Stocking the Pantry

If you want to be prepared for anything, here’s what you need to have on hand.

You never know when you'll need to throw together a meal at a moment's notice, and the status of your pantry could determine how successful you are. Here are the essentials of a well-stocked pantry:

  • Tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato puree and diced tomatoes. You can use them for making a sauce or adding to a sausage-and-peppers dish.
  • Canned beans. They can be added to a salad for an inexpensive protein source. Have a variety on hand.
  • A can or two of tuna.
  • Canned broth, either beef or chicken. It's great for a quick soup or for deglazing a pan.
  • Several types of oils and other liquids, such as olive oil, canola oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and Dijon mustard.
  • All-purpose flour in a resealable container with scoop. Add a piece of peppermint gum to the container to keep away mealy bugs. It won't flavor the flour.
  • Granulated sugar in an airtight container. Add a vanilla bean for a subtle flavor if you prefer.
  • Brown sugar in a resealable bag. Add a fresh apple slice to the bag to keep the sugar from hardening.
  • Cornmeal.
  • Flavored bread crumbs.
  • Cornstarch.
  • Powdered sugar.
  • Baking soda.
  • Chocolate chips.
  • Rice in an airtight, labeled container.
  • Pasta in an airtight, labeled container.
  • Herbs and spices. Salt, pepper, bay leaves and chili powder are key. Keep herbs and spices stored in a dark, dry place.
  • Whole garlic bulbs (use immediately if they sprout).
  • Potatoes.
  • Onions.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Evaporated milk, which can be used in many recipes as a substitute for milk.
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