Stocking the Kitchen

CATEGORIES: Informational Posts, Kate

Sara and I often get asked what we regularly keep in our kitchens and if we have favorite brands. I can’t speak 100% for Sara, but I know we see eye-to-eye on most things. Once your kitchen is well-stocked, grocery shopping is a breeze, not to mention the fact that you can throw dinner together in a flash if you need to!

I won’t lie, this list is long! Don’t feel like you have to pick everything up at once. And if you absolutely hate something, by all means, don’t buy it. But when you’re at the store, just grab a couple extra items every shopping trip and pretty soon, your kitchen will be completely stocked!
If there’s a brand that I’m very loyal to, I mentioned it in parentheses; otherwise, I either think all brands are relatively equal or I just haven’t found a brand that I love. Also, it’s not necessarily true that store brands are cheaper than the name brand equivalent; often, the name brand is either on sale or just plain cheaper than the store brand, so it’s something handy to keep in mind…

Meats (stored in freezer)
Chicken breasts
Chicken thighs
Ground beef (I get 7-10% fat)
Brisket (I buy a huge chunk on sale and cut it into smaller pieces)
Baby back Ribs (if I can find them on sale)
Beef roasts and/or steaks I find on sale
Pork sirloin roasts (they’re boneless; you can slice semi-frozen roasts for pork chops)
Italian sausage

Dairy/Lunch Meat
Cheddar or Colby Jack cheese
Mozzarella or Provolone cheese
Cream cheese
String cheese
Margarine (only Smart Balance)
Canadian bacon/ham
Fresh Parmesan
Canned Parmesan
Light sour cream

Carby Goodness
Bagels (I like the whole-wheat mini bagels and then I use flavored light cream cheese)
English muffins

Fruit: I like to keep about 2 kinds of fruit to last us through the week; I buy whatever’s seasonal and/or on sale.
Mangoes (when I find them on sale; they’re interchangeable with Mandarin oranges, super nutritious, and my kids love them!)
Grapes (seasonal)
Watermelon (seasonal)
Oranges (seasonal)
Yellow onions
1-2 red onion
1-2 green peppers
1-2 Roma tomatoes
1 head Romaine or red leaf lettuce
3-4 limes
1 bunch cilantro
2 heads garlic
1 bunch green onions
1-2 lemons
1 bag spinach
Fresh ginger (you can keep it in the freezer)

Light mayonnaise (Kate prefers Kraft)
Light Miracle Whip
Yellow mustard
Dijon mustard
Honey mustard
Ketchup (Heinz)
White vinegar
White wine vinegar
Rice vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Chocolate syrup (Hershey’s)
Caramel sauce (Hershey’s, in a squirty bottle like the chocolate sauce)
Soy sauce (Aloha Shoyu)
Worcestershire sauce
Liquid smoke
Hot sauce (like Cholula or Tabasco)
Sriracha chili sauce
A1 Sauce

Canned Goods
Sweetened condensed milk (NOT Walmart brand)
Evaporated milk
Coconut milk
Pineapple chunks, tidbits, and a small can of crushed pineapple
Black beans
Kidney beans
Diced tomatoes (Kate doesn’t like S&W, but Sara does)
Stewed tomatoes (ditto the S&W comment from above)
Tomato sauce (ditto again)
Tomato paste (ditto…yet again!)
Chicken broth
Beef broth
Sliced black olives
Diced green chilies
1 can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
Chunk white tuna in water

Pantry Goods
All-purpose flour
Cake flour
Powdered sugar
Brown sugar
Unsweetened cocoa
Chocolate chips (Not Walmart brand. Macey’s in Utah actually has awesome chocolate chips!)
Sugar sugar (C&H or Domino)
Honey honey (You are my candy girl…)
Olive oil
Canola oil
Sesame oil
Butter-flavored Crisco
Non-stick cooking spray
Table salt
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Karo syrup
Baking soda
Baking powder
Beef bouillon cubes
Chicken bouillon cubes
Onion soup mix
Pasta (whatever you like; I like linguine and a small pasta like spiral or small penne)
Yeast (Bread machine; store in freezer)
Bread crumbs (plain; add 1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning to 1 c. bread crumbs for Italian bread crumbs)
Peanut butter (Skippy or Jif)
Almond extract

Herbs and Spices
Smoked paprika
Chili powder
Red ground pepper (cayenne pepper)
Curry powder
Garlic powder
Garlic salt
Onion powder
Ground ginger
Cloves (ground and whole)
Nutmeg (whole; use your microplane to grate it)
Sesame seeds
Bay leaves
Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s)
Crushed red pepper
Dry mustard
Poppy seeds
Ground sage
Dill weed
Italian seasoning

So what did I forget? What do you NEED in your kitchen that isn’t on my list?


  1. Chipotle chili powder (a MUST), coriander (for all things mexican), and cardamom. Oh, plus the other spices for Indian cooking that I use – garam masala and turmeric.

  2. AWesomeness, Kate! Thanks soo much. Btw, would you say ground turkey and turkey bacon are interchangeable with ground beef and reg. bacon?

  3. Heidi, I looked for chipotle chili powder today and couldn’t find any! Boo! I’ll have to pick some up in Utah…

    I still need to call you, BTW. Today. Soon. I’ll do the dishes and call you.

  4. Oh, and Janelle, yeah, you can totally use turkey bacon and ground turkey instead of regular bacon and ground beef! 🙂 If you’re buying ground turkey for the health benefits, be careful–some ground turkey is actually fattier than lean ground beef.

