What You Need In Your Working Pantry

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If you’re a beginner prepper, are you wondering what you need in your working pantry? You may have heard the term long-term pantry, which is basically where you store larger quantities of food storage, or items that may have a longer shelf life.

I have smaller containers that I use every week. Well, a 5-gallon bucket of flour or sugar is too much for me to handle these days, so I refill my smaller 2-gallon buckets from the 5-gallon buckets. These smaller containers are not as heavy as the others to haul over to the kitchen countertop as I do my baking, so I appreciate having them. I feel strongly that I need to update this post, please, stock up now.

What is a Working Pantry?

A working pantry is a modest-sized pantry, it isn’t too big or too small. Most of us have the space for a working pantry of some sort. In this day and age, anywhere you can store pantry items can be considered your working pantry. A lot of people use open shelving for their pantry. You can also use cabinetry for your pantry. The picture above is part of my small kitchen. I wish it was larger, but it is what it is. Mark and I cook meals in this kitchen and it brings me joy every single day. Please note, most of you know we are trying to get a permit to build a smaller home in Northern Utah.

What You Need In Your Working Pantry

Some of My Favorite Tools:

What You Need In Your Working Pantry

Let’s break the pantry down into sections, please tell me items you think I should add to each section. I think we can all learn from each other. Remember that everyone’s pantry is different, so this is just my advice. You can always add or take away what you’d like based on your own priorities and cooking preferences. So, let’s get started. Thank you to Heidi, Deborah, and Leanne for previewing my list before I had the PRINTABLE made.

I left off fresh fruit and vegetables because we like to buy those items in the season for the best flavor. Plus, if our garden is producing, we’ll pick fresh vegetables from our own yard. If not, we can buy items from the local Farmer’s Market. In either case, those fresh items will most likely be stored in the fridge, unless we quickly get them canned for pantry storage.

What You Need In Your Working Pantry

Baking Items:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • Honey
  • Vanilla
  • Oil
  • Instant Milk
  • Cocoa
  • Molasses


  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Stevia
  • Non-Calorie Sweetener
  • Molasses

Your Favorite Oils and Vinegar:

  • Olive Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Balsamic
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Vinegar

Assortment of Spices and Seasonings:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder/Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Parsley
  • Au Jus
  • Vanilla
  • Bay Leaves
  • Sweet Basil
  • Lemon Pepper
  • True Brand Lemon
  • True Brand Lime
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
Read More of My Articles  Why You Need To Store The Right Food Storage

Bulk Food:

  • Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Wheat
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cornmeal
  • Oatmeal
  • Instant/Dehydrated Potatoes
  • Popcorn

Dairy Items in the Fridge:

  • Buttermilk
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Coffee Creamer

Fridge Stuff:

  • Salad Dressing
  • Lemon Juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Orange Juice
  • Pickles
  • Salad stuff
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Celery


  • Mayonnaise
  • Miracle Whip
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce

Frequently Used Fresh Vegetables:

  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes

Stuff in the Freezer:

  • Peas
  • Chopped Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Bread
  • Yeast
  • Wheat Gluten
  • Dough Enhancer
  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Pinenuts

Food in Jars:

  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Pickles
  • Gravy
  • Pimentos
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Hot Peppers

Canned Vegetables:

  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Tomato Paste
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Olives

Canned Fruits:

  • Fruit Cocktail
  • Peaches
  • Applesauce
  • Pears
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Pie Filling

Canned Meats/Proteins:

  • Chicken
  • Hamburger
  • Turkey
  • Shredded Beef
  • Roast Beef and Gravy
  • Ham
  • BBQ Pork
  • Spam
  • Corned Beef
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna
  • Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Black Beans
  • White Bean
  • Chili Beans
  • Kidney Beans

Odds and Ends We Need:

  • Olives
  • Water Chestnuts
  • Green Chilies
  • Canned Milk
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Crackers
  • Instant or Powdered Milk
  • Peanut Butter & Jam
  • Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Progresso Soups
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Hot Cocoa

Paper Products:

  • Paper Plates
  • Cold Paper Cups
  • Hot Paper Cups/Lids
  • Straws
  • Plastic Silverware
  • Napkins
  • Paper Towels
  • Garbage Bags

Pet Supplies:

  • Dog Food
  • Dog Treats
  • Dog Chews
  • Cat Food
  • Cat Treats
  • Cat Litter
  • Vitamins

What You Need In Your Working Pantry

You may be wondering why you need these items in a working pantry. Well, when it comes to your pantry and you are an avid cook, you are consistently using various products and always cooking new and fun meals. So, it makes complete sense to have a list of items that you need to have on hand and easily available.

