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The Ingredients You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

Ask Kary: What Ingredients Should I Have in My Kitchen?

To make your cooking experience fun and stress-free, stock up on kitchen staples!

Having these basics on hand make it easy to whip up last-minute weekday meals.  With the items on this list, you can make potato pancakes, a simple tomato sauce, tuna melts, lentil soup, brownies, and egg salad – just to name a few.

Plus, if you have a stocked pantry you’ll be motivated to try new recipes!  Stocking your kitchen with essentials will also save you time at the grocery store because all that will be left to grab each week are fresh ingredients.

The Ingredients You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen

The Ingredients You Should Have in Your Kitchen:


  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Vegetable Oil, Peanut Oil, or Canola Oil


  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • White or Red Wine Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Seasoned Rice Vinegar


  • Ketchup
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Maple Syrup
  • Mustards
  • Honey
  • Hot Sauce
  • Worcestershire
  • Mayonnaise
  • Peanut Butter

Asian Cuisine:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Oyster Sauce
  • Toasted Sesame oil
  • Curry Paste – Thai or Indian
  • Coconut Milk

Mediterranean Basics:

  • Anchovies in oil
  • Black or Green Olives
  • Capers (packed in brine)

Pasta, Grains, and Noodles:

  • Dried pasta
  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Bread

Canned Goods:

  • Chickpeas
  • Black Beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney Beans
  • Tuna or Salmon (packed in water or oil)
  • Tomatoes – Diced, Whole, and Crushed
  • Low-Sodium Chicken Stock (boxed, canned, or powdered)

Baking Essentials:

  • White Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Nuts

Fridge Basics:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parmesan Cheese (real)
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Butter
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Cheese

Long-Keeping Fruits and Veggies:

  • Apples
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Ginger

Dried Herbs and Spices:

  • Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Bay Leaves
  • Garlic Powder
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Rosemary
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Nutmeg seed
  • Coriander
  • Cinnamon Sticks


  1. Hey Nina. The grill pan was from AllClad, and the lid was something we made. You can do the same by using a roasting pan cover over a standard grill pan.

  2. Kary,
    I LOVE your show when I can catch it! I was wondering which stovetop double burner grill pan with lid you use? I would like to get one but am not sure which one and where.

    Thank you,
    Nina Moltzen

  3. I am going to have to tell my husband to quit complaining about my “well stocked” pantry!!!!!! I have 95% of the list, (not all the veggies since I am the only that eats them and they go bad too soon)

  4. I think you’ve hit on all the basics and one or two nice extras.