“Pantry” is an antique word with an eternal logic: Cooking is simpler and faster when you already have the ingredients.

Our definition of pantry encompasses refrigerator, freezer and cupboard, so you can make entire meals with “pantry” items.

It is ok not to have everything- there are three levels of pantries- essential, expanded and expert. No two people will agree on a list of staples — but there are fundamentals ingredients to keep on hand that last.

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How to Stock a Modern Pantry

nytimes.com

Store everything you can in clear containers. Airtight plastic ones are best, and available in many shapes, sizes, and systems. Rectangular shapes make the best use of space. 

Keep a roll of painter’s tape and some permanent markers in a kitchen drawer. It’ll help you make quick labels.

BY JULIA MOSKIN

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  • Take everything out of the pantry- this is necessary to assess what can be kept.
  • “Expiration,” “sell by,” and “best by” dates are arbitrary guidelines- different things store differently under different conditions.
  • Definitely clear it out if you haven’t used it in a year.
  • what looks good and smells good?
  • (there’s probably no reason to restock or list what is tossed because if we’re needed it would have been used )

paraphrased

original BY JULIA MOSKIN

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  • After figuring out what is usable and good
  • Now categorize types of ingredients in anyway that makes sense to you.
  • Categories maybe arbitrary, but consider the needs of everyone who uses the kitchen and generally stick with the obvious and accessible.

BY JULIA MOSKIN

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Write a proposal of what to keep in stock for the recipes you like.

Refill with food that supports your cooking goals. 

Be realistic about your habits.

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  • The goal is to only need to get a few fresh ingredients for a good recipe.
  • It is not necessary to have everything- only to have stock of most of the ingredients most of the time.

Buy ground spices in the smallest quantities you can find 

Buy fresh herbs.

Buy heavy, shelf-stable ingredients like boxed broth and canned tomatoes in bulk;

Cooked ingredients are much easier to use up than raw ones.

BY JULIA MOSKIN

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Basic: Extra-virgin olive oil, neutral cooking oil, red-wine vinegar, white vinegar or white-wine vinegar.

Expanded: Peanut oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sherry or balsamic vinegar, apple-cider vinegar.

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Basic: Tuna in olive oil, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock or vegetable stock (box-packed tastes better than canned)

Expanded: Sardines, unsweetened coconut milk, whole Italian plum tomatoes, beef stock (box-packed better than canned).

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Basic: Kosher salt, red-pepper flakes, ground cayenne, curry powder, bay leaves, black peppercorns, sweet paprika, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, garlic powder or granulated garlic, dried thyme and dried oregano.

Expanded: Flaky salt, single-chile powders (such as ancho and pasilla), ground coriander, turmeric, smoked paprika, cardamom, za’atar, allspice, fennel seeds, dry mustard, garam masala (a basic Indian mix of warm spices), five-spice powder (a basic Chinese mix of spices), whole nutmegs.

BY JULIA MOSKIN

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Basic: Long-grain white rice, one or two other grains (such as quinoa or farro), dry pasta (one long, one short and chunky), plain bread crumbs, crackers, canned beans (white beans, black beans and-or chickpeas), dry lentils.

Expanded: Rice noodles, basmati or jasmine rice, brown rice, panko bread crumbs, dry beans.

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Nuts and nut butters: Walnuts, almonds, roasted peanuts, peanut butter (smooth and crunchy).//Almond butter, tahini, pecans.

Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, granulated sugar.

Preserves and pickles: Fruit jams and preserves, anchovies.//Olives (oil-cured and-or in brine), capers in brine.

Condiments and sauces: Basic vinaigrette, mustard (yellow or Dijon), mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, salsa, soy sauce. //Worcestershire sauce, hoisin, Thai red curry paste, fish sauce, anchovy paste, harissa.

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Produce: Garlic, onions, all-purpose potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), lemons, shelf-stable tofu (Essential for vegetarians, Expanded for others).

Expanded: Russet potatoes, carrots, celery, limes, ginger, avocados, parsley, cilantro, scallions, jalapeños.

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Dairy: Eggs, unsalted butter, cheeses (Cheddar, Jack or Colby, Parmesan), milk or cream for cooking (not skim). 

Expanded: Plain full-fat yogurt, more intense cheeses (pecorino, feta), salted butter.

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Basic: Chicken parts, sausages, thick fish fillets, shrimp, thick-sliced bread (for toast), spinach (and other vegetables such as corn and peas), berries (and other fruit such as peaches and mango). Some fruits and vegetables take particularly well to freezing

Expanded: Pancetta, artichoke hearts, homemade stock, homemade bread crumbs, fresh pasta, vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cut and peeled winter squash, chopped onions), cooked grains.

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Baking: All-purpose flour, cornmeal, rolled oats, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, pure vanilla extract, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, bittersweet baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, raisins or another dried fruit, cocoa powder.

Expanded: Cake flour, whole-wheat flour, dark baking chocolate, vanilla beans, almond extract, powdered gelatin, molasses, light corn syrup, buttermilk powder, active dry yeast.

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  1. Oils and vinegars: Walnut oil, avocado oil, roasted sesame oil, pumpkin-seed oil, olio santo (Italian chile-infused oil), rice vinegar, mirin (sweetened Japanese rice wine), verjus (the juice of sour fruit like green apples or grapes), raspberry vinegar, tarragon vinegar.
  2. Spices: Hot smoked paprika (pimentón), sumac, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, flaky dried chiles (such as Aleppo, Urfa or Maras), dried whole chiles (like ancho and arból), marjoram, dukkah, baharat, shichimi.

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  • Grains and starches: Short-grain rice, dried pastas (bucatini, mezzi rigatoni or farfalle), spelt, pearl barley.
  • Nuts and nut butters: Pine nuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pistachios. 
  • Preserves and pickles: Pickled hot peppers, cornichons, kimchi, preserved lemons, roasted chiles, horseradish, caperberries, dried sausages such as saucisson sec and chorizo.
  • Condiments and sauces: Gochujang, mango chutney, miso, wasabi, dark soy sauce, Chinese oyster sauce, Asian chili bean pastes.

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  • Produce: Shallots, fresh mint, fresh rosemary, lemongrass, fresh Serrano and Thai bird chiles, fresh bay leaves.
  • Dairy: Ghee, crème fraîche, aged cheeses (Gruyère, blue cheese). Ghee (Indian-style clarified butter) and crème fraîche reach higher temp.
  • Freezer: Edamame, curry leaves, makrut lime leaves, merguez (spicy lamb sausages from N. Africa). 
  • Baking: Bread flour, pectin, almond flour, tapioca pearls, rose and orange flower waters, gelatin sheets, black cocoa, currants, fresh yeast, sparkling sugar, pearl sugar, candied citrus rind

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