The top pantry items to always have in your kitchen

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Cameron Rogers (@FreckledFoodie) is an In The Know Cooking contributor. Follow her on Instagram and check out her website for more.

If you live in New York City — or any other city without access to a car — you know the struggle of carrying home groceries. That’s especially true if you’re like me and you live a good 15-plus blocks from your favorite grocery stores.

In an effort to limit my hauls, I try to take advantage of my pantry, making sure I am fully stocked between trips. Not only do my biceps thank me while walking home from the grocery store with one bag versus four, but I am also prepared to throw together a meal on a whim. To help you do the same, here are the items you need stocked in your pantry.

To start, I always have things on hand for when the desire to bake hits — which happens more often than not. For this, I recommend having an array of flours in your pantry, such as all-purpose, whole wheat, almond, coconut and oat flour, along with oats, both steel and rolled. I also recommend having all sorts of seeds on hand (chia, flax, hemp, etc.) and nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, etc.) to ramp up the baked goods and breakfast recipe.

With this roster of items, I know that I can always make some of my breakfast and snack essentials like chia seed pudding or cinnamon almond granola whenever the craving strikes. To assist with the baking and savory cooking, it’s important to always have an array of oils around. I prefer to always have coconut oil for baking, avocado oil for roasting vegetables and olive oil and vinegars (balsamic, red wine, white wine, etc.) for dressings and toppings. 

@FreckledFoodie’s cinnamon almond granola. (Credit: Cameron Rogers)

Moving on to savory items, I like knowing I have items in my pantry to whip together a quick lunch or dinner. That said, I stock my pantry with all sorts of grains and pastas to serve as the base of any dish, whether it be rice, quinoa, millet or any pasta shape I’m loving at the moment. After all, we all have the nights when life is just too much, and there isn’t enough time to make that elaborate meal you had originally planned.

In addition to these grains and pastas, I also recommend having an array of canned items in your pantry. Think: coconut milk, legumes (black beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.), crushed tomatoes and tomato sauces. Having these items on hand is one of the reasons I end up making my beef chili almost weekly.

@FreckledFoodie’s beef chili. (Credit: Cameron Rogers)

Along with these essentials, it’s obviously critical to make sure you have a proper collection of spices. No one — and I mean no one — should be eating bland and unsatisfying meals. I always have the following on hand: sea salt, fresh black pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes, curry powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, thyme and chili powder. That’s just the beginning of my collection, but it covers the basics for anyone looking to spice things up. Pun intended.

Keeping my pantry stocked saves me from making many last-second grocery store runs and gives me reassurance that there’s something in my apartment to whip together for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Cameron Rogers’ top kitchen appliance recommendations for your apartment.

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