10 Ingredients to Always Have on Hand

10 ingredients to always have on hand

Back in the day, when I was teaching myself how to cook at home, I used to plan a trip to the grocery store like I was an NFL offensive coordinator — there were manic notes and strategies and maps of aisles and maybe even headsets, I can’t remember. But now? I’ve been cooking for my family of four for so long, I know exactly what I need to have on hand to eat well all day, all week, all year long. Here’s the rundown…

1. Canned Chickpeas
Sure, you can buy dried chickpeas, the kind you have to soak overnight, but then they won’t be available for you in a pinch, which is a pretty accurate summation of my relationship with the humble garbanzo bean. When I’m stuck for dinner, I know I can take two cans from my stash, then drain the beans, dry them, toss with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and roast on a baking sheet at 425°F until they are super crispy, and are extremely enticing when tossed into a salad with avocados, feta, and greens. Or I can braise them with onions, garlic, curry, diced tomatoes, coconut milk and serve over rice. Yesss.

2. Good Bread
(Any kind! A rustic Italian loaf, a French baguette, a basic Pullman, etc.) The first thing I do with my bread when I come home from the supermarket? Slice it into sandwich size pieces, stash in a zip-top bag, and freeze. If I don’t do this, there is a 100% chance I won’t need to use the loaf until its consistency is roughly the same as my countertop. When bread is frozen, you never have to worry about it getting stale, and it’s always just a toast away from being revived — whether you need it alongside your egg or under sautéed mushrooms and mashed peas for dinner, or my favorite way, warm with good butter.

3. Frozen French-Cut Green Beans
It might be nostalgia talking here, considering I grew up eating these on the regs, but a pile of green beans, sautéed with butter and salt is heaven for me, especially in the off-season when I can’t get my hands on fresh ones. Throw a seven-minute egg on top of them, along with a drizzle of Sriracha, and you’ve got a great lunch any day of the week.

4. Wonton Wrappers
Like tortillas and pasta, a wonton wrapper is the kind of starchy vehicle that helps stretch the odds and ends of various leftovers and vegetables. Unlike tortillas and pasta, though, it’s a little unexpected. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sautéed things like greens, chicken, tofu, squash, literally anything mysterious from the CSA box — with onion, garlic and ginger, then stuffed that whole mess into wontons, and fried or steamed them for dinner. To great applause! You can find wrappers in the freezer section of any Asian grocer or in the ethnic aisle of better supermarkets. They are super cheap.

5. Eggs
Here’s what you need to know about me and eggs. I have two daughters, neither of whom eat eggs, and yet we need to replenish our one-dozen-count container every single week. Do the math, factoring in my husband’s schedule which doesn’t involve breakfast or lunch at home. I eat eggs round-the-clock (poached, fried, seven-minuted, scrambled) and it’s the first thing I think of basing dinner on when I know the haters are out of the house. Think: frittatas, carbonara, or breakfast-for-dinner burritos: scrambled eggs, avocado, salsa, black beans, shredded cheddar, wrapped in tortillas and heated.

6. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
If you have kids who are of baking age, I’d like you to try an experiment. Place a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips on the counter, somewhere in your children’s lines of vision, and watch what happens. If your house is anything like mine, their reaction will be almost Pavlovian: Can we make cookies? Or even better, with older kids, I’m going to make cookies. Maybe it’s just that I’m a mother of teenagers, but any activity that gets my kids standing next to me in the kitchen, making something with their hands and steering clear of their screens, is an occasion for celebration. So, chocolate chips: Always. (Note: Boxed brownie mix has a similar effect.)

7. Avocados 
We go through these quickly in our house. Served halved and filled with ginger-miso dressing, it’s a great 30-second side dish to go along with your chicken dinner; chop it into salads to lend the leaf some sex appeal, or whirl into a salad dressing to give it a little green-goddess action. And have you heard of this thing, the avocado toast? My preferred method of preparation: Spread your piece of toast — grab one from the freezer! — with a shmear of coconut oil, then top with an avocado that’s been coarsely mashed with salt and pepper. (If your kid is like my kid and won’t eat her avocado toast without a cross-hatch pattern forked into it, well then, go ahead and cross-hatch.)