The next time you go to the store, you can simply grab a few things that you don’t have now because you’ve used them, or they need to be added to your inventory based on a new recipe or changing diet requirements. You can also restock items in different sizes now that you know you’ll be using them going forward. A working pantry is a very important part of any household!

My Favorite Recipes To Use With Your Working Pantry:

Free Printable Checklist

PRINT: Grocery List

How do I create a working pantry?

You start with the basics and keep adding what your family will eat. Please include items you can use to cook from scratch.

Can I count the items in my refrigerators?

Absolutely because they are your refrigerator “pantry,” so to speak. We have items that must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Should I include my pet food in my working pantry?

Yes, because they are part of our family and we must stock food for them.

What’s the difference between a storage pantry and a working pantry?

In my opinion, they are similar, but one may be much closer to your kitchen and with easier access. Here’s the deal, our food storage is our source of food that we’ll use to fill our working pantry. It’s all about having enough food so you don’t have to go to the store as often. You’ll, therefore, spend less time and money as you work your storage and meal plan.

How do you stock a pantry for hard times?

If there was ever a time you need to stock a pantry, it is now. Some people may call them a prepping pantry, it’s all about feeding your family now, and having what you need in case of an emergency situation.

What is a working prepper pantry?

It’s basically a pantry you will fill with everything you need for baking, cooking, and feeding your family. You’ll stock, rotate, and replace when needed. Please remember to only fill your pantry with what your family will eat.

What kind of small appliances should I have?

These items don’t require electricity:

Read More of My Articles  Everything You Need To Stock Your Kitchen

How can I better organize my kitchen so I can take advantage of my working pantry?

I like my countertops to be as clutter-free as possible. That means I put things like my toasters, coffee makers, mixer, blender, and other small appliances in what some people call an appliance garage, or corner nook. That way they are out of sight, leaving me with as much counterspace as possible.

If you have a small microwave, a breadmaker, or similar appliances, you may not have enough room in a cabinet. You can work around those appliances as you’re accessorizing your live-in kitchen area. Just make sure you leave enough room so you’ve got a real worktop area.

Some people will have a “transition space” like a breakfast bar or dry bar between their working pantry, worktop space, and breakfast area with a table or dining table. Feel free to dress up your kitchen as you develop a kitchen design theme. You don’t want your kitchen to have a laboratory look.

What should I use to make my kitchen area more functional and easy to clean?

It seems that most new upgraded kitchens are going with a marble top or quartz top these days. Although they are made of stone, you still need to be careful when handling hot pans and be sure to put a hot pad, towel, or other protection when setting pans right from the oven or stovetop on your nice countertop. Nobody wants a discolored area on their fancy countertops.

I would try to steer clear of tile, since the grouted areas seem to be food stain magnets. We had our Corian countertops replaced with a lighter color quartz material a couple of years ago. The lighter color made the kitchen much brighter to work in. We also had a little higher design of backsplash to match. It tended to dress up the kitchen and they were easy to clean.

We did have a front piece added to help protect the lower cabinets from dents and scratches. We also had two of the solar skylights put into the kitchen and dining area. They added so much extra light and didn’t use any electricity, it was awesome!

What kind of interiors and shelving works well for a working pantry?

I have always wanted a walk-in closet style pantry. None of our homes have had kitchens big enough for that approach, even though I’ve always felt the kitchen and related pantry space are the most important rooms of the house. My kitchen is the first place I visit each morning and the last place before bedtime. I’m constantly working on new recipes I can share with my readers, and I love the feeling of a clean, well-lit, kitchen work area.

Our pantry is the size of an entry coat closet, but it does go from floor to ceiling. We have support rails running along the interior walls, with inch-thick wood shelves with various-sized spaces between them to accommodate a variety of can and bottle sizes. We put the large containers on the floor. I have all my buckets labeled to I don’t have to guess what’s inside.

