It’s easy to walk through the grocery store and fill your shopping cart with things that make mealtime quick and easy.
Shelf after shelf is filled with boxed, frozen and prepared items that you can just pop in a microwave or oven and have dinner ready in a few minutes.
This is especially true if you are on your first shopping trip of your very first place of your own (or you kid’s 1st apartment!).
Or maybe you have been out on your own for years, but you have finally decided to start eating healthier by cooking real food at home.
While my pantry sometimes gets really low, I’m never without the staples. It’s pretty amazing how you can scrape together a meal when you have a stocked pantry with the basics, plus a handful of other ingredients.
Your First Grocery Trip Shopping List:
You’ll need a lot more than this over time, but all of these items are things every kitchen should have in the pantry.
If you start with this list, and then add other items as you pick out recipes, you’ll eventually have a fully stocked kitchen. And you won’t kill your budget trying to fill your spice rack in one shopping trip.
- Flour – all purpose and whole wheat
- Sugar – regular white sugar plus light brown sugar
- Oil – either vegetable oil, corn oil or canola oil
- Baking powder – you simply can’t bake without this
- Baking soda – needed for baking, but also works great at cleaning up stains
- Salt – iodized salt is your basic table salt
- Vanilla extract – try making your own vanilla!
- Cooking spray – get one that is vegetable oil as it will work for all of your baking plus cooking too
- Powdered milk – the first time realize your milk is spoiled after you start baking, you’ll be glad you have this in the house!
- Oil – light olive oil…the best oil for anything made in a frying pan
- Chicken stock bouillon – granules, cubes or base…you’ll want one of them so you never run out
- Balsamic vinegar – combine some of this with oil and pour over pasta for a meal when you are out of everything else
- Pasta – whole wheat is healthier and tastes great
- Rice – brown rice is healthier, but takes longer to cook and takes more add-in’s to add flavor
- Black peppercorns – then buy a salt & pepper set so you can grind your own fresh pepper
- Kosher salt – makes a huge difference over iodized salt when you are cooking
- Garlic – if you are justing getting one version of garlic, I would start with dried minced garlic or fresh chopped garlic in a jar
- Oregano, basil and italian seasoning – get them all or just one as you can substitute them for each other if needed
- Minced onion – onions go bad and this will save you when you don’t have any fresh ones
- Cinnamon – life just wouldn’t be the same without cinnamon
- Butter – unsalted or lightly salted is fine
- Eggs – the large size is best if you will be baking or making scrambled eggs for dinner
- Milk – whole milk (Vitamin D/red cap or raw milk) is the healthiest option
- Mayonnaise – I strongly prefer Helman’s original version, but you buy what you like
- Parmesan cheese – shredded is much better than the original Kraft Parmesan
- Lemon juice – keep a bottle on hand for when you don’t have fresh lemons
There are a lot of things that I didn’t add to the list that you will buy over and over, or you may consider a staple. Condiments like ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard and soy sauce can help pull together easy meals and also might be used in cooking. Tomato sauce is a must-have for many people, but I’d much rather have a jar of pesto sauce to toss on my pasta.
Your favorite frozen vegetables should also be on your list. Some meat or chicken, and probably some bread.
There are dozens of other items that the new cook will need. But the list above are things I think should be in every single pantry assuming there aren’t any special dietary restrictions.
If you had to stock a generic pantry for someone you didn’t know (meaning you aren’t catering to any specific cooking style, diet or taste), what would you add to this list?
You mentioned tomato sauce and ketchup at the bottom, I also use a whole lot of vinegar because normally (although not this past weekend) I make my own bbq sauces and I think they are better than store bought. I also use vinegar in salads and to make salad dressing. White and cider would be my choices.
You also made me realize that I have some sort of flour hording issues. I have at least five kinds in my pantry right now.
I have some vinegar in my pantry. I don’t think it’s a basic staple because most people don’t make the things from scratch that it is used for. But I would say it is a must-have for a more advanced cook or someone who wants to avoid processed foods.