8. White Miso 
I always have a little tub of this staring at me bright-eyed from the refrigerator, loyally waiting for me to harness its umami superpowers. Think of it like soy sauce or Worcestershire. When you taste your sauce or soup or salad dressing and you’re like, hmmm something’s missing, whisk in a teaspoon of miso and see what you’ve got. Also: No one will complain if you mash it with butter, then add that whole thing to split roasted Japanese sweet potatoes, and sprinkled with chives.

9. Harissa
If you’re unfamiliar with harissa, it’s a hot chile pepper paste that comes in varying degrees of heat, and is another one of those shelf-stable condiments (ok, fine, you keep it in the fridge once opened) that lasts forever and serves to transform an everyday dish into something special. I mix a spoonful into a yogurt-based dressing (which would be excellent tossed with those crispy chickpeas above, btw), or stir it into melted butter, using the resulting glaze to “paint” a whole chicken before roasting.

10. Bourbon 
Because it’s the season of dark spirits! And because I’m human.

What ingredients do you always have on hand? What can’t you live without?

P.S. Three Trader Joe’s meal hacks and how to get your kids to talk at dinner.

(Photo by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Jane says...

    Passata in jars as base for a pasta sauce/curry/Chili or soup

    Puy lentils dried because they are quick to cook and can be used in mujadera

    Onions and carrots in fridge far beyond their best before because they last forever, seemingly. Onions can be caramelised when you think you have nothing to put on a pizza.

    Arborio and basmati rice for last minute risottos and pilafs

    Assorted tinned beans to throw in Chili, soup or pasta and chickpeas in jars for upgraded hommus

    Eggs and bread and milk for emergency PM French toast rolled in cinnamon and sugar

    Eggs- cooked in leftover pasta sauce or Chili as makeshift “shakshouka” (throw in greens too)

    Instant polenta to set in pan then cut up and bake as polenta chips (season with salt and paprika)

    Chickpea flour to make pancakes to serve along side anything gloopy or filled with tasty things and rolled

    Dates, cacao powder and nuts to put in blender and make bliss balls or raw brownies

    Maldon sea salt for everything

  2. Dee says...

    1. Greek virgin olive oil
    2. Onions
    3. Lemons
    4. Cheese (feta, plus a type of yellow hard cheese)
    5. Canned tomatoes
    6. Free range eggs
    7. Two types of seasonal fruit
    8. (At least) two types of salad veggies
    9. Pasta
    10. Smoked paprika powder
    11. Plain full fat Greek yogurt
    12. Salmon (I keep it in the freezer)

    • Dee says...

      (I FORGOT TO MENTION FILTER COFFEE!! My number one necessity;))

  3. maggie says...

    love this list and devoured all the comments! can we please make a series out of this post – different contributors listing their top 10 ingredients plus ideas for recipes with them!?

  4. Cynthia Latcham says...

    1. Great olive oil
    2. Parmasean Cheese
    3. Red Onions
    4. Fresh Basil and Cilantro
    5. Sweet Potatoes
    6. Tinned or fresh tomatoes
    7. Coconut milk
    8. Frozen Salmon
    9. Premade gnocchi
    10. Ground turkey breast
    11. Eggs

  5. Kathleen says...

    A feel that are key in our house that don’t seem to come up on others’ lists as often:

    Frozen shrimp (the quickest thawing/ cooking protein around)
    Cous cous (again with the fast)
    Canned black beans
    Chicken stock
    Kimchi (my most virtuous “guilty” pleasure)
    Russet Potatoes

  6. Michaela Carroll says...

    Ooh, love how this made me think of mine!
    1. Eggs- we go through a lot of these
    2. Harissa- love me some shakshuka when I don’t feel like doing anything elaborate/washing lots of dishes
    3. Red Thai Curry Paste- my new favorite thing is eggs scrambled in this with some olive oil and with a little hot sauce at the end, plus an avocado and salt/pepper
    4. Chocolate Chips
    5. Trader Joes Teeny Tiny Avocados- single servings!
    6. Banza chickpea spaghetti
    7. Parmesan- easy to make soups and pastas more delicious
    8. Frozen salmon- if I can plan 24h ahead to defrost it, that’s dinner sorted (plus some kind of green or salad)
    9. Sweet potatoes- my favorite “sweet” veggie- I’ve been having sweet potato bowls for breakfast!
    10. Everything But the Bagel seasoning- makes everything better!

