Do you have a pantry? Even if it’s not a separate room like a traditional pantry, you’ll most certainly have an area in your kitchen to store dry goods. It may be a shelf, a cupboard, or even an old Hoosier Cabinet: America’s first commercially produced kitchen pantry storage unit. But have you ever thought about what should be on your pantry shopping list? What should and shouldn’t you store in your pantry?
The word “pantry” comes from the French word for bread (“pain”). Therefore, it’s no surprise that in Medieval times this is where the household’s bread and food were kept. The exception was that meat was stored separately in a larder, and alcohol in a buttery.
Today, we still have pantry spaces to store a variety of kitchen goods. You might not call this space a pantry, but it still functions as one. But with the advent of the refrigerator, we’re putting more and more into these coolboxes that we don’t have to, or shouldn’t.
We’ll answer a few questions you might have about pantries, and then provide you with a list to help you maintain a stocked pantry or pantry space. However, you can skip straight to our printable premade grocery list if you wish.
What should be kept in your pantry?
Canned goods are especially good to have in your pantry and on your pantry shopping list, especially as food in cans can be just as healthy as fruit varieties. But what other types of food can be stored here?
The simple answer is:
- Anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated immediately
- Dry food
- Unripe fruit and vegetables
- Unopened jars, cans, and cartons
These are general rules without many exceptions. This means that there are more items than you think that can be stored in the pantry. In some cases, the pantry is actually the best place for them.
What shouldn’t I keep in the pantry?
Basically, everything that’s the opposite of the list above:
- Ripe fruit and vegetables
- Opened jars, cans, and cartons
The biggest thing to remember is that jars, cans, and cartons shouldn’t be opened when stored in a pantry. For example, leftover canned beans should be emptied into a container and then kept in the fridge, not the pantry.
There are some exceptions. For example, some tomato sauces, although in jars or cartons, may need to be put in the fridge immediately. This is because of the lack of additives in them meaning they may spoil quicker than more processed varieties. Likewise, whilst salted butter can be kept nice and soft in a pantry, unsalted butter should be kept in the fridge. This is because salt acts as a preservative, meaning unsalted butter will go rancid quicker in a pantry.
If you’re unsure about putting something in your pantry, read the label on the packaging. If it says “store in a cool, dry place” then in the pantry it goes.
I don’t have a separate pantry. What type of space can I use?
The space only needs to meet 3 requirements:
- Out of direct sunlight
Cupboards are ideal pantry spaces. However, if you don’t have enough cupboard space, a shelf in a shady area of your kitchen.
Your Pantry Shopping List
Below you’ll find our free printable list to help you have a well-stocked pantry. Feel free to add to it and take things off that you don’t buy. It’s by no means an exhaustive list! Furthermore, don’t forget to check out our “How to Store…” section for more information about optimally storing some food. Some things in this section are perfect for pantries, such as onions.
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Pantry Staples Grocery List
Dried Herbs & Spices
Dried chili flakes
Jars, Cartons, & Condiments*
* store in fridge once opened
** store in fridge once ripe
Oil & Fat
Red kidney beans
Fruit, Vegetables, & Produce
What are we missing from the pantry shopping list? What’s the most surprising thing you didn’t know can be stored in your pantry? Did you already know the origins of the word “pantry”? Let us know in the comments.