Other Things to Consider:

It’s nice to have your sink close to your pantry so you can add water and clean up your dishes as you go along. It’s nice to be able to do your food preparation with everything close at hand. If your pantry is close, it’s a lot easier. The kind of pantry you decide to build or organize will be what works for you. I like the shelves closer together so I don’t have to stack cans very tall.

My kitchen is the heart of our home, so to speak. We love to cook together, prep together, and bake together. It’s all about teaching our kids and grandkids how to cook from scratch.

It’s nice if you have a snack bar because it gives you more room for working together in the kitchen. For me, it’s the busiest workroom in the house, and I love it! If you have a dedicated workspace for mixing and prepping, it will make your life so much better.

If your dishwasher is nearby, that helps keep our kitchen nice and tidy as we cook or bake with the family. I love it when dinner is ready, and all the prep dishes are already hand-washed or in the dishwasher.

Do any of you have a form of open shelving in the kitchen? I keep seeing them more and more in kitchens.

It’s great to have small hand mixers and large stand mixers, but I’ll be honest with you, I grew up with a bowl and spoon. I made everything in bowls with a spoon. I realize we all want some hand-crank type of appliances so meals can still be prepared when the power goes out, but for now, I still use my modern appliances on a daily basis.

Final Word

I hope you enjoyed what you need in your working pantry tips today. It’s all about having your own mini grocery store at home. We can teach our kids and grandkids how to cook from scratch and how to make fewer visits to the grocery store. If you have a good preparation plan, you start stocking your home with food items you eat on a regular basis and rotate as needed. May God Bless this world, Linda

27 thoughts on “What You Need In Your Working Pantry

  • February 13, 2021 at 8:43 am

    Off the top of my head I would add jam, salsa, napkins, paper towels, and canned soups to use either as an ingredient like Cream of Chicken/Mushroom or a soup ready to eat like Progresso. I made an inventory spreadsheet with items I want to keep on hand and check it twice a year along with organizing my long-term pantry. That way I know when I am getting low on something and can watch for a sale.

    • February 13, 2021 at 8:50 am

      Hi Kay, oh my gosh, I’m adding those right now. How did I forget those???? I Love salsa on just about everything!! LOL! Thank you! Linda

  • February 13, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Linda –
    Wish you could see my kitchen! Then you would really know what a small kitchen is. In your photo you have at least twice as many cupboards and counter space as mine!

    Well, since I’m basically snowed in, I think I’ll do a “working pantry” inventory and make sure I have a good list made for restocking.

    • February 13, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Leanne, You are so cute!! It’s so funny I needed a picture for the post and I have shared so many of my pantry, which is a closet. I was looking at stock photos, and I thought to myself, those kitchens are way too fancy for me, so last night I took a picture of my kitchen. Life is good when we know how to cook from scratch! Linda

  • February 13, 2021 at 11:27 am

    Not exactly a food, but it is something you don’t want to run out of: cat litter. And garbage bags.

    • February 13, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Anne, I need to go add these, thank you!! I was typing away, looking around the house, the pantry, the cupboards, etc. I’m adding these right now! Thank you! Linda

    • February 14, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Trade your kitchen for mine! Adding coffee, tea, and cocoa powder.

      • February 14, 2021 at 3:10 pm

        Hi Alecia, oh my gosh, how did I forget those???? I’m adding them now!! Thank you! Linda

  • February 13, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    If it wasn’t for our slow cookers we would starve. It is a lazy way to cook and the cooks in this house are definitely lazy.

    • February 13, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Hi Suzie, oh my gosh, I LOVE your comment!! I love my slow cookers!! Set and forget! Linda

  • February 13, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    I also have teriyaki and sweet chili sauce.

    • February 13, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      Hi Kathryn, oh I need to add those two!! Thank you!! Great reminder! Linda

  • February 14, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    This list is terrific Linda, thank you! I was thinking about what to do in the morning & I think taking stock of our working pantry sounds like a fun project. 🙂
    You have great cupboard space! Is the plant thyme?

    • February 15, 2021 at 7:23 am

      Hi Amy, thank you for your kind words. The plant you see is from IKEA (artificial and cheap, LOL). I want to get people excited about cooking from scratch! Linda. P.S. I love projects!

  • November 14, 2022 at 8:18 am

    Linda, excellent article and some great comments as well. I don’t have any molasses as neither Jane nor I make anything that uses it. We don’t drink coffee and coffee creamer, but we have some for guests. I do have a bunch of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate mix however as I like drinking it during cold weather.

