Staples for Your Pantry, Refrigerator, and Freezer

Part of the Cooking Basics For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Family hungry and nothing to cook? Make sure that never happens again. If you always keep these staples in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, you’ll never again be stuck with no option but takeout. You can certainly add to these lists, but these essentials can always help you make a good meal. For items you use regularly (such as bread, eggs, and milk), plan to restock about once a week.

Pantry

  • Baking powder

  • Baking soda

  • Bread

  • Brown sugar

  • Canned beans (pinto, white, or black)

  • Cereal (hot or cold)

  • Chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

  • Cider or white vinegar

  • Cocoa powder

  • Coffee and/or tea

  • Condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, pickles, and pickle relish

  • Cornstarch

  • Dried herbs: Basil, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, and parsley

  • Flour

  • Granulated sugar

  • Ground spices: Black pepper, cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes), chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, curry powder, ginger, dry mustard, nutmeg, and paprika

  • Jam, jelly, or preserves

  • Pancake syrup

  • Pasta

  • Peanut butter

  • Powdered sugar

  • Rice

  • Salt

  • Tomato sauce, paste, and canned tomatoes

  • Vanilla extract

  • Vegetable oil

Refrigerator

  • Butter

  • Cheese (hard and soft)

  • Eggs

  • Fresh fruit

  • Fresh vegetables, including leafy greens

  • Meat, fish, poultry, or tofu to last three to five days

  • Milk

  • Yogurt and/or sour cream

Freezer

  • Frozen fruit, for smoothies and sauces

  • Frozen vegetables you will actually eat

  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt

  • Meat, poultry, and/or fish to last about a week

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