  7. Billie says...

    Love it! I think my list is similar! We just about always have on hand:

    – eggs
    – bread
    – frozen peas
    – rice
    – cheddar cheese
    – good thai curry paste
    – garlic paste
    – onions
    – almond milk
    – tinned tomatoes
    – roasted almonds
    – crunchy peanut butter
    – olive oil + butter
    – vegemite (we are Australian! It is an acquired taste!)

    I also normally have about a thousand condiments but the heros are: good grainy mustard, soy sauce, fish sauce and worcestershire sauce. My latest fav veggie sautée is veggies, worcestershire & garlic – it is soooooo good and super easy.

  8. Irina says...

    It’s fun to see everyone’s top 10 (or similar) lists! Mine would be:

    1) Eggs (we keep chickens which makes it easy to have eggs on hand!)
    2) Green tea (can’t start the day without it)
    3) Bread (usually a loaf of simplified homemade no-knead bread)
    4) Cheese (for snacking, sandwiches, melting on top of things…)
    5) Garlic (makes any savory dish better)
    6) Potatoes (we’re from Russia so we eat lots of potatoes!)
    7) Dark chocolate (a square is a must for me after every meal)
    8) Sausage, salami, prosciutto, hot dogs… some sort of processed meat (for quick meals and snacks for my meat eater husband)
    9) Dry lentils/beans/chickpeas (I cook big batches and freeze some or use throughout the week)
    10) Tomato paste (for quick tomato sauce or adding to soups and stews)

  9. Sarah says...

    -brown and white rice
    -sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, garlic, red pepper flakes (Staples of Korean cooking!)
    -olive oil
    -frozen peas, broccoli, green beans (for easy vegetables – love Trader Joe’s for this!)
    -pasta, canned plum tomatoes, and Italian sausages to make an easy spaghetti (throw in anchovy sauce to up the flavor easily!)
    -tortillas & shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for easy tortillas, breakfast burritos, etc.)
    -sandwich bread
    -bag of spinach or kale
    -parsley to make an easy salsa verde sauce or chimichurri sauce to go with meat
    -salsa, kimchi, or sriracha sauce to spice up any dish
    -block of parmesan cheese to grate over pasta
    -tofu (to pan fry with salt and pepper for an easy meal. Yum)
    -frozen dumplings
    -frozen fruit for smoothies
    -orange or grapefruit juice
    -dark chocolate chips, of course (for cookies, banana bread, and mostly solo eating)

    We make a hodgepodge of Korean, Mexican, and Italian food in our home! Good to have your tips Jenny and love reading other people’s lists!

  10. My 10 must-have ingredients are a lot different than this ? I definitely feel you on the eggs and chocolate chips (I have white, milk AND dark ones in my fridge at all times!), but I’ve found that the ingredients I use most are ones that I didn’t know even existed a few years ago. Nowadays my cupboard is always stocked up on various forms of coconut (shredded, desiccated, etc), condensed milk, and lots of cream! Bet you can’t tell I’m a baker, huh? ?

  11. E says...

    Mine usual grocery cart haul:
    -veg (peppers, kale, arugula, spinach, mushrooms, tomato, cucumbers, avocado, sweet potato)
    – fruit (pears, bananas, berries)
    – plain greek yogurt (can use it in place of sour cream too)
    – light rye bread
    – quinoa
    – lemons
    – soy sauce
    – eggs
    – cheese (cheddar and parm)
    – mix of toasted walnuts/ sunflower seeds/ pumpkin seeds for topping a salad
    – EVOO and balsamic vinegar
    – tofu
    – chicken thighs
    – pasta and jarred sauce
    – wraps
    – kidney beans
    – sausage
    – salsa

    I can whip up quite the variety of stir fries, salads, burritos, egg dishes and pastas just with different combos of the above!

