Stocking Your Pantry

  • Pin It
  • print
  • email to a friend

Stocking Your Pantry

By Kendra Adachi

If you have yet to make friends with your kitchen, it’s time to get acquainted. Whether you are a new homeowner, a new wife, a new mom, or simply new to your kitchen, you can easily become a pro at making dinner with just a little practice, some planning ahead, and the highly necessary ability to laugh at yourself when your chicken looks like a hockey puck. Roll with it, and you’ll enjoy the process so much more.

The biggest issue most everyone faces in preparing dinner is not having a plan. If it’s 5:15pm and you have no idea what you and your family are having for dinner, chances are you’ll end up in the drive-thru or eating cereal… again. Honey Nut Cheerios made quite a dent in our grocery budget as newlyweds for the first few months. But as I learned what foods go together and what to always have around, cooking dinner actually became fun. Don’t you want that to be true of you? I promise it can be. If you have your kitchen stocked with a few basics and get some delicious and simple recipes under your belt (consider me your Simple Recipe Fairy), dinner is well within your reach any night of the week.

Below is a list of what to always have in your kitchen. Keep these things around all the time, and you’ve eliminated half of your dinner stress. I’ll share with you recipes that come from this last of staples, along with one or two ingredients to grab at the store on your way home from work or dance class. Fresh herbs, produce, and meat don’t always store well for a long time, so these are items you’ll want to buy around the day you cook them.  I want you to enjoy making friends with your kitchen and love learning about food that is simple, easy to pronounce, and most importantly really tasty.

Pantry Basics
Oil – both extra virgin olive oil and a mild oil like canola or vegetable
Pasta – white and whole wheat in a variety of shapes
Rice – white, brown, and wild
Couscous – a tiny grain that takes five minutes to cook
Canned beans – black, kidney, garbanzo, and cannellini
Canned tomatoes – diced, crushed
Tomato paste
Soy sauce
Balsamic vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Flour – white and whole wheat
Bread crumbs – plain and Italian
Taco shells
Canned tuna
Chicken and vegetable stock in cans or boxes
Jarred tomato sauce
Tortilla chips
Kosher salt and black pepper
Dried herbs – rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano
Dried spices – cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flake

Refrigerator Basics
Cream cheese
Plain yogurt (plain does not mean vanilla)
Sour cream
Dijon mustard
Cheese – cheddar, mozzarella, feta
Flour tortillas

Freezer Basics
Nuts – almonds, walnuts
Puff pastry
Italian sausage

To get you started, this is a ridiculously fast black bean dip that can be used in a number of ways. It’s great as a snack with veggie sticks. I love to make a quesadilla with shredded cheddar cheese and a few dollops of this dip. Having folks over to watch football this fall? Throw this on the table with some tortilla chips, and watch your friends gobble it up. The best part? It takes two minutes, it’s good for you, it’s inexpensive, and it’s really tasty. I guess that’s a few best parts, but you get the idea.

Black Bean Dip

Ingredients from your kitchen:
can of black beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons salsa
a spoonful of sour cream
kosher salt

Ingredients to purchase:
juice of one lime

Simple Recipes from a Well-Stocked Pantry:
Mushroom Bacon Quiche
Turkey Corn Chowder
Spicy Penne with Cauliflower

Kendra Adachi simply loves food and anything related to it. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their brand new baby boy, taking every opportunity to feed friends and family. Kendra is a cooking instructor, food consultant, and food blogger at

Read More From Cooking Basics.

Read More From Kitchen Basics.

Read More From Kitchen Basics.

You May Also Like These Articles:

You May Also Like These Recipes:

Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


Wow! This is a surprise. I am so happy to find, that you have a net work of your own. Hurrah!! Good for you Miss Paula Dean. I sure miss you on the food network. Just keep on doing the things, that you are wonderful at. "Praise the Lord," I am so happy, that I can still come to my pc, and still click you on , for whichever recipe I want. And to think, now you have your own web site. Yeah!! God Bless you, and have yourself a wonderful day.

By Myrna Bates on February 01, 2014


Love all your recipes. Always find something on your ebsite or magazine that my family will enjoy. Love you

By Hulene Pierce on January 23, 2014


Thanks Paula for the tips I for one like to cook but always want to be healthy this year I have my first 2 grand babies and can't wait to instill healthy ideas into there lives and teach them to cook healthy!

By Anonymous on January 16, 2014


Thanks Paula for all your creativity, both in the kitchen and around the home. It encourages me to try to do the same. It certainly encourages me to get in the kitchen to try out some of your yummy recipes. smile

By DelTurner on December 29, 2013


Thanks so much Paula for all the information on your site. I am 69 and never enjoyed cooking and now, thanks to your great info on almost every topic, I kinda' enjoy being in the kitchen. Keep up the Great site and the BEST TO YOU Always.

By atticmom on January 16, 2013


THANK YOU Paula!!! I have read almost everything on your site...I am 31 and hated cooking because I didn't understand the I love it and have more and more people wanting to come over and eat my delicious're the best!!!

By Anonymous on May 21, 2012


Paula, You are my favorite show on the cooking channel. I have gotten a few pieces the last two Christmas's from your collection. I have enjoyed them soooo much!!!!! I have some bakeware and the paper towel holder with the rooster that I love. My husband is a sweet man like your husband. He seems like a real nice guy.... a real teddy bear. Keep up the good work you are a really cool lady. I just made your apple pie recipe and it is the best pie I have ever made. Love you!!! I want to see if next Christmas or my birthday if he will get me your cookbook..............

