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How to Stock a Small Pantry

Shows a well-stocked pantry shelf

Whether you’re stocking a new pantry, revamping your old pantry, or just taking stock of what you have, a thorough list of pantry necessities is great to have on hand.

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I recently moved into my own apartment and started my pantry from scratch. It’s been a few months now and I can conclude that I’ve polished the list quite nicely.

Truth be told, I don’t actually have a pantry in my kitchen. I try to keep my pantry list small because it all goes in one awkwardly sized corner shelf. It’s that classic pentagon corner shelf that has a disproportionality small opening to reach all the space inside!

Variety is the spice of life! So it’s important to me to keep a good variety, but not too much of a variety that something gets forgotten in the back of my cupboard. This list perfectly balances a good amount of variety while limiting excess.

How is this different from a grocery list?

The difference between a pantry list and a grocery list is that former is comprised of relatively long-term items while the later is full of items that need to be replenished regularly. Pantries have items with longer shelf lives (months to years) while your grocery items keep fresh for just a few weeks.

It’s important to keep your pantry and fridge well stocked. Often your fridge provides nutrients while your pantry provides the substance and flavor. Say for example that you are making a mouth-watering creamy butternut squash pasta dish for dinner (stay tuned, my amazing recipe is coming soon!). The grocery items would include the squash, the heavy cream, sausage, and spinach. These you have to get fresh and within the week your are cooking the dish. The other items, the pantry items, you should already have on hand! The pasta, salt, pepper, and the other couple spices are items you always keep stocked up.

And if you’re looking for a good grocery list, check out what I use here! Don’t worry, my weekly grocery list is nowhere near as extensive as my pantry list.


Your pantry is the perfect place to focus on sustainability!

There are no-packaging stores all across the country, and even all over the world! If you are able to find one near you, this is a great option. Take clean bins, jars, or bags into these stores to stock up on everything from pasta to tea! If looking for a new store is too much of a stretch, look for bulk areas in your usual grocery store. My Smart and Final has a wall of containers with all sorts of dry goods. You just take a produce bag and pour or scoop in what you need. I love that they have chocolate covered peanut butter balls! And they actually have the best price for oats that I’ve seen, and that includes Costco!

Buying in bulk reduces packaging waste. Let’s help keep that waste out of the landfills and oceans (#TeamSeas). Buying rice, flour, and even olive oil in bulk is a great idea if you have room to store it. Buy you don’t need to buy every item in bulk. If I always bought my chocolate chips in bulk, you better believe I’d be snacking on them in bulk too!

Read this closely

This list is working perfectly for me. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect list for you. Before you start stocking your pantry, look through the list and cross off the items that you know you won’t use. Personally I love oats, but I know that they aren’t for everyone, so if that’s you, cross it off your list. Maybe you’re more a fan of couscous than quinoa, so just switch them out when you’re shopping. This is meant to be a starting point and you can customize it to fit your lifestyle!

The goal of a pantry stock is to have items you will use readily available whenever you need them. The goal is not to hide food away until it goes bad. Avoid food waste by really assessing what foods you will and won’t use.

It’s a great idea to start out by getting one or two items each time you go to the store. Although this may stock your pantry slower, it will be easier on your grocery bill and give you some extra time with each new ingredient. If you buy all these items at once, it can be easy for one or two to get pushed to the back and forgotten.

Perfect Pantry List

Jars and Cans

  • Peanut Butter
  • Honey
  • Chicken/Vegetable Broth
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Canned Garbanzo Beans
  • Canned Peas
  • Canned Coconut Milk
  • Canned Tomato Paste
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Tuna


  • Ranch Dressing
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Worchester Sauce
  • Hot Sauce


  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Coconut Oil


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Allspice

Grains & Legumes

  • White Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Traditional Oats
  • Pasta
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • White Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Black Beans
  • Pinto Beans

Baking & Sweets

  • White Sugar
  • Brown Sugar (or DIY it!)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda

Nuts and Seeds

  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flax Seed
  • Ground Flax Seed
  • Shredded Coconut

Specialty Items

  • Powdered Buttermilk
  • Molasses
  • Teas
  • Coffees
  • Chips
  • Granola Bars (or DIY them!)

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