50 Grocery Staples You Should Always Have on Hand

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When you make your grocery shopping list, are you sure you’re including everything you need? Many shoppers only buy the items they use often, causing them to run back to the store when they get the urge to cook something new. Keeping a stocked kitchen is even harder for those who don’t make shopping lists at all. When you don’t have a checklist of the items you need, it’s easy to leave essential items on the shelves – including the one thing you went to the store for in the first place.

These grocery staples are used in a wide variety of recipes, though some are fine to eat on their own. Whether you use those ingredients now or in the future, you’ll be happy you had them readily available when it’s time to cook. You may be surprised at what you’ve been leaving off of your lists!

Pantry Essentials

  1. All-Purpose Flour-Flour is essential to most baking recipes, and you can also use it to thicken sauces and gravy.
  2. Sugar-Whether you buy granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar, it’s bound to go a long way when baking. If you bake often, consider buying brown sugar as well.
  3. Baking Powder-Baking powder isn’t just good for baking – you can use it as a household cleaner once it expires!
  4. Oil-Vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and canola oil are great for both baking and frying.
  5. Salt-You can use salt for just about anything, so buy a large box when you go shopping.
  6. Pepper-Ground pepper is a common seasoning, so make sure you have enough for a few pepper shaker refills.
  7. Broth-Use a pre-made broth for soups, dressings, gravies, and other homemade recipes.
  8. Canned Soup-For days when you’re too tired to cook, it’s always good to have some canned soup in the pantry. 
  9. Baking Soda-Baking soda can be used in homemade toiletries, as a household cleaning agent, and to wash your produce thoroughly. This staple is versatile, so if you’re not already using it, you’re missing out!
  10. Vanilla Extract-Vanilla extract can be found in many dessert recipes. If you bake often, it’ll definitely get used.
  11. Allspice-Allspice is commonly used in Latin American, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean dishes. You can also use it for desserts, including gingerbread and pumpkin pie.
  12. Garlic Powder-Flavour your meat, roasted nuts, and seasonings with this must-have spice. With garlic powder in your pantry, you’ll be cooking dinner far more often!
  13. Oregano-Oregano has many uses, and you’ll find it in many Italian dishes. Sprinkle it on your pasta, meat, and in your sauces.
  14. Cumin-Use cumin to season meats, vegetables, chilli, and almost any Middle Eastern dish. It’s also a great addition to your homemade taco seasoning – you’ll want to use a lot of it!
  15. Cinnamon-Anyone who bakes can find a use for cinnamon! Even if you never touch your oven, you can sprinkle some onto muffins, cereal, and store-bought pies.
  16. Cocoa Powder-Add cocoa powder to your nuts, yogurt, cereal, coffee, or even your smoothies. Of course, you should also have cocoa powder in your pantry if you find yourself baking often.
  17. Tomato Paste-There are so many recipes online that call for tomato paste, including some for homemade sauces. Try this steak sauce recipe for your next barbecue!
  18. Rice-Whether you buy uncooked, instant, or flavoured rice, this versatile pantry staple will never fail you. There are so many ways to serve it!
  19. Cereal-When you’re not in the mood to make breakfast, cereal is the way to go. Great as a snack instead of chips too!
  20. Pasta-It’s never a bad idea to stock up on pasta. Don’t be afraid to buy more than one shape!
  21. Macaroni and Cheese-Boxed mac and cheese is easy to make, and it can be used as either a meal or a side.
  22. Cake or Brownie Mix-Grocery stores get crowded right before major holidays. Be prepared by buying baking mixes ahead of time so you don’t have to show up to parties empty-handed.
  23. Food Colouring-Make your baked goods more exciting with a few drops of food colouring.
  24. Legumes-Beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans come in handy when you’re cooking healthy meals.
  25. Pre-Packaged Snacks-Keep some pre-packaged snacks in your pantry to give you some grab-and-go options. 
  26. Fruits-Whether you eat them whole or use them in your recipes, you should always have something in your fruit bowl.

Refrigerator Essentials

  1. Butter or Margarine-Many recipes call for butter, but you can also use it to grease frying pans and baking tins.
  2. Vegetables-Eat some veggies as a snack or use them in your favourite healthy recipes. It’s always a good idea to keep a variety of greens in your fridge!
  3. Milk-When you buy milk, try to choose from the back of the grocery store’s refrigerator. These containers are likely to have a later expiration date than those closer to the front.
  4. Eggs-Buy more eggs than you expect to use before your next grocery run. You’ll likely wind up saving money!
  5. Sour Cream-Use sour cream as a base for dips, as an ingredient in some baked goods, and as a topping for Mexican dishes.
  6. Cream Cheese-Spread some cream cheese on your bagels or use it to create a vegetable dip.
  7. Cottage Cheese-If you’ve never baked with cottage cheese before, you’re missing out! It also works well in many appetizers and homemade breakfasts.
  8. Yogurt-Yogurt makes a great snack, but can also be used as a homemade breakfast or dessert ingredient.
  9. Minced Garlic-Use minced garlic in homemade soups, dips, and a wide variety of other recipes. It also has a long refrigerator shelf life!
  10. Ketchup-Ketchup is a classic condiment, so it’s always good to have in your home. 
  11. Mustard-Mustard may be even more versatile than ketchup. Both yellow and Dijon mustard are refrigerator must-haves, especially if you make sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs often.
  12. Salad Dressing-Buy one or two of your favourite salad dressings. Oftentimes, they can be used for more than just salad!
  13. Cheese-A block of cheese can be sliced or shredded, making it more cost-effective than buying pre-sliced and pre-shredded cheese separately.
  14. Fruit Juices-Orange, apple, and grape juices are delicious and are usually filled with nutrients.
  15. Half and Half-If you use half and half in your coffee, buy some every time you go to the grocery store.
  16. Pancake Syrup-Whether you like real maple syrup or less expensive options, you should always have a bottle of it. Drizzle it on waffles, pancakes, or even sausages.
  17. Sauces-Keep your fridge stocked with multiple sauces, like vodka, alfredo, and pesto.

Freezer Essentials

  1. Frozen Meat-Frozen meat lasts longer than refrigerated meat. Just be sure to thaw it before cooking!
  2. Frozen Vegetables-Keep a bag of frozen peas, corn, or a medley in your freezer.
  3. Frozen Berries-Use frozen berries in smoothies and desserts – they’re less expensive than the fresh ones, but they still taste great.
  4. Ice Cream-You never know when you’ll be craving some ice cream! Eat it on its own or place a scoop on your waffles, brownies, or pie.
  5. Ice-Keep some ice in your freezer to make smoothies, ice packs, and cold treats.
  6. Bread-Bread lasts longer when you store it in the freezer!
  7. TV Dinners-On lazy days, pop a TV dinner in the microwave to have a ready-to-eat meal in minutes.

Even if you don’t buy all of these kitchen essentials on one food run, these are great items to keep in stock. You never know when you may need something that you don’t normally use, so it’s time to make use of that empty space in your pantry, freezer, and fridge. Soon enough, you’ll be planning meals with more confidence that you have everything you need!

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