  12. -Eggs
    -Fresh fruit: green grapes, satsumas (clementines/mandarins for you non-Louisiana folks :) and whatever else is on sale at Costco
    -3 pack Organic ground beef (thx again Costco)
    -Pretzels or saltines
    -Salad greens

  13. Daniela says...

    I love Jenny! We always keep pizza ingredients on hand because it’s our go to when not feeling motivated or creative.

    Pizza crust, cheese, marinara sauce, toppings. Of course, bread and sliced cheese is also a must for lazy day grilled cheeses

  14. Cece says...

    This is fascinating!

    We always have:

    – Bread
    – Whole milk (for the 3-year-old)
    – Tinned beans (cannelloni, chickpeas etc)
    – Tinned tomatoes
    – Anchovies
    – Parmesan, cheddar and feta
    – Frozen spinach
    – Frozen peas or sweet corn
    – Pasta. Always and forever
    – Eggs
    – Broccoli

    If in doubt (which is many evenings when we’ve forgotten to plan anything!) there’s always shakshuka, scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, spaghetti puttanesca, omelettes, bean and tomato stews etc etc.

  15. Megan says...

    Vegan here, so we have to get a little creative:
    -coffee! Half caff cause I’m breastfeeding, but still so good
    -protein bars- my go to snack during the day that keeps me fueled
    -beans- for homemade hummus or bean dip, or just as they are for topping tacos or in chili
    -cashews- always have a cup or so soaking in water for a great “cheese” base
    -oatmeal-the most filling and comforting breakfast for those cold mornings
    -molasses-unusual I know, but under appreciated and good in sauces or in waffles
    -broccoli- my current salad staple
    -blackberries- eat these like candy year round!
    -baby food purée- for me! Already purées self serving size for sneaking in any dish to get more veggies
    -frozen peas or corn- again super versatile, can complete a meal or stir fry

  16. Sarah says...

    I’m taking notes from all these wonderful lists!
    Mine is:
    Doret Frozen Garlic cubes (for when the garlic bulbs have accidently turned to powder)
    Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt (Thanks to Samin Nosrat)
    Salted Butter
    Some kind of green to be sauteed
    Chicken thighs (in the freezer)
    Bacon (in the freezer)
    Lemon Juice (for when the lemons have accidentally turned to rocks)
    Canned Tomatoes
    Canned Beans (any kind)
    Good Olive Oil
    Hard cheese
    GOOD coffee plus 1/2 and 1/2-the best morning treat
    And recently, Trader Joes Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in the freezer, because the ingredient list is actually not scary, and I love that I can bake just two late night cookies on a whim :)

  17. TC says...

    I have a lot of the regulars, but I also have recently added anchovy paste to my list! It adds a great umami flavor to spaghetti sauces and meats without actually tasting fishy.

  18. Sharon in Scotland says...

    I always have:
    Fresh root ginger
    Soy sauce
    Cheese, (usually sharp cheddar and parm)
    Olive oil
    Brown rice and pasta
    Light coconut milk
    Tinned toms
    Tinned beans
    Maldon sea salt/black peppercorns

  19. Vira says...

    My list is:
    Pasta, all kinds
    Canned/jarred artichokes
    Fresh green beans
    Canned milk to make anything that calls for cream(cooks down beautifully)
    Olive oil & red wine vinegar
    Always frozen broccoli (I travel a lot)

  20. Amy says...

    I love eggs too, but please could someone let me know if eating one or more eggs per day can cause high cholesterol?

  21. I love this post & all the ideas it gave me! Yum.
    My list:
    – Lemons: for zesting into dishes, sliced into G&T’s or water, mixed with butter for roasting fish, for a quick lemony tea cake or to remove any weird smells in the fridge / from my hands.
    – Chickpeas
    – Lemons
    – fresh & tinned tomatoes
    – fresh carrots
    – cheddar cheese
    – Mixed dried herbs
    – Eggs

    • Mary M. Barnett says...

