26 Must-Have Pantry Staples: From A to Z


Pantry staples earn their name when they become ingredients that are so versatile, they seem to go in or with almost anything. They become necessities that either inspire a great many number of dishes and treats, or simply serve to make them “work.” If you find yourself wondering whether you’re getting the most from the space assigned to staples in your kitchen, we’re here to help.

Our experts have pulled together the following reference list of the top 26 things every pantry should keep stocked, from A to Z.

Avocado Oil
This light alternative to olive oil has been praised for its health benefits, often called better for you than almost any other oil. Much of this comes from the fact it’s high in monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart, and lutein, which is good for the eyes. You can use it for pan frying, as a buttery marinade, or simply on a salad with fresh herbs. Avocado oil is also what you want to have on hand if you ever decide to make your own mayonnaise. Yum!

If you make your own broth at home using marrow bones, you likely store your broths in the fridge; but if you buy a canned or carton version, broth should be a pantry staple. It’s recommended to keep one of each—veggie, chicken, and beef—on hand at all times given its popularity as a basic ingredient in so many recipes, from slow cooking roasts to pasta-based casseroles to soups.

Chocolate chips
Dark, milk, white, or gluten-free, it’s best to expect the unexpected and just go ahead and keep these babies on-hand at all times. You never know when the urge will hit for some homemade chocolate chip cookies (or granola, chocolate chip waffles, as a yogurt topping, or as the perfect pop-in-your-mouth treat).

Dijon Mustard
Aside from being a really good sandwich spread, Dijon mustard is a perfect dip for crackers, meats, and cheeses. It can spice up your average deviled eggs, giving them a bit of an extra kick over regular mustard. It is also a pretty amazing marinade for chicken and fish, either alone or when mixed with olive oil and lemon.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Speaking of olive oil…This versatile ingredient is one you should never be without. If you’re still pan frying your foods in canola oil, come on over to the EVOO way of life. You’ll be so amazed at the flavor in your foods, you’ll wonder if it’s really the healthier option (but it is). Slather your steaks ahead of grilling with EVOO and watch it act like a meat tenderizer with a silky flavor. You can also use it as the base ingredient in many salad dressing recipes. The list goes on…

If you aren’t on a gluten-free, Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), or Paleo (Paleolithic) diet, then whole wheat or multi-purpose flour is a must-have in every pantry. Even if you’re not a bread-eater, the reasons to have flour on-hand are endless, to include access to a thickening agent, which is called for in roux, soups, and gravies. Need an alternative to regular flour? Some great gluten-free multipurpose flours include Bob’s Red Mill and Glutino Gluten-free Pantry. And, for a complete grain-free diet, simply replace with options such as almond meal, coconut flour, and raw nuts (well-powdered in a food processor).

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About Author

Amy Day

Amy Day is the Associate Publisher and a contributing writer for Strategy Magazine. She has an MBA in Marketing Communications and Strategic Leadership from Southern Methodist University and has been on staff with Strategy for nearly a decade. She is an award-winning business executive with customer service credentials from the Disney Institute. In addition to editorial oversight, her regular beat includes business, customer service, publishing, and family/child wellness.

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