Cooking Essentials for Your Pantry & Refrigerator ￼
Whether you’re just starting out on your cooking adventure or you are ready to make some changes, it can be daunting to shop for pantry and refrigerator basics. With so many herbs, spices, and other grocery items to choose from, it can be difficult to know what will be most useful.
Use this list of pantry essentials to start stocking up item by item, not all at once. Once you have a stocked pantry, be able to pull together meals on the fly without any extra trips to the store.
Tofu, extra firm
Low or Greek yogurt
Jarred | Canned
Peanut butter, sugar-free (or other nut butter of choice)
Light (reduced fat) coconut milk
Whole peeled tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil (store in cool, dark place)
Avocado, grapeseed, or sunflower oil
Choose 1-2 vinegars that you think you will use the most.
Apple cider vinegar
Vegetable and/or chicken stock, low sodium
Soy sauce or tamari, low sodium
Select 2 types of beans or lentils to get started. Dried or canned beans will work – just remember to rinse canned beans before using.
White beans (Cannellini, great northern, or navy beans)
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Red split lentils
French green lentils
Long grain brown rice
Whole wheat pasta
Nuts | Seeds | Dried Fruit
Nuts/seeds – look for no added oil and no salt; dried fruit – look for no added oils and no added sugar.
Walnuts, whole (shelled)
Store these ingredients in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
Whole-wheat pastry flour (store in refrigerator or freezer to increase shelf life)
Evaporated cane sugar
In addition to salt and pepper, select 2-4 spices to get your collection started. Store spices in airtight containers inside a dark cupboard, not out on a rack, to keep them fresh longer.
Mild curry powder
Black peppercorns (with grinder, if needed)
Fine sea salt and/or kosher salt
Small garden peas
Blueberries or raspberries
Mango chunks or peaches
Nice-to-Have (But Less Essential) Ingredients
These ingredients are beyond the basics, but you may notice them appearing in recipes once you start cooking more often. Once you begin to get more creative with cooking, many of these ingredients will help you to boost the flavor of your meals.
Jarred | Canned
Tahini (sesame seed paste)
Chipotles in adobo
Red wine vinegar
Chili/red pepper flakes
Paprika, Hungarian (or sweet)
In the next activity, you’ll learn more about how to select and store produce via the article titled: How to Make Choices for Common Products When Shopping.
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