Stocking a Pantry to Cook From Scratch (Essentials)

Stocking a pantry to cook from scratch can be daunting. With my simple suggestions and a peek into my pantry, this guide will help take the intimidation out of the process.

pantry items in jars

Whether you are new to cooking, homemaking or cooking from scratch, stocking a pantry is a vital part of being a homemaker. I know it can be overwhelming to keep up with as well. Especially if you are trying to cook all the meals from-scratch. Whether you eat whole foods or just simply want to try to cook at home more often. These staples help me keep meals on the table. They are my go-to items when shopping and ones that I always keep a steady supply of.

Of course, you don’t need to buy everything I do. But this is a good guide for gaining a better understanding of where to start when stocking a pantry to cook from scratch.

Dry Goods

Dried goods go far. They consist of items that store well and usually have a long shelf life. Dried goods are also amazing for pantry meals, which are basically times when you don’t have a lot of fresh items in the fridge to rely on but need to put something on the table.

I can’t tell you how many times I have relied on dried goods. Food items like beans, lentils, rice and pasta. Below I am sharing some of the basics that go on my shopping list when stocking up the kitchen pantry so I can cook from scratch with ease. 

Rice– We make rice a ton at our house. Rice is so versatile and a great tip for making things quickly is to make more than you need and store it in the fridge. This way you can whip up a rice mixture for a fast scratch lunch. For this, my Easy Pork Fried Rice works perfectly.

Beans– Beans, lentils, split peas, three bean soups, garbanzo, white, and pinto. These are just some of the dried beans that are great to keep on hand. I keep both dried and canned beans in my pantry. We make anything from soups to hummus to refried beans just having these stocked.

Spices– Salt, peppercorns/pepper, cumin, garlic salt, chili powder, bay leaves, dried herbs, Italian seasoning.

Dried Pasta- spaghetti, penne, macaroni, and rotini are just some of the kinds of pasta I keep stocked up. I love to make fresh pasta when I have time but when I don’t it is nice to have these on hand.

Canned Veggies– I know, canned veggies? Really? But trust me they come in handy. Things like artichokes in water, mushrooms in water, olives, pickles. All great additions to add to meals.

Tomatoes- Tomatoes have to be one of the best canned food items to keep on hand. Many people will suggest keeping jars of pasta sauce instead but I find having crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste is much more affordable and versatile. Plus it allows you to still cook the sauce from scratch and be in complete control over the quality of ingredients

Baking Essentials

Depending on whether or not you are also a baker, you will want to keep a few things on hand for all those baking days ahead of us. Having these keeps me from having to make extra trips to the store and I find I can make a good variety of things from keeping a few of these as staples in my pantry.

Flour- Ideally an all-purpose organic and unbleached one. This type of flour is useful for any flour needs you may have. From baking bread to thickening soups and all your baked goods.

Baking Items– Baking powder, baking soda, olive oil nonstick spray, baking cups, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cocoa powder, active yeast.

Sweeteners– I keep organic unrefined sugar, brown sugar, raw honey, maple syrup and organic powdered sugar on hand.

Dried Fruit- I like to keep various dried fruit on hand. Things like cranberries, raisins, dried apricots and even cherries. These are great for snacking but baking with them is quite handy. Recipes like these low sugar orange cranberry scones are nice to make from pantry staples. 


Fats are incredibly important. Having the right fats is even more so. There is so much information on cooking oils out there that it can be overwhelming so let me simplify it and share with you these 3 better cooking oils.

Cooking Oils- I like to keep an abundance of cooking oils in my pantry and keep a close eye on them so I never run low. Some to consider are coconut oil, olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil, tallow and avocado oil. But there are many other oils that you can stock up on. Your fat supply might look a bit different than mine, but the point is, fat is vital to cooking in any form. Make sure to always do a check and include them on your pantry list when stocking.

Cold Pantry Items

You might not think that cold items qualify as “pantry” staples, however, trust me, they are! There are many things that need refrigeration that are staples to consider keeping on hand. Having a few fresh dairy items is so helpful when wanting to make more home-cooked meals. Many times I find myself saved from a dinner disaster with having had them on hand.

Dairy- Includes milk, heavy cream, eggs, cheese, cream cheese, and real butter. I make our yogurt out of the milk I buy. It is an easy process and the result is a healthier probiotic-rich yogurt that you can use in place of sour cream, as yogurt, for smoothies, etc.


Produce can be tricky when it comes to thinking of pantry staples. I would say there are pantry staples and then there are cooking staples. You can easily cook a meal from a well-stocked pantry however, pantry meals get old real quick since there are not a lot of fresh foods involved with making them. For this, I will give a few of my cooking staples in case you are looking for some insight on stocking even fresh items. These are staples for me as a from-scratch cook that I purchase on a regular basis.

General Staples For Cooking: Onions, potatoes, celery, carrots, lemons, garlic.

Frozen Fruit- Not always one to desire frozen fruit when fresh is available. However, having a constant supply of fruit that keeps longer (frozen) can be beneficial for baking up quick breads or muffins, adding to oatmeal or pancakes, among many other things.

Ones I Go For- blueberries, mixed berries, avocados, peaches.


For meat, I buy a bulk order of meats from our local butcher each month. I go for good quality meats over store-bought, and sometimes that means having less meat but better quality.

Cuts- ground beef, steak meat, chicken breast, sausages (polish, smoked, brauts), thick-cut bacon, whole chicken, and roasts.

Tips for Stocking a Pantry

  • Check expiration dates often and rotate items to the front when restocking so that you are always using up the old before opening or using the newer items in your fully stocked pantry. 
  • Whether you have a walk-in pantry or a small closet type pantry, its important to keep it organized and easy to assess when making a list of staples that need stocking up on. 
  • When selecting basic supplies to keep on hand, consider cooking essentials you need in addition to easy meals you can make for a quick dinner or a simple pantry meal. 

Final Thoughts

Cooking from scratch is not as complicated as the notion might sound when first heard. Additionally eating whole foods is the concept of eating real foods and making sure they come from a quality source. Sometimes this isn’t always cost-effective when shopping and therefore, at times I find myself having to juggle what is worth the cost and what is not. Eating real food doesn’t have to cost a fortune and home cooking makes healthy meals possible with the help of basic pantry staples.

A good resource is following the dirty thirty and clean 15. If you have never heard of either of these. It is a list of items that range from highest to least found pesticides in a particular produce item. I keep this list in the note section of my phone so that I have it handy when shopping. You can grab a free printable of this list below.

Check Out My Pantry

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no cost to you).

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