      I love that “lemons” is on here twice! :-)

  22. edie says...

    Trader Joe’s pasta, zucchini, good olive oil, English muffins, jam, and Pop Tarts :)

  23. Natalie T. says...

    Love this post! I am surprised I didn’t see more mentions of COCONUT MILK. That stuff is a life saver for curries and soups. Pair it with some pre-cooked rice and you’re ready to go or have a curried or creamy soup. Chia seeds, red curry, fish sauce, and soya sauce have all been staples for me lately as well.

  24. Claire P says...

    My list is similar to all the ones I’ve read. I’d add:
    –can of coconut milk
    –red curry paste
    –jasmine rice
    –can of garbanzo beans
    –sweet potato or two
    That cooking class I took in Thailand has more than paid for itself in quick, easy, comfort-food dinners. The “pantry” version is almost as good as the one that takes more time and ingredients.

  25. Good quality sour cream is my addition to this great list. I add it to soups and even tomatoes sauce but here’s a great addition to a pork or beef tenderloin: equal parts sour cream/mayo and horse radish.
    – Love chickpeas with a fried egg on top, 1/4 of avacado, and a teaspoon of sour cream. It’s my breakfast every morning. You can also add salsa to it.
    -capers are great too on salads

  26. Oh I have a list.
    – extra snacks for tomo ( my cat) temptations the milk kind
    – avocados
    -penne noodles ( i have an obsession with them and they are overflowing at everyone house, I feel I have to bring my family a few boxes lol )
    – crushed tomatoes
    – coffee, espresso
    -hot sauce, sriracha
    -korean/japanese ramen
    – kimchi
    – red bean paste
    – simple syrup
    – apple cider vinegar
    – gummy worms
    -sparkling water.
    -korean sweet potatoes
    – either dark stout beer or white wine or sake/soju
    I know an odd list. but these are the first things I pick up thinking i have none lol

  27. Kathleen says...

    Oh and make sure you use freezer bags or whatever you put in the freezer will taste like freezer when you eat it. Yuck!

  28. Kathleen says...

    I stopped using semi sweet chocolate chips when my daughter said to me one day, “you know you can use milk chocolate chips in your cookies?” I didn’t even know they were available! They make the best cookies!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s good to know!

    • Taylor says...

      That’s funny, because I have the anti-milk chocolate kids. They like the 60% dark chips (and steal my husbands good single origin bars?)

  29. Kath says...

    My staples as a veg:
    -fruit: bananas, apples, frozen mixed berries
    -DF high protein milk (silk nut + protein, or good karma flax + protein)
    -veggies: kale, spinach, grape tomatoes, onion, carrots, avocado (if they aren’t rocks)
    -canned beans: black, chickpeas, refried
    -grains: farro, oats, ezekiel bread
    -veg protein: tempeh, seitan, lentil noodles
    -EVOO, balsamic, apple cider, white wine, dijon, lemon, lime
    – dark chocolate :)

  30. Tess says...

    Parmesan and spaghetti (for my not quite authentic version of cacio e pepe), lemons for salad dressing and adding a necessary hit of acidity to any and everything, full fat Greek yogurt (one of the few things my toddler will always eat and a perfect sauce for roasted veggies), potatoes, bread (l live in Germany: bread is life), butter, olive oil, eggs, frozen herbs (make everything better!), frozen spinach that I add to everything (smoothies, pasta sauces, soups, curries, stir fry, burritos,…).

  31. Julie says...

    I always have on hand:

    Frozen green peas for a quick side
    Capers, to brighten up dishes
    Fresh lemons, it’s my favorite flavor
    Pickled jalapenos for snacking
    Boxes of quick cooking couscous
    Harissa (roasted vegetables with harissa and chickpeas are such a great vegetarian dish)
    Dijon mustard to boost homemade vinaigrette

    • Julie says...

      Oh, and fish sauce! It add so much complexity to sauces and marinades.

