The Best Foods You Need In Your Pantry

The Best Foods You Need In Your Pantry

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I think we need to consider the best foods you need in your pantry more often. If you have gone to the grocery store lately, you have seen the shelves are not as full as they used to be. That’s why I wanted to update this post from a few years ago before we were experiencing some of the food shortage challenges we see now.

If you watch the news there are various reasons why the shelves aren’t as full as they’ve been in past years. Please don’t panic. Let’s talk about what we can do to get through this rough patch.

I may come on a little strong today because we must teach our kids and grandkids to cook from scratch. I’ll be honest with you, I have never been rich, but I have been poor.

Growing up I didn’t realize we were poor. I look back now and can see my mom did the best job raising three girls alone with the cards she was dealt. My mother could cook anything from scratch.

The Best Foods You Need In Your Pantry

We ate homemade bread, homemade dinner rolls, and the best biscuits on the planet. My mom was a survivor as a single mom doing the best she could, and she did it well. She taught her daughters to sew, cook from scratch, and how to work.

In case you missed this post on how to make a sourdough starter and bread, How To Make A Sourdough Starter + Bread

What You Need In Your Kitchen

The Best Foods You Need In Your Pantry

Of course, there are more items we can stock, but today it’s about teaching our kids and grandkids how to bake, which I feel is critical.

Baking Supplies

1. Flour (bread, all-purpose, or gluten-free 1:1)

Here’s the deal, with this list I have today if you can make tortillas, biscuits, dinner rolls, or bread, you can survive. Please teach your family to make bread of all types. You can serve it with homemade soup to fill the belly.

I’ve grown to love bread flour. I find it works great for all the things I make using flour as an ingredient. Thank goodness we don’t have any family members with gluten issues, so I’m good to go with what’s in my pantry.

I try to use the bread flour I buy within 12 months. Costco is usually where I get the bread flour to use. I do store wheat as one of my pantry staples for its long shelf life, and I have a wheat grinder as a backup plan if the flour isn’t available.

2. Cornmeal and Maseca Corn Flour (store in the freezer)

There’s cornmeal for cornbread, and if we have Maseca cornflour (they make it gluten-free), you can make the most delicious corn tortillas on the planet. In case you missed this post, How To Make Homemade Corn Tortillas

3. Oatmeal

This one is simple, make oatmeal for breakfast, make oatmeal muffins, and use oatmeal as filler to stretch ground beef in meals. Oats have been a whole-grain staple for generations. Learning to cook with oats adds a whole new opportunity to cooking from scratch.

4. Yeast

You can make bread, dinner rolls, pancakes, pizza dough and so much more. My favorite is SAF Instant Yeast (please keep it fresh by storing it in the freezer).

Read More of My Articles  What To Stock Up On In January

5. Wheat Gluten

In case you don’t know what Wheat Gluten is, in a nutshell, it improves the texture of whole wheat bread, as well as the elasticity of the bread dough when making it. If you ever had hard red wheat bread made by grandma (we called them BRICKS), you will love this stuff. I only use hard white wheat, it has less protein than hard red wheat but it tastes much milder. Please store it in the freezer to keep it fresh.

6. Dough Enhancer

I use Dough Enhancer in my wheat bread, my white bread, dinner rolls, and my cinnamon rolls. It makes your end product soft and fluffy. It’s optional, but I always have it. Please store it in the freezer to keep it fresh.

7. Baking Soda

We need baking soda because it’s a leavening agent and helps make our cakes, cookies, and muffins, light and fluffy.

8. Baking Powder

Baking powder increases the volume of what we’re baking and lightens the texture. It makes the batter expand and bubble through leavening it.

9. Honey

Honey, need I say more, it’s a great sweetener for our whole wheat bread. I love it when I have a cold coming on in warm green tea with a lemon squeeze and a bit of honey. It’s perfect on a bowl of oatmeal and spread on peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

For sweeteners, I also use pure maple syrup in many of my recipes.

10. Sugar

We need it for baking, coffee, tea, dessert recipes, and sprinkled-on cereal.

11. Brown Sugar

Brown sugar adds so much flavor to recipes, we can’t live without it. And we can make our own Brown Sugar!

12. Powdered Sugar

When I think of powdered sugar, I think of making frosting and sometimes sprinkling on cookies, candy, and gingerbread!

13. Molasses

My mother used molasses to make her “brown bread.” I need to cut down her recipe and share it with you. You can mix molasses with white granulated sugar to make your fresh brown sugar at the last minute!

