Stocking Your Pantry

The first grocery shop of the school year is a doozie-  making a plan ahead of time can help you take advantage of deals, ensure you have all the staples and avoid each roommate buying their own 10lb bag of rice. Check out this list below for some pantry essentials.

  • Long-grain white rice, one or two other grains (such as quinoa or farro)
  • dry pasta
  • rice/ramen/udon noodles
  • plain bread crumbs/panko
  • bread
  • wraps/pita/naan
  • breakfast cereals, oatmeal
Oils and Vinegars
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • neutral cooking oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
  • whatever vinegar you must often use- rice, balsamic, white, red wine, etc.
Cans and jars
  • Canned tuna
  • Tomatoes in all forms (diced, paste, sauce)
  • Soups and stocks
  • Canned Beans (white beans, black beans and-or chickpeas)
Spices and dried herbs
  • Kosher salt
  • red-pepper flakes
  • ground cayenne
  • curry powder
  • bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • sweet paprika
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground cumin
  • garlic powder
  • granulated garlic
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • ground coriander

If you are a somewhat experienced cook you'll know what spices you often use but this is a good starting point for beginners. Opting for packages over jars also saves money.

Condiments and sauces
  • Salad dressing
  • Mustard
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa
  • Soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Rolled oats
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Chocolate: chips, baking, etc.
  • Raisins or another dried fruit
  • Cocoa powder

If you are not a baker you can skip this section but never underestimate the power of stress baking. 

  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sour cream

If you follow a lactose-free or adhere to a vegan diet, look for affordable substitutes that contain protein.

  • Frozen fruits and veggies
  • Frozen proteins
  • Frozen meals (e.g. lasagna, pizzas, samosas) These are never as good as the real deal but can do in a pinch
  • Ice cream/sorbet/gelato- this is an essential

Opting for frozen instead of fresh is often more affordable and lasts way longer, just be mindful of freezer space, especially if you are sharing with roommates.

The rest
  • Nuts and nut butters: Walnuts, almonds, roasted peanuts, peanut butter (smooth and crunchy). 
  • Sweeteners: Honey, maple syrup, granulated sugar.
  • Preserves and pickles: Fruit jams and preserves, anchovies.



This list is by no means exhaustive- you know your own likes and dietary restrictions- but it is a good place to start. You'll also need to consider your fresh produce and proteins and snacks. 

If you are new to the city, we have grocery maps!

For more information about eating healthy- visit the Health Eating page of our site!

jars of dried cook in a pantry