  32. Rachel says...

    Love this! My personal list would also include San Marzano crushed tomatoes and lemon.

  33. Olivia says...

    It’s so funny how different the lists are! Mine is so plain, but without these staples I’m lost. We’re Greek.

    Olive oil
    Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce (8 oz little guys)

    An added bonus: heavy cream

    • JoAnne says...

      That’s it perfect!

    • Madeline says...

      I’m Greek too and could copy and paste this list! Love it!

  34. Maryann says...

    I love a good pantry list. Why are these lists so comforting?

    Please tell me more about the wonton wrappers. I have a stack frozen for which I keep assuring my partner I have a plan. (I have no plan.)

    Happy New Year Cup of Jo!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      Maryann – Generally I keep them in the freezer and try to remember to take them out to thaw on the counter 30-60 minutes before I use them. Here is what I typically do with them for a clean-the-fridge-out dinner.

      You can feel free to throw in tofu or cooked chicken or pork, too. Dumplings are very forgiving!

    • Sarah says...

      Haha. Me too Maryann! They were so cheap and thus so tempting to buy! Glad you talked about this Jenny so I can put them to use!

    • Maryann says...

      Jenny – Thank you for the reply! We made wontons this weekend with all sorts of odds and ends from the fridge based on your recipe and my family LOVED them. Major win. Buying another stack for the freezer this week.

  35. Claire says...

    Tomatoes and serrano peppers (ingredients to make salsa), black beans, avocados, tortillas, lemons, eggs, tea. Apples. Instant yeast to make bread. Chicken stock. Pasta. Parmesan cheese.

  36. I want to mess around with making dumplings with wontons! I have a dear friend who made Mid-East dumplings using those wrappers and then you cook them in a yogurt sauce.

    Also, I always have red miso on hand and we use it for miso soup. But perhaps I should stock white miso, too? I tend to add fish sauce when a sauce or soup seems a little flat.

  37. Emma says...

    Probably no one else is going to mention this… but I always keep whole nutmeg around! It’s really good in cream sauces, baked goods, curries, etc.

    Also I highly recommend growing parsley–it can keep going seemingly forever (just cut and let it come back), you can do it in a container if you have no garden space, and it’s amazingly flavorful in so many dishes. I also like it dried in soups but it has to be relatively fresh or it loses a lot of oomph.

    I try to eat mostly veggies that are in season or preserved, so that kind of dictates what I’m eating in the vegetable department. My boyfriend and I have a “food fund” for groceries (and sometimes eating out, if we have a surplus)–we contribute $50 each on Saturdays, then go to market (also Saturdays). Later on I’ll go grocery shopping for whatever else we need but I like that it’s based around market day so we spend money first on really good dairy, meat, and vegetables. Then I pick up grains, oils, vinegars, granola, and coffee somewhere else. I try to have some form of “portable carb” handy too–crackers, naan, focaccia, baguette, whatever. Sometimes you just need to keep going.

  38. Chelsea says...

    These are all great ideas! Also, has no one mentioned salsa?!? It’s mandatory that I have salsa in my house at all times. I love it with chips and on typical Mexican dishes like tacos, fajitas, and nachos, but it’s also great for topping scrambled eggs in the morning and any time you want to add a little extra flavor to a dish.

    I’ve also discovered I’m not great at keeping lots of fresh vegetables on hand to throw into salads, they tend to go bad before I get around to using them. So I started buying jarred olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. Then whenever I need a salad I can buy a bag of spring mix, throw these on top, and make the Barefoot Contessa’s Greek salad dressing (which is super easy), and I have a delicious and easy salad. Also, if I happen to have a baguette, I’ll roughly chop it and sauté it in olive oil with some oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder for some homemade croutons. I made this salad for lunch on Christmas Day while hosting my vegetarian mother-in-law and she loved it!

    • Claire says...

      YES SALSA!!! I make my own.
      I like your salad ideas.

  39. Jim says...

    Ridiculous. Eggs, butter, coffee, milk, flour

  40. deannagabriel says...

