Pantry staples & essentials to keep on hand - Deliciously Clean Eats
Pantry staples & essentials to keep on hand 2

We know the process all too well – you stare at your full-to-the-brim pantry and still can’t find anything to eat or cook with.  Or on the other hand – you have no idea what to buy to keep a well-stocked pantry to cook healthy meals and find many a packet of 2-minute noodles staring back at you from your shelf. Well fear not – a meticulous list of must-have pantry staple items awaits you – from snacks to spices and everything in between.

Pantry staple items essentially refer to foods and ingredients to be kept available at all times to help make up simple meals. They usually have a fairly extended shelf-life and come in cans, packets or bottles. To kick things off:

The flavour profilers

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried herbs
  • Paprika
  • Chilli flakes
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic powder

Salt and pepper are the bread and butter of cooking – there’s next to nothing you can’t add them to and boost flavour.  Then depending on the type of meal you are cooking, dried herbs and spices are a great way to turn something otherwise more on the bland side of things, to a meal boasting flavour. The short list above are just a few of the widely varying options available, that we believe can be used in almost all meal options (even if its just a pinch).


  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Honey
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard

Full disclosure – a few of these will need to go in the fridge when they are opened, but they still have a very extensive shelf life. These sauces can be combined to create oriental flavours for Asian-style cooking, or simply used as a side condiment with your favourite meat and vege.

Cans and jars

  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned legumes and beans
  • Coconut cream
  • Curry paste
  • Tomato paste
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned tuna or salmon

These are the essentials you’ll find in my pantry, but, obviously take this list with a grain of salt – if you don’t eat meat or don’t like tomatoes for example, feel free to omit these. Canned vegetables and legumes can be added to almost all lunch or dinner meals and won’t perish for probably longer than you’ll be alive.


The packet stuff

  • Rice
  • Rice noodles
  • Pasta
  • Oats and cereals

So obviously all of these flavours and condiments need a base to actually be eaten with. Between pasta, rice and noodles you can make an array of different style meals all harbouring a good, filling carbohydrate.

For the bakers

  • Flour
  • White/brown sugar
  • Vanilla essence
  • Baking powder

The basics for any of your cake and biscuit needs. And for the non-bakers, these ingredients are still necessary for things like sweetening or thickening sauces, coating meats, or flavouring saucy meals.

The oily stuff

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Canola spray
  • Sesame oil

We recommend the majority of cooking using little-no oil, but it isn’t always completely avoidable. EVOO is a good unsaturated fat to use when pan-frying or as a non-perishable alternative to butter. Sesame oil is a great way to enhance Asian style flavours in stir-fries and noodle dishes.


  • {insert your favourite snacks here}

We aren’t naïve enough to tell you exactly what snacks to be stocking – everybody has their kryptonite. However, some healthy options include dried fruit, nuts, raw muesli bars, rice cakes or corn thins and unsalted popcorn.

Alas, a fully stocked pantry with endless opportunities.

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