14. Cocoa Powder

Oh my, chocolate cookies, hot chocolate, hot cocoa, chocolate frosting, chocolate cake, brownies, and muffins!

15. Chocolate Chips

I can never, ever, run out of chocolate chips. I love to make chocolate chip cookies and eat chocolate chips in a bowl as a snack. Don’t forget pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, oh yeah, pumpkin with chocolate, great combination!

16. Raisins

Do you love raisins in some bread, dinner rolls, muffins, and oatmeal? I sure do! Some of my family members are not fond of them, but I eat them as a snack!

17. Salt

Salt is added to enhance flavors in meals, and most recipes. It’s an inexpensive food item to stock. Please remember to not use oxygen absorbers in salt. The salt will become a brick. Keep it dry and cool and it will last many years. My favorite salts are Redmond Fine Salt, Redmond Coarse/Kosher Salt, and Himalayan Pink Salt.

18. Oil

We all need to store oil if we cook or bake. The biggest function of oil in baked goods is to keep your product moist, such as cakes, muffins, or cookies. Plus, who doesn’t love to make their homemade salad dressings? I realize everyone has their favorite oil for baking, cooking, and frying food. I store olive oil, coconut oil, and vegetable oil. They say that extra virgin olive oil is more healthy, so that’s what I buy for my cooking needs.

If you do much stir-frying, consider using sesame oil made from sesame seeds.

19. Canned Pumpkin

There have been years we couldn’t get pumpkin in a can. We need it for muffins, cookies, cakes, and so many other recipes!

20. Eggs (refrigerator)

We all know eggs can provide structure, leavening, richness, and color, and enhance the wonderful flavor of our baked goods. Of course, eggs are for scrambled eggs and so many other recipes.! You can purchase commercially prepared dehydrated and freeze-dried eggs and I’ll use them as a baked goods ingredient.

21. Butter (refrigerator)

Need I say more, we need butter. I freeze my butter in the packages they come in. I stock up when it’s on sale. But you can’t beat Costco’s price on butter where I live. I always buy salted butter, it’s my favorite to stock.

22. Milk (refrigerator)

Most people stock their refrigerator with milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. There are so many reasons we all need milk, for cereal, cooking, and baking food items.

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You can buy commercially prepared instant milk for longer-term storage. Just be sure to check the expiration dates from time to time.

23. Cream Cheese (refrigerator)

I always have cream cheese in the refrigerator. I tried freezing it, but I didn’t like the texture. You can save money sometimes if you buy double packs (2 in a box).

24. Sour Cream (refrigerator)

Well, I confess I love dips and chips. I know, it’s not a healthy snack, but at my age, I love them. I love recipes with sour cream, including cookies, casseroles, and even a dollop on top of soup. In case you missed this post, Soft Cream Cheese Frosted Sugar Cookies

25. Evaporated Milk

My mom stocked a lot of evaporated milk. I use very little, but I do like to have about 5 cans in the pantry ready for when I need to make something. The nice thing about shelf-stable evaporated milk is that it stays good for about 2 years unopened in your pantry.

26. Sweetened Condensed Milk

My favorite way to use sweetened condensed milk is for my Caramel Popcorn recipe. I don’t overstock this item, but I do like about 5 cans in the pantry to have ready.

27. Nuts (freezer) almonds, pecans, and walnuts, and pine nuts

There are so many recipes where we can use various nuts. If we freeze them, you always have some available when needed. Bonus, they are great snacks. I love pine nuts in salads as well. I buy them once a year at Costco (without the shell). Yes, they are expensive, but you use very little in spinach salads and the crunch is the best!

28. Coconut (freezer)

I freeze my coconut to keep it fresh. It’s ready when I need it. I have the best coconut recipe, but this one is my favorite, The Best 7-Layer Bars. There are so many ways to add coconut to a muffin recipe. Sprinkle it on whipping cream frosted cakes, and so much more. Now I want to make a cake!

29. Vanilla Extract

Vanilla adds flavor to whipping cream, pie fillings, cookies, and cakes.

30. Spices (cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, ground cloves) & Herbs

Baking or cooking with spices is critical to making the perfect cookies, cakes, and many other recipes! In case you missed this post, 25 Items I Recommend For Your Spice Rack

You also need a variety of herbs in your pantry. I have a spice rack where I can store my parsley, onion powder, chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, cumin, bay leaves, curry powder, cayenne powder, and more.

31. Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar helps stabilize whipped egg whites, prevents sugar from crystallizing, and also acts as a leavening agent for so many baked goods.

32. Vinegar

It’s used when pickling liquids, making vinaigrettes, and other salad dressings. We use it as an ingredient in sauces, such as hot sauce, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

33. Pineapple (Crushed or Chunks)

I was reminded to add pineapple, oh, how I love it! You can add crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks to so many recipes. This is my favorite recipe with crushed pineapple, Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip Appetizer

You should also have other fruits and veggies as canned goods in your pantry. I like to buy my canned goods in the fall when many of the local grocery stores have “case lot sales.” You can get vegetables like corn, peas, onions, tomatoes, black beans, broccoli, and other favorites in non-perishable form as canned goods.

I also buy canned fruits, like apricots, peaches, pears, blueberries, mandarin orange slices, fruits, and cherries.

Canned meats are also good sources of protein. I have canned chicken, tuna fish, beef, and pork. It’s also wise to have some broth on hand, like chick broth. This is in case you don’t have access to fresh meat but you want that flavor in your meal preparation.

34. Chocolate Lots of Chocolate (thank you, Chris)

Dark chocolate-covered raisins, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate truffles, peanut butter for cookies with chocolate Hershey kisses in them. Chocolate ice cream, Chocolate M&M’s, Dark chocolate for the coconut in the freezer. Chocolate advent calendars. A day without chocolate is worse than a day without sunshine.

35. Pasta

Pasta is a shelf-stable food that comes in so many shapes and sizes. We love spaghetti and make it at least once or twice a month. There are many options when it comes to pasta meals, and you don’t have to have an Italian background to love them.

36. Rice

Like pasta, rice is great for longer-term storage, and it has so many possibilities when made part of your meal planning schedule. This week, I used rice as a base and smothered it with gravies, sauces, and meats for different meals. Rice is a family favorite for us, and I’m sure yours is too.

Final Word

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts today on the best foods you need in your pantry. So many families know how to bake and cook from scratch, but many don’t. I love to bake and cook, it’s my passion.

I love new recipes and new ideas. If you see something I need to add to this list, please let me know. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Bread Dough AdobeStock_274791136 New Africa

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  1. I also keep can pumpkin on hand. I like to also use it when I make bread pudding. If I don’t have crushed pineapple I use can pumpkin. Gives bread pudding a slight orange look, great for Halloween.

  2. Good list. I would add one thing to it. A good sourdough recipe. Yeast can go bad unexpectedly, and you may still want to make bread.

  3. I also use lots of different extracts – so much that some I buy in the pint size at a restaurant supply or cooking store like Orson Gygi’s in Salt Lake. My favorites for pint size are almond, peppermint, lemon, banana, and coconut. I buy the small sizes of rum, orange, and cherry. I also like the pint size bottle of red food coloring since Red Velvet recipes use so much (which I usually have no adverse results).

    1. Hi Kay, oh my gosh, I love Orson Gygi’s!! I did not know that I could buy red food coloring in pints! I will be closer to that store next week! YAY!! Thanks for that awesome tip! Linda

    1. Hi Chuck, oh my gosh, this made me giggle! The funny thing is I love both of those!! I only get Pop-Tarts when I go see my grandkids!! Great comment, you made my day! Linda

  4. On Item #15, do you eat the chocolate chip cookies from a bowl as a snack or just the chocolate chips? Asking for a friend.

    1. Hi Karl, I have the giggles now!! Oh my gosh, you made my day! Asking for a friend is the best! LOL! I can’t stop laughing, the best comment ever! I fixed the post, thank you, my friend!! Linda

  5. Hi Linda! Yes the world would be better off if we all knew how to cook from scratch. My kids and all the grands know how. Even the youngest who is 6 can read and follow a simple recipe. She tells me she wants to be a chef when she grows up!

    1. Hi Paula, oh my gosh, that is so awesome to hear! I want to be a chef! Now, she’s been taught how “fun” it is or enjoyable however you want to say it! Proud mama and grandma for sure! Isn’t it wonderful that they all know how to cook from scratch??? I love this! Linda

  6. I have no desire to be critical but I found your list lacking. There is no dark chocolate covered raisins, no chocolate covered peanuts, no chocolate truffles, no peanut butter for cookies with chocolate Hershey kisses in them. No chocolate ice cream, no chocolate M & Ms, no dark chocolate for the coconut in the freezer. No chocolate advent calendars. A day without chocolate is worse than a day without sunshine.