    Oh JR, you’re just the best and i LOOOOOOVE this series on CoJ! I’ve been a JR devotee for ages so much of that list is my lifesaver, but I just can’t seem to get on the avocado train (I apparently am terrible at determining when they’re ripe). However, I absolutely love….
    – sweet potatoes!! Made into a hash and served with an egg for breakfast, topped with black beans and salsa for lunch, roasted and used as chips for a snack, or cut into wedges, seasoned, and served with roasted chick peas for dinner! Use ’em in a curry, pureed with some broth and used as sauce on pasta… Is there ANYTHING these humble delicious tubers can’t do?
    – those Real Lemon and Real Lime packets! They’re a lifesaver because they never go bad. (As a single lady, produce going bad and thus to waste is an issue for me.) Such an easy way to add some zing to dressings, sprinkled on top of veggies, wherever you need a splash of citrus in a pinch.
    – homemade flavor bombs. Leftover herbs, garlic, olive oil, maybe a little lemon juice/zest if I have some on hand then pureed and frozen in silicon ice cube trays. Thaw or throw into a pan to make a quick sauce, tossed with veggies or chicken or shrimp, drizzled on top of eggs. SO EASY.

  41. Karina says...

    I love this so much. It’s 6am in London and I am now so hungry! I remember seeing an avocado in my kitchen last night so I will have this with an egg as soon as I finish typing here.

    The items I will always have at home…
    Frozen peas (add olive oil and feta, garlic and pepper. I lived on this in college)
    Peanut butter (I eat a spoonful When hungry)
    Golden beetroot (sliced thinly as the best snack)
    Sun dried tomatoes
    Dark chocolate (melt in the mouth for instant happiness)

  42. Jovita says...

    Thank you for this! As someone moving into her own apartment for the first time, I shall be referring to this list often :)

  43. Mel says...

    Thank you thank you thank you! We’ve just gotten a place of our own and never know what to stock in the fridge! Lesser eating out, more eating in! This is great! :)

  44. Sara says...

    Kings Hawaiian Rolls! Maybe this is just a west coast item?? When my boys were little and had smaller appetites, they refused to eat anything on a bun that was cut in half, so I started making everything into “slider” size portions using these little Hawaiian rolls as the buns.. Grown-ups usually eat two and the boys have one. Slider burgers, slider ham and cheese sandwiches, slider pb&J, slider pulled pork, slider fried egg and bacon, slider avocado toast, slider…slider…slider.

    • Robin says...

      SAME! (And I’m an East Coaster!) I always buy King’s Hawaiian rolls to use as a delicious base for building sliders out of holiday leftovers, whether ham on Easter or turkey on Thanksgiving.

    • Kim says...

      No, they are all over the east coast. I just moved here from Seattle last February and I never remember seeing them in WA or OR.

  45. Neha says...

    The ONE thing our house can’t do without is BANANAS!!

    My Labrador dog and I eat bananas like toffees… and we always start our day with a banana!! We also end our day with a carrot, so that is the second thing that we always have on our list!

    There was a glorious time when I thought his food would come out of a packet, but he got severely sick and after many months the vet and I realised that it was most likely preservatives in dog food that do him in… and now it makes my heart swell to realise that family is kinda also built on cooking and sharing (and stealing) of food!

    • Sharon says...

      As a fellow Lab owner (one chocolate and one yellow ;-)) this made me smile. We feed ours green beans, spaghetti squash, bananas and carrots!, avocado, apple, cucumber, bits of cheese, peanut butter, the ends of steaks. Our chocolate is a foodie at heart, and does a little victory dance through the house whenever he gets a particularly delicious piece of slightly warm cheese. Our dogs are honored members of our family. Feeding and nurturing them is a part of my every day. And no one makes me feel more love then my dogs!

  46. Lauren B says...

    Is the photo Jenny’s preferred brands? I’d love to add white miso and harissa to our kitchen, and might as well start with good ones!