    • November 14, 2022 at 9:03 am

      HI Ray, thank you, my friend. I love hot chocolate!!! Thats’ a great item to stock up on! Linda

    • November 18, 2022 at 11:45 pm

      i use molasses if i need brown sugar.( i don’t keep brown sugar since i use it rarely)… and for cookies occasionally. we use hot chocolate mix when we need to take meds that are oily…DD and i had been sick need to restock!, (yes i keep cocoa powder,too, and chocolate syrup.)
      i also use a lot of minced onion, and garlic prepared diced….we also keep the garlic powder and onion powder, teriyaki sauce heavily.
      Mushroom powder (i make my own from fresh mushrooms and use several times a week in something.. string beans, pasta sauce, or a casserole .

      • November 19, 2022 at 5:40 pm

        Denise, those are some really good preps. I’m with you on the garlic and onion powders. Jane and I love East West Sweet Ginger Teriyaki Sauce (made in Denver) so we have our local Smith’s store order it in case lots for us. We have teriyaki chicken at least once a month.

        I get the large boxes of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix from Costco and it lasts me a year.

  • November 14, 2022 at 8:49 am

    Smart idea to repost this, not everyone knows how to have a working pantry, I have a grocery pantry like you. There’s going be a time when those 5 gallon staples are going to be priceless. My daughters call me a food hoarder but during the pandemic I really never had to shop and when I did I’d go just as the store opened, less people. I also have gallons of white vinegar on hand for cleaning a long with peroxide And baking soda for cleaning. I don’t use cleaning with chemicals, Believe me you’ll find extra room for the extras, I use under my house it fits the 5 gallon buckets and 5 gallons of water, never known. Hoarder I am, and still learning, keep on sharing Linda.

    • November 14, 2022 at 9:07 am

      Hi Sandy, thank you for your kind words, my sweet friend. I’ve been adding more information and then I repost. There are so many people who need to stock up! I do the same thing as you, if I need something at the grocery store I go really early, with fewer people, and have less of a chance of catching something. I’m sure some people think I’m a hoarder and I’m good with that. You and I can take care of ourselves and our families. So be it. Good job! Linda

      • November 18, 2022 at 11:47 pm

        I had rather be thought of as a hoarder than be hungry. I have been there and done that.Do not plan to make it easy for anyone to put me back there.

        • November 19, 2022 at 8:58 am

          Hi Denise, I agree, they can call us anything they want. We will be able to take care of ourselves. Linda

  • November 15, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    A major snow event is headed our way this weekend. Our pantry is full, as is our medicine cupboard, our toiletries closet, cleaning cabinet and laundry room. Even our holiday gift closet is good thanks to your lists. All I would add, is tomato soup …..and….. wait for it…..DARK CHOCOLATE……lol

    • November 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm

      Hi Chris, I love hearing you are so prepared! Tomato soup has been on sale this month!! Dark chocolate is the best and my very favorite!! LOL! Love it! Linda

  • November 18, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    i have some tomato powder if i need to make tomato anything…incl soup.we use a few cans of rotel and diced tomatoes but soup no. we do not stock any commercially canned soups… i do have canned bone-stock in a few flavors..to make chicken, chicken noodle,beef Caldo.. . We are spoiled to homemade. (we avoid most nightshade items…its a blood type diet thing)..when i first started stocking up.. I bought 2 cans of tomato soup.. and did not use them in 6 years. i finally threw them away.If your family does not use it -Don’t purchase it.

    • November 19, 2022 at 8:59 am

      HI Denise, I use to stock tomato powder and I have made it as well from dehydrated tomatoes. Great reminder! Linda

  • November 18, 2022 at 11:57 pm

    i have some tomato powder if i need to make tomato anything…incl soup.we use a few cans of rotel and diced tomatoes but soup no. we do not stock any commercially canned soups… i do have canned bone-stock in a few flavors..to make chicken, chicken noodle,beef Caldo.. . We are spoiled to homemade. (we avoid most nightshade items…its a blood type diet thing)..
    When i first started stocking up.. I bought 2 cans of tomato soup.. and did not use them in 6 years. i finally threw them away.If your family does not use it -Don’t purchase it.


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