I love to cook and bake. But you probably already knew that, since I have a food blog (I know, right?) and am majoring in food science! The one thing you need if you love to cook like I do? A well-stocked pantry!
It’s easy to make most recipes as long as you have a pantry full of essentials; there’s no need to go to the store if you already have all the necessary ingredients. My advice is to look at the recipe you plan to make beforehand, then gather your ingredients before cooking to make sure you have everything you need. I know from experience that it’s annoying to realize you’re out of flour halfway through making a cake! Having a stocked pantry prevents trips to the store for things like a forgotten spice, and it allows you to create chocolate chip cookies whenever you crave them (so basically every day).
All of these staple ingredients can be found in most supermarkets. My favorite grocery stores are Aldi, Fresh Thyme, Trader Joe’s, and Meijer (like Walmart or Kroger for you non-midwesterners). I get most of these staples at Aldi because they’re cheapest there and I’m a poor college student. Save this list (DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE) and get shopping!
- Brown rice
- Organic quinoa (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature – $3.49 for a 16 oz bag)
- Spaghetti noodles
- Bowtie pasta
- Penne pasta
- Quick oats (store: Aldi, brand: Millville – $1.99 for a 42 oz container)
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato paste
- Black beans
- Coconut milk (Trader Joe’s is the best)
- Canola oil (store: Aldi – $1.85 for 48 fl oz)
- Vegetable oil (store: Aldi)
- Vegetable broth (store: Aldi)
- Soy sauce
- Chili garlic sauce
- Organic apple cider vinegar (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature)
- Maple syrup (store: Aldi or Fresh Thyme)
- Agave (store: Aldi or Fresh Thyme)
- Flour (store: Aldi, brand: Baker’s Corner)
- Sugar (store: Aldi, brand: Baker’s Corner)
- Brown sugar (store: Aldi, brand: Baker’s Corner)
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Vanilla (store: Aldi, brand: Stonemill)
- Baking cocoa
- Powdered sugar
- Organic cane sugar (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature)
- Organic coconut oil (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature – only $4.49 per jar)
- Brown milled flax seed (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature – only $1.79 for a 14 oz bag)
- Chia seeds (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature – only $3.49 for a 12 oz bag)
- Pitted dates (store: Aldi, brand: Southern Grove, seasonal)
- Chocolate chunks (store: Fresh Thyme, brand: Enjoy Life)
- Chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s brand – only $1.99/ bag!)
Spices – cheapest at Aldi ($1.19 per container), Stonemill brand
- Nutritional yeast (bought in bulk from Fresh Thyme)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Red pepper flakes
Staple Refrigerator Products – buy bi-weekly or so.
- Vegan margarine (store: Fresh Thyme, Mejier, or Trader Joe’s, brand: Earth Balance)
- Vegan yogurt (store: Fresh Thyme or Meijer, brand: So Delicious – my favorite flavor is unsweetened vanilla)
- Non-Dairy “milk” (my favorites: Silk vanilla soy milk for drinking, Silk unsweetened almond milk for baking, Good Karma vanilla flax milk for drinking & in cereal)
- Tofu (Store: Fresh Thyme or Meijer)
- Nut butter
- Creamy peanut butter (store: Aldi, brand: Peanut Delight). I usually get the 40 oz jar because I’m addicted to peanut butter.
- Sunflower seed butter (store: Fresh Thyme or Meijer, brand: Sunbutter). I only buy this when I’m feeling fancy.
- Sugar cookie peanut butter (store: Fresh Thyme, brand: Wild Friends, seasonal). I buy this around the holidays when I want to treat myself.
- Tortilla Chips
- White rounds (store: Aldi, brand: Clancy’s – only $0.89 for a 13 oz bag)
- Pumpkin tortilla chips (store: Aldi, brand: Simply Nature, seasonal)
- Bite size rounds (store: Meijer, brand: Tostitos)
- “Hint of lime” tortilla chips (store: Mejier, brand: Tostitos).
- Cereal – I buy a box occasionally as a snack.
- Granola – I always have a bag of granola on hand.
- Harvest Blend Herbal (store & brand: Trader Joe’s, seasonal)
- Vanilla & Cinnamon Black (store & brand: Trader Joe’s, seasonal)
- English Breakfast
Besides ingredients, you need tools to cook and bake. Like, it’s kind of hard to bake a cake without a pan or make soup without a pot. This list is a relatively simple selection of tools that will vastly improve your kitchen experiences. I mean, chef knives make cutting so much easier! You might need more tools than these for fancier recipes and procedures but these work for the basics.
- Cutting board
- Sharp (chef) knives
- Vegetable peeler
- Measuring cups
- Stovetop pan
- Roasting pan
- Casserole/ baking dish
- Soup pot
- Cookie scoop
- Mixing bowl
- Baking sheets
- Square or round 8” baking pan
- Muffin tin