If you’re a beginner cook or just moved into a new apartment, you may be wondering how to stock your pantry.
Turns out, there are standard items every home chef turns to again and again.
We scoured two recent cooking threads on Reddit where users divulged their ultimate lists of things to keep in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
You can add onions to nearly any savory recipe, from salads to stews, and they’ll likely make it better.
Keep shallots, red onions, and white onions in your pantry so you can mix and match by the type of flavor you want: white and yellow onions will mellow as they cook, shallots are especially good raw with dressings or in salads, and red onions are great additions to sandwiches.
2. Chicken or vegetable broth
Whether you buy it or make your own, broth will add flavor to meats, soups, carbs like rice and pasta, and your sauces.
And if you want to make steamed vegetables taste less bland, steam them in two inches of chicken stock. It also helps them keep their nutrients, according to Livestrong.
Whether you choose olive, avocado, canola, or coconut oil — or any of the other oils you can cook with — oil is a necessary ingredient for sautéing, frying, and baking.
Different cooking oils will serve different needs. When in doubt, refer to Bon Appétit’s handy break down.
Salt is in nearly every recipe, so this one is a no-brainer.
But what you might not realize is that you should keep a variety of salts on hand. Table, kosher, and sea salts all have different textures and uses, from all-purpose cooking to presentation only.
If you’re into baking, you’ll want to keep a bunch of sticks of butter in the fridge just to have on hand. Some cookie recipes include two entire sticks of butter, so it can’t hurt to be prepared.
Plus, butter adds its delicious flavor to eggs, meats, and grains. You really can’t go wrong with butter.
Whether it’s melting in your steaming hot bowl of pasta or slapped onto a sandwich, cheese adds a subtle flavor and texture to your meal.
Keep a few different kinds of cheeses in your fridge for a variety of melting points and flavor combinations. Two of our favorites? Parmesan, which keeps for a long time, and cheddar, which goes with everything.
Another baking staple, sugar is also super handy for sweetening fruits, beverages, and is even a necessary ingredient in glazes and sauces.
Make sure to store your sugar in an airtight container so it doesn’t become lumpy.
Not only do oats store surprisingly well, but they’re cheap and have more protein than wheat or rice.
Keep your oats in an airtight container in a cool, dry area. If you have a lot of oats you’re not using, freezing is recommended.
9. Canned beans
Beans are a super-food filled with fiber and protein, and are easy to cook.
Keeping a few cans in your pantry will help you whip up a variety of meals, from vegetarian foods to hearty chilies, burgers, and even delicious breakfasts.
10. Rice (or your preferred grain)
There are a lot of rice and grain options out there to explore. White rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice — the list goes on and on.
The important thing to know is that rice is cheap, filling, and a good base for a variety of dishes.
11. Spices and seasonings
Okay, this one is kind of a cop-out, but spices are obviously necessary to have in the kitchen. We recommend starting out with cinnamon, cayenne, basil, oregano, and black pepper since these are some of the most-used spices.
Once you master those, add chili flakes, nutmeg, and curry powder to your wheel house. Your mouth will thank you.
Flour is not just for baking. It can be used to thicken sauces or soups and coat foods you’re going to be frying.
It can’t hurt to keep a bag handy, but be sure to store it in an airtight container, preferably in a cool, dark spot.
While some people don’t love the flavor, Garlic was on nearly everyone’s list of necessary ingredients to keep in your pantry.
If it’s too pungent or strong for you, try cooking — not roasting — the garlic to soften the flavor.
Eggs are cheap, will keep for a fairly long time, and are an excellent source of protein. Plus, they’re useful if you’re a baker.
For cooking, you can add them to salads, fried rice, or breakfast dishes and because there a variety of ways to cook them (scrambled, poached, fried, or boiled), you’ll never feel bored.
15. Frozen bag of mixed veggies
For those days when you simply can’t bring yourself to chop anything, a frozen bag of mixed vegetables will win the day.
Not only that, but if you’re making your own fried rice or pasta, a cup of frozen vegetables are a really easy, healthy add-in without any extra prep.
If your food is bland, hold off on adding salt to it — what it really might need is a squeeze of citrus.
Fresh lemon (or lime) juice will add another layer of flavor and help brighten your dishes. Plus, lemon juice is a killer marinade for meats and will be useful in salad dressings, too.
Wine is a useful marinade ingredient and can add flavor to a sauce or finished dish.
You should only use wines that you would be willing to drink because — surprise! — if you like the way the wine tastes, you’ll like the way it tastes in your cooking, too.
Plus, if there are leftovers, you can drink it. Bottoms up.
Author: Tom Green
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