    1. Hi Chris, oh my gosh, how did I forget chocolate??? I am going to add EVERY SINGLE ONE of these to my list! I have the giggles so bad! You listed EVERY SINGLE ONF OF MY FAVORITES!! You made my day, thank you! I love it! Linda

  7. Linda,

    Okay now I need to go get Wheat Gluten. I had all the other stuff and a bunch besides, but had never even thought of wheat gluten–probably because I store all purpose flour instead of grinding my own from hard wheat berries. And we don’t have but a single jar of molasses and God knows how old it is. We don’t use it.

    I would add white rice and dried beans to the list–and maybe sliced canned peaches as well. Oh, and applesauce if you don’t have apple trees.

    1. Hi Ray, if you hardly ever use molasses I wouldn’t store a lot of it. Once I open the jar, I don’t keep it long, I feel it goes bad when opened for a few months. That’s why I buy small jars. I’m writing another post on main dish pantry needs. Oh, you are so lucky to have apple trees! I use to can peaches and my kids would eat a whole quart with homemade bread with peanut butter on it. Life is so good with peaches and applesauce! You will be amazed how the wheat gluten and dough enhancer makes your bread so soft with freshly ground wheat flour. Yummy! Linda

  8. I’ve been getting your emails for several years. During the pandemic I became more focused on being prepared (in spite of some teasing from family……my daughter said ‘if you have food buckets, you are a prepper”. I had been calling myself a ‘Girl Scout’, not a ‘Prepper”……..but I DO have buckets and buckets of flour, sugar, dried beans, etc. LOL. Anyway, All your posts are so helpful in keeping me up to date on things I might need. Always room for improvement!

    1. Hi Suzanne, you made my day! Thank you for your kind words! I think we were “preppers” before the word ever came to be. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts “get it”, they know how to prepare. I LOVE hearing you have buckets and buckets. I confess, when the pandemic hit, I had like 12 packages of Costco toilet paper in the huge bags. We had neighbors with only one roll of toilet paper?? WHAT?? LOL! Who only has one roll? I shared some of mine but next time they are on their own. I have moved to Northern Utah. I hope some of the families in the world understand the need to stock. It’s a way of life for us. Linda

  9. What is the best way to store salt, in the box or in smaller jars? I have a bucket stored for food preservation but realized with just 2 of us, opening a bucket will waste it. I figured if it’s not good to store it in the cardboard box, then I would put it in pint jars. Thanks in advance for your advice.

  10. I cannot imagine why I never commented on the original post!! But something I think bears talking about. Oh and I like everything on the list and have pretty much all of the items in some sort of quantity.

    Based on the dates in the comments, the original the original post was written in the midst of the pandemic. I was at a grocery store at one point when the shelves were bare. I had plenty of pasta at home but no sauce. One thing I noticed right away was that there was no pasta sauce. NONE!! But there were a lot of cans of tomato products – just shows that most people either do not have the skills to make something like pasta sauce on their own or they are just lazy! Anyway, I like the convenience of some things like pasta sauce but I do know how to make a reasonable pasta sauce from bare ingredients!! There were a number of other situations that made me think about getting and stocking the ingredients to make my favorite convenience foods.

    Also, it is not enough to have all of the ingredients if you don’t know how to use them. Case in point – you have flour and yeast, but you don’t have the first clue as to how to make bread. Or like a woman in line in front of me – she bought flour and told the clerk she was going to go home and make bread. I saw that she didn’t have yeast on the conveyer belt and asked if she had yeast at home (because at the time, you would have had to sell your first-born son to get some!!!) and she started crying because she didn’t know how to make bread in the first place.

    My reason for these stories is that, while 99% of those of us who read your blog, Linda, know how to cook from scratch, there might be that 1% who don’t know. And, when things go down the rabbit hole when it comes to food stored, an emergency is not the time to learn. The time to learn is right now and have those recipes handy. In fact, it might be worth it to take everything you buy at the store and say to yourself – “can I make that? and what do I need to have on hand to do so?” I am not talking about raw ingredients but those things we CAN make at home if we only know how and have the ingredients.

  11. Linda, regarding honey: If you can find locally sourced, raw, unfiltered honey, grab it. It will help you develop resistance to local allergens, in addition to being delicious.

    Oh, and what about nuts? Gotta have nuts.

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