-virgin oil and production methods aren’t as rigid as those for extra-virgin oil. We like using extra-virgin in salad dressings or as a finishing oil where its distinct peppery flavor will be most noticeable. Virgin oil is great for sautéing.

To extend the shelf life of sesame oil and other nut oils (like walnut or hazelnut), store them in the refrigerator. Warm temperatures will cause them to go rancid quickly.

Dry Goods

Staples & Dry Goods

• All-purpose flour
• Assorted nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, peanuts)
• Bread
• Bread crumbs (we love crunch Japanese-style panko crumbs)
• Cornstarch
• Dried beans and lentils
• Garlic
• Honey and/or maple syrup
• Onions
• Pasta (various shapes)
• Peanut butter and/or other nut butter
• Potatoes (russets and/or thin-skinned red or Yukon golds)
• Raisins and/or dried cranberries
• Rice (white & brown)
• Sugar (granulated, brown & powdered) Store sugar & flour for up to 1 year.
• Swanson® broth & stock (any flavor)
• Tortillas

Kitchen Tips: Store nuts, nut butters, bread and tortillas in the freezer to extend their shelf life. To soften brown sugar that’s turned hard, put a piece of bread or an apple slice in the bag or box – the sugar will soften within a day or two.

Canned & Bottled

Manage “Best By” dates stamped on the cans by going through your pantry at the start of the spring and fall seasons and rotating product according to their dates.  • Beans (black, chickpeas, kidney, pinto, white, etc.)
• Beans (black, chickpeas, kidney, pinto, white, etc.)
Coconut milk (regular or reduced fat)
• Condiments (BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard)
Dijon mustard
• Pickles, olives and peppers (chipotles, jalapeños, etc.)
Soy sauce
• Tabasco
• Tuna
Tomatoes (whole, paste, sauce)
• Worcestershire sauce

Refrigerator & Freezer

While it’s not technically the “pantry,” there are ingredients that belong only in the fridge or freezer that are essential for cooking with ease.
• Assorted proteins (chicken breasts, pork chops, fishground beef, etc.).
Bacon (freeze bacon for longer storage)
• Butter or margarine
• Celery
• Cheeses (Cheddar, Goat, Jack, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss, etc.)
• Cilantro
• Eggs
• Frozen vegetables (broccoli, corn, green beans, mixed vegetables, spinach, etc.)
• Green onions
• Lemons & limes
• Milk, cream & half-and-half
• Parsley
Puff pastry, phyllo and/or prepared pie crusts
• Sour cream or plain yogurt (regular or Greek)

Kitchen Tips: You’re never far from a delicious casserole or skillet supper when you have frozen meat on hand. Buy chicken pieces and chops and freeze in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets before storing in resealable, dated plastic bags. For ground meat, divide into 1-pound portions and freeze in labeled, dated resealable plastic bags. Use frozen meat within 6 months; discard if freezer burned.

Once you’ve established your pantry, you can embellish it with different items to give you even more culinary freedom. May we suggest:
• Baking mix
• Dry sherry, Madeira or Marsala
• Grains (barley, bulgur, couscous, farro, quinoa, etc.)
• Noodles (egg, ramen, rice, etc.)
• Pizza dough
• Rice (Arborio, basmati, jasmine, etc.)
• Sauces & pastes (fish, hoisin, oyster, Sriracha, red curry, etc.)
• White & red wine