By kathryn powers on January 03, 2012


I'm into day 4 of being retired after over 24 years of working and delegating dinner duties to others in the household. Needless to say we "fast-fooded" more than I liked. It filled you up but did nothing for the warm feeling you get from a home-cooked meal. I've always been a good cook but being off the "front line" of the kitchen for so many years the "how to set up your kitchen" article in today's e-mail was just the thing to get me started on my inventory to regaining the joy of cooking. Thank you Miss Paula and Happy New Year. From My Kitchen to Yours! Scoot

By Scoot on January 03, 2012


I am trying to be a good cook. I am not brand new to the kitchen.. but I am not what you would say to be 'a good cook' I can make a few simple dishes, but am very intimidated by the grocery store and knowing what to buy. What brands do you suggest? Are store brands ok? Is it ok to buy and freeze fresh herbs? Also.. what pans, pots and baking dishes are essential to a woman's kitchen? I find myself not having the right tools. Any help is appreciated. Mindy

By Mindysue on May 19, 2011


Great list. I like quick and easy too and it is easy if your have "staples" on your list here. My "go to" for quick and easy for the family , tacos ! Everyone loves them, hits all the nutrition groups and on the table in less than 20 minutes. I lay out all the toppings on wax paper on the counter and everyone tops their own tacos with desired toppings. My toppings include, lettuce ( can used bagged, just rough chop it ) tomatoes, onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa. Serve with canned refried beans. Loved the new idea of pre-cooking hamberger meat and freezing in freezer bags. Will make my tacos even faster. Hamburger meat, top with Ragu or some other spaghetti sauce, and a salad , another quick dinner.

By Linda on January 19, 2011


Thanks for being so nice and fun to watch. Wish I could meet you in person some day.

By Lael Gum on January 18, 2011


Thanks for the suggestions and the refresher course. I have 95% of your list. And like you, I am a seasoned cook.(I say that in a nice way.) If I may throw in a suggestion to help anyone that doesn't have much time to prepare a meal--- ground beef, or bulk sausage, or chicken can be cooked and drained and stored in freezer baggies or boxes for future uses. Already cooked and ready to use. Just label---product, date and amount. Love your shows, got both magazine subscriptions, you're on my facebook. and all your recipe websites saved on /in my favorits. Love that bubblie personality of yours.

By Grace Spinnie on January 18, 2011


Thanks for all you do. Also thanks for bringing your love of cooking to us. Jack

By Jack Hutson on January 18, 2011


Wow Paula, I had all but two things in my pantry and all fridge items! I had a wonderful Mom who loved the kitchen and taught me all her recipes (none written down) and taught me some shortcuts. I love this page so keep up the helpful info for us!

By Esther Ceniceros on January 18, 2011


Paula - Just want to thank you for sharing your excellence with all of us. Not just your cooking but your beautiful, warm heart! If it weren't for all the miles between us, I think we could be friends - I'd love to share a cup of coffee and some life with you! I used to be a good cook, but 35 years of working full-time and my kitchen is no longer my friend - the sad part is,is that given the opportunity, I really do love to cook but time (or my lack of planning my time well (??)) has become my enemy. I'm going to pretend I don't know anything and am going to use your pantry basics and see if I can't start over - hey, its a New Year!!! I just want to add, that I had the opportunity to visit your lovely state of Georgia last year on business. I was determined to see something more than the 4 walls of the conference room so rented a car and took myself on a little scenic tour driving the Antebellum trail. Southern Hospitality is for real!!! From the kids on the street to the shop owners I met . . . what an absolute joy! Thank you again

By Donna Zimmermann on January 18, 2011


hello its a great page ¡¡cogratulations from venezuela ¡¡¡

By hernan rodriguez on January 18, 2011


There was a receipe for pimento cheese posted sometime during the holidays that was so simple, but soooo good. You used the whipped cream cheese, 4 oz. cheese and I can not remember the rest. Do you have that somewhere you could e-mail it to me??? Love all of your receipes.

By Mary Wood on January 18, 2011


By carolyn tinder on January 18, 2011


Hi Paula, well I am the one that I really wished I could cook but everytime I get in the kitchen its a nightmare....but I do try. Love your recipes and try to go by the letter when making them and I do ok but Im sure nothing like yours. Thanks for this Im going shopping, maybe I can get something going in the kitchen. Love your Stuff!! Cherrie

By Cherrie Dusendang on January 18, 2011


Paula you are the best counrty girl ever you are so funny to watch. I recently got married in October of 2010 and my husband has high blood pressure so im very conserned on what we eat,im a health freak,but he likes to junck food and mashed potatoes with gravy so i try to fix stuff around the mashed potatoes that are healthy but it's hard.Please help. Sincerly Mrs.Jody Tuttle

By Jody Tuttle on January 18, 2011

My Recipe Box |

Paula's Upcoming Schedule

  • September 20: Booksigning in Waco, TX

    Join Paula at DuBois Furniture in Waco, TX for a book signing and meet and greet from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.

  • September 24: Paula Deen Live! in Charlotte

    Come see Paula’s live show at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC and get a heaping helping of Paula’s recipes, and some good old-fashioned fun and laughter!
    Tickets available from Blumenthal Performing Arts Center here!

    Starts at 5:30 PM. Light hors d’oeuvres and beer & wine will be served, including a meet and greet with Paula Deen! 

    Sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms.

  • October 24: Deen Family Book Signing

    Join the Deen Family for a Book Signing at The Lady & Sons from 10 am to 12 pm.
    The event is free; 350 wristbands to be distributed starting at 9 am.

  • View Paula's Full Schedule