  5. So Kate, what is the difference between all purose and cake flour? Should I have both on hand or are they pretty much the same thing???

  6. I second the need for cardamom as it’s great in a lot of things, including in coffee for those who are not LDS. I also like to keep a jar of salsa for when I have Mexican food.

  7. I love Tapatio hot sauce so I use that instead of Cholula or Tabasco. Plus I like having some Chinese sauces around like Hoisin and Chili Garlic Sauce. And for me, steel cut oats are a must.

  8. So I have a question – how long are spices good for? I know I have some in my spice rack that are 8 years old!!! And is storing them in a drawer okay? I think it may be time for me to throw some spices out and just buy small bottles of new ones.
    We just moved to MT, and in the move we lost most of the stocked pantry – I’m slowly getting back.

  9. I love Nutella and also pretzels are a must. Also I try to keep Greek seasoning around so I whip out some gyros in case what are out of everything else.

  10. Lisa–Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour and it’s lighter aand fluffier. It makes really soft, lightweight cakes. If you don’t have any cake flour on hand, you can sift together 3/4 c. all-purpose flour and 2 Tbsp. cornstarch.

    Adrienne and Heidi–Yum for the cardamom–I need to add that to the list! I have a whole slew of spices that aren’t on the list, but they’re not anything I use on a super regular basis.

    Tami–I believe spices are good for about a year. A good rule of thumb is to sprinkle some into your hand; if it still smells like the spice, then it’s still good. I buy mine (usually) in bulk from Penzeys spices (, where you can also buy glass jars for storing them. I keep the jars out where I can use them and then keep the excess in the freezer where spices are pretty much good indefinitely.

    Leah–Oooooh, Nutella!! One of the naughtiest things I’ve ever tried was a recipe for puff pastry cut into smaller pieces, spread with Nutella and raspberry jam, and then folded, sealed, and baked. I can taste it now! And yeah, Nutella goes onto the list!

  11. im really appreciating this list… im hoping to have my own place soon (hopefully with a husband to go along with it 😉 ) this will for sure get me off on the right foot as far as keeping a well stocked fridge! Thanks!

  12. I love this list. I don’t know if I missed it, but my other “must-haves” are powdered buttermilk that I keep in the fridge and works great for buttermilk syrup (mmm, German pancakes) and that new crystallized lemon/lime/orange stuff. Those things have saved me in a pinch.

  13. Uh-oh, I had no idea spices were only good for a year?! Whoops! I got mine when I got married so … yeah, bad news. I guess I need to clean it out and start over. I will definitely start storing in the freezer.

  14. I can’t LIVE without roasted red peppers (in a jar), marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

  15. Just wondering why not S&W tomato products? I bought some S&W diced tomatoes and when I finally went to use them most of the cans were bulging 🙁 So now I never by S&W either. I couldn't tell the were bulging because the cans were packaged in a cardboard box from a club store…same thing happened to my sister.

  16. Laura, that's REALLY interesting! The only time I've had S&W was from Costco and I just could not STAND the taste–I was paying more for the brand name, but my favorite tomato products EVER were Western Family. S&W just tasted…not fresh? I don't even know how to describe it. I couldn't stand ANY of them!

  17. Kate, I've always meant to ask you why you were anti S&W. I wonder if you just got a bad batch or something? That's so weird, because S & W is usually my favorite! Well, it's my favorite when it's on sale cheaper than the store brand, lol.

  18. Do you have any tips for newlywed college students stocking up a kitchen? I don't think it's feasible for me to try to get this entire list since there's only the 2 of us and I don't think my little apartment kitchen could hold it all anyway! 🙂 But I do want to try to build up what I have because I feel like I'm out of everything every time I go shopping! Thanks!

    P.S. I LOVE your blog and I'm really excited for the cookbook to come out!!!

  19. Hi, Chantelle! You know, you can always scale back and really just focus on stuff you KNOW you use on a regular basis. Like…it's a good idea to have SOME beans on hand, but you don't need to have Kidney, Black, and Garbanzo all at the same time, you know? If you hardly ever eat chicken thighs, only buy them if you're using them for a specific recipe. Same thing with produce. Figure out a few fall-back, cheap recipes and then always have those ingredients on hand in a pinch, you know? For us, as long as we have a little ground beef, tomato sauce, canned diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, and rice, I can usually figure SOMETHING out for dinner, haha! 🙂

    Hope that helps!

  20. This is just what I needed! I’m a newlywed and still trying to figure this cooking thing out 🙂 So my only question… shelf-life? How long can I keep all these ingredients in my cupboards/fridge? Thanks!!

    1. Totally depends on the ingredient Katie! Let us know if you have a question about something specific, but in general canned goods and spices last quite a long time 🙂

  21. Make sure when you buy Honey, you buy real honey! There are some on the shelves that are high fructose corn syrup concoction–yuck!

  22. A must have in my kitchen: McCormick Coconut Extract for Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. It MUST be McCormick. The generic brand doesn’t cut the mustard!

  23. Kitchen Bouquet, Biscoff, canned mushrooms(for when I’m out of fresh), Cool Whip, cinnamon, salsa, frozen peas and corn, potatoes, frozen-uncooked shrimp, imitation crab meat-refrigerated. These are off the top of my head, We love seafood dishes, and anything potato!

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