While it’s true that throughout much of the country you can easily go down to the local grocer and pick up any or all of these items whenever you feel the need, the corona virus has shown us in recent times throughout the world that shelves can be empty and you can just as easily be left in want.  These items are the basic that everyone should keep in the pantry.  I’ve broken it down into categories, listing the basics and nice-to-haves.  Stock this, and meals will be better, and the ideas will flow as new tastes and recipes open up worlds for you.

The Cannery

Canned goods.  They’re not just in cans anymore.  Sometimes they’re in jars, or even bottles (ooooh).  They last, and provide for quick and easy meals when you are limited in time or desire of effort.  Technology has improved the process over the years, and it’s a great and inexpensive method to have food on hand at any given time.  I’ll admit, I’m rather limited in the different types of canned goods that I keep in the pantry, but these are what you should have.

Basic

Canned tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole, paste)

Broths and Stocks (chicken, beef, vegetable)

Beans (red kidney, black, pinto, refried) – It’s also good to have dry beans, and I’ll cover that more below.

Olives

Peanut butter

Nice-to-Have

Tuna (in olive oil)

Clam juice

Salmon

Anchovies

Capers

Coconut milk and cream

Soups

Hominy

Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds

Basic

All purpose (AP) flour

Whole wheat flour

Pastas

Rolled oat

Bread crumbs

Cornmeal

Dry beans

Dry lentils

Peanuts

Rice

Nice-to-Have

Bread flour

Barley

Bulgar

Couscous

Polenta

Grits

Cornstarch

Granola

Cereal

Cashews

Walnuts

Pecans

Almonds

Sunflower seeds

Pine nuts

Baking

Basic

Baking soda

Baking powder

Sugar

Yeast

Vanilla

Nice-to-Have

Chocolate chips

Unsweetened cocoa powder

Molasses

Light corn syrup

Condiments, Oils and Vinegars

Basic

Vegetable, canola and grapeseed oil

Extra-virgin olive oil

White (distilled), apple cider, red wine, white wine and rice vinegars

Red and white cooking wines

Ketchup

Mustards

Mayonnaise

Soy sauce

Worcestershire sauce

Nice-to-Have

Other oils

Other vinegars

Cooking sherry

Sriracha and other hot sauces

Hoisin

Chile garlic sauce

Barbeque sauce

Curry paste

Fish sauce

Maple syrup

Coffee

Tea

Herbs and Spices

Basic

Salt

Black peppercorns

Granulated onion

Granulated garlic

Cumin

Crushed red pepper flakes

Paprika (sweet, smoked)

Cinnamon

Oregano

Basil

Bay leaves

Old Bay

Nutmeg

Nice-to-Have

Other peppercorns

Granulated ginger

Thyme

Dill

Sage

Seasoned salt

Mace

Cayenne

Chili powder

Rosemary

Parsley

Saffron

Curry powder

Garam Masala

Turmeric

Tarragon

Celery seed

Fennel

Cardamom

Mustard seed

Mint

Chipotle powder

Ancho powder

Star anise

Allspice

Fenugreek

Sumac

Herbs de Provence

Chinese 5 spice

The Refrigerator

Basic

Milk

Eggs

Plain greek yogurt

Parmesan cheese

Sharp cheddar

Sour cream

Salted and unsalted butter

Nice-to-Have

Buttermilk

Other cheeses

Orange juice

The Freezer

Basic

Fruit

Vegetables

Seafood

Pork

Beef

Nice-to-Have

Other meats

Ice cream

Bread and dough

Homemade soups and sauces

Pasta

In the Bin

Basic

Garlic

Onions

Potatoes

Citrus (lemons, limes, oranges)

Nice-to-Have

Fresh ginger

Dried fruit (apricots, prunes, the list goes on and on)