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Expert Shopper Kitchen

Stock up your pantry with these essential items

Expertly reviewed by Andrea Boudewijn

You’ll always be prepared to make your favorite recipes when you have these must-haves on hand

Do you often open your pantry door and find the shelves are lacking the items you need? You can eliminate making an unwanted trip to the store when you keep your pantry stocked with key products. We consulted with BestReviews cooking and baking expert Andrea Boudewijn to assist you in stocking your pantry with the essentials you’ll reach for frequently when preparing meals, snacks and more. 

In this article: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, Frantoia Barbera Extra Virgin Olive Oil and KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer.

Essentials you need in your pantry, according to the BestReviews cooking and baking expert

It’s not difficult to keep your pantry well-stocked with items that you’ll use time and again. To get started, think of the items you use often, whether at the dinner table or when preparing meals. 

“Pantry basics, or what I like to call 'pioneer basics,' like salt, sugar, flour, some kind of shelf-stable fat, and spices are the foundation of any good pantry,” Boudewijn said. “Stock up on these kinds of goodies so you don't have to stop cooking to run to the market.”

In addition to the staples the BestReviews expert recommends, that kitchen pantry is also ideal for keeping dried foods stored for quick meals, healthy snacks or to complete a recipe. 

Cereal, dried fruit, nuts, rice and grains are easy to store in a pantry. Jarred or canned foods such as jams, sauces, dressings and more can also be kept on shelves until ready for use. Boudewijn said that pasta and beans are also useful dried goods to keep in stock. 

Expert tips from Boudewijn for stocking your pantry

  • Opt for variety: “I keep several kinds of flour in my pantry: all-purpose, cake flour, whole wheat, and bread flour, just to name a few.”
  • Think about how you like to cook: “Keep a variety of your favorite staples on hand.”
  • Think about sugar: “Superfine, regular granulated and sanding sugar are helpful in different situations.” 
  • Try different types of salt: “I also keep about four kinds of salt for different purposes, such as kosher salt for everyday cooking. I use Maldon large-flake sea salt for finishing off a steak or a side of spinach. And when I'm feeling fancy, I use truffle salt for my scrambled eggs.”

Best pantry essentials recommended by Boudewijn

Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt

Boudewijn said that Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt is a quality product that she uses in her own business. “This Kosher salt is a standard in most restaurants and has a place of honor in my bakery. It's fast-dissolving and delicious.”

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C & H Baker’s Sugar Ultrafine Pure Cane Sugar

You probably have standard sugar in your pantry, but Boudewijn said that having sugar with an extra fine texture is also a good idea. “This superfine or ultrafine sugar is ground a few more times than typical granulated sugar, so it dissolves faster in everything from cakes to coffee.”

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Frantoia Barbera Extra Virgin Olive Oil

“Olive oil is a healthy cooking staple that does well in almost any dish,” said Boudewijn of this popular and versatile oil. She said Frantoia Barbera Olive Oil is ideal for cooked and raw dishes, including pasta, scrambled eggs and salad dressings.

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Simply Organic Herbs, Spices and Seasonings Assorted Variety Sampler Set

Boudewijn said that every pantry should have a set of spices. She likes that this set includes a nice variety of 24 basic organic spices, plus it’s aesthetically appealing.

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KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

When it comes to putting all of those edible pantry items to use, you can’t go wrong with a stand mixer that’s preferred by novice and pro chefs. “It's not food, but a good KitchenAid stand mixer is essential to most all kitchen operations,” Boudewijn said, emphasizing its multifunctionality. “The assorted attachments available make it a versatile pasta machine, ice cream maker and sausage maker too.”

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Other BestReviews pantry picks to consider

When you combine the essential items Boudewijn recommends along with our favorites, your pantry will be well-stocked for all of your meal-prep needs. 

KitchenAid Pasta Roller Attachment Set

If you take BestReviews cooking expert’s advice and invest in a KitchenAid stand mixer, this pasta roller set is the perfect companion. It attaches easily to the mixer and turns it into a pasta maker. The components are made of stainless steel that’s made to last and is easy to clean. 

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Domino Pure Granulated Cane Sugar

When it comes to adding sugar to your pantry, Domino brand is a good choice. Traditional granulated sugar by this top brand is versatile to use in any recipe that calls for sugar. 

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Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour

If you are pursuing a gluten-free diet, this flour is perfect for keeping in your pantry. It’s certified gluten-free and is made in a facility that doesn’t produce many ingredients that aggravate various food allergies, including soy, wheat, fish, dairy, eggs, mustard, sesame, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts.  

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Mantova Organic Flavored Balsamic Vinegar Variety Pack

From sauces to dressing and more, this collection of balsamic vinegars will take the flavors of some of your favorite foods to the next level. They are organic and include fig, pomegranate, pear and raspberry flavors. 

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Starbucks Breakfast Blend Ground Coffee

No pantry is complete without coffee. Made by a popular brand, this breakfast blend is great for that first morning brew of coffee or for any time you want a delicious cup of joe. 

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Worth checking out 

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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