Here's Where to Start...

Good Ingredients are the Heart of Good Dishes

Here is a most fundamental list for a well-stocked, everyday pantry, and although we won't have all of these on hand at all times, it is a first step. This pantry alone has the potential to see you through many scrappy (but satisfying) meals on its own. 

Since these ingredients also lay the groundwork for your dishes, make sure to acquire the best and most sustainable of each you can find and afford. The best time to source these staples is not only when they are running low, but when they are on sale at the market!

The Basics

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Canola, Sunflower, or Other "Neutral" Oil
  • Red Wine and White Wine Vinegars 
  • Good Salt (Kosher for general use, and coarse Sea Salt, such as Maldon)
  • Peppercorns (fill a decent grinder with these)
  • Some Dried Herbs and Spices: such as cayenne, dried oregano and/or thyme, sweet and smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, ground curry
  • Pasta (a few different shapes and sizes)
  • Grains (such as quinoa or bulgur)
  • Beans (a variety of canned and/or dried, such as cannellini, black, pinto, and chickpeas)
  • Lentils (such as red and green)
  • Rice (long or short grain white, brown, and/or wild rice) 
  • Canned Tomatoes (make sure they are salt-free)
  • Flours (unbleached, all-purpose white flour and whole wheat pastry flour; look for stoneground products)
  • Sugar 
  • Honey (local and raw are lovely and more readily available than ever)
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Soy Sauce or Tamari

Fresh Staples

  • Garlic Bulb (keep in a dark, cool location)
  • Onion (don't be too picky on color)
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Eggs (preferably local and "pastured")
  • Lemon (yes, a real live lemon)
  • Butter (preferably unsalted, organic, and "pastured")
  • Dijon Mustard (or whole grain)
  • Cheese (preferably unshredded, especially Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • Chicken Stock/Base (preferably your own, stored in the freezer)

Not Essential, But Charming

  • Tomato Paste
  • Tahini
  • Peanut, Sesame, and/or Coconut Oil
  • Tortillas (which can be frozen; our favorite is whole wheat)
  • Nuts and Dried Fruit (think impromptu salads!)
  • Active Dry Yeast (always check the expiration date!)
  • Bread Flours (if you fancy making your own dough, try white and whole wheat to start)
  • Buttermilk
  • Bread
  • Milk (look for certified organic, and "grass-fed" is even better, or non-dairy milk)
  • Curry pastes (green and/or red, or make your own & freeze)
  • Yogurt (look for certified organic, and "grass-fed" and "cream top" is even better)
  • Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • Canned Tuna (as sustainable a product as you can source)


A strong pantry is a sexy thing. Really, it says I’m ready to go and want for nothing. It says give me a few minutes, maybe a half hour, and I’ll make you something delicious. Read more...


"There’s the satisfaction that comes from taking responsibility for what we eat instead of turning it over to others.”

--Deborah Madison

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