    I would be perfectly content eating non-meals, where I just snacked on different combinations of:
    * eggs
    * spinach
    * “everything but the bagel” seasoning
    * fresh ground peanut butter (NEVER any added sugar!)
    * good cheese
    * avocado
    * tomato
    * salami/proscuitto
    * pickles
    * and Ghirardelli brownie mix for when unexpected guests stop by
    (can you tell I like savory foods?)

    • Stephanie says...

      I would happily live on this list. Too bad I have to feed the others in my family too. :)

    • Katie says...

      I keep white miso in my fridge too. It’s great for a lot of things. I personally have only seen that brand at the store. It’s sometimes hard to find, but Whole Foods typically keeps it in a refrigerated section near the produce. I had to ask the first time I was looking for it (didn’t have a pic of a container, I just knew I needed white miso).

  47. kash says...

    I have a kind of mental list–things I always throw into my basket if they are on sale at the grocery story (my list is a butcher’s dozen!):

    -Cheese 1 (a kind that will melt, like cheddar or goat or gruyere)
    -Cheese 2 (always parmesan)
    -A Green Thing (kale, spinach, collard greens, whatever is on sale)
    -Olive Oil or butter
    -Canned tuna (in olive oil, preferably!)
    -Canned tomatoes
    -Canned chickpeas
    -Dry pasta

    With those kicking around, I can make a bunch of things that I like to eat, like…
    scrambled eggs with onions and cheese and the Green Thing
    five different kinds of pasta (one that is just butter/onion/tomato, and another that has the cinnamon, capers, and tuna, one that is just olive oil and garlic, one that is olive oil and garlic plus the Green Thing, and either cacio e pepe if what i have is olive oil or spaghetti limone if what I have is butter)
    chickpeas stewed in tomato sauce
    chickpeas in tomato sauce with the Green Thing
    tuna, Green Thing, chickpeas, olive oil, capers, garlic in a bowl and called a “salad” hahahha

    and the list goes on! my list was easier to write than i thought it would be–long-held habits, i guess!

    • Karina says...

      I love ‘the green thing’ ;). Totally going to copy that

  48. Jody says...

    So fun! Mine:
    – shallots
    – parm
    – Neareast herbed chicken couscous
    – Mary’s Gone Crackers
    – frozen naan
    And ditto the Everything Bagel seasoning from TJ’s :)

  49. Wulan Hermawati says...

    at any given moment I always have:
    -rice (we’re Asians so it’s a must)
    -egg for scrambled egg, omelette, sunny side up, stir fried with rice, baking, or a gourmet dish on its own, anything! we always have at least two dozens
    -vermicelli/noodle for quick stirfry or soup when I’m in a hurry
    -chili because we never eat without sambal
    -tomatoes for soup, sambal and salad
    -carrot for soup

    oh and it’s nice to see how everyone’s staple is different :)

    • R says...

      love love LOVE seeing a list that’s not just pasta/tomatoes/european staples — it’s time for some new voices in here!!

  50. Cynthia says...

    I can’t begin to name the foods in our pantry and freezers. My husband made fantastic hummus for our Sunday lunch with canned chickpeas, jarred roasted red peppers and sesame oil. As my husband does 99% of the cooking, he can pull a rabbit out of a hat. I can cook, but he enjoys it more than I do. I enjoy doing holiday meals and special dishes.

  51. For me, it’s:
    – eggs
    – milk
    – frozen broccoli and cauliflower (fresh would be wonderful but I am a busy mum and sometimes things rot in my crisper)!
    – taco spices
    – beef mince (so versatile)
    – cheese (grated or in block form – cheddar usually)
    – some puff pastry in the freezer
    – spinach or rocket
    – balsamic vinegar
    – pasta

    • TH says...

      hahaha this is my list as well!

  52. Rebecca says...

    I’ve been thinking about a list like this to give each of my teens living away from home for the first time. Without reading the other comments, my 10 would be:
    olive oil
    chicken breasts
    panko bread crumbs
    frozen peas
    trumpet or tube pasta
    Cardini’s dressing
    Oops, that’s twelve!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a great idea to give a list to teens or college students!

    • B says...

      Our babysitter told me the other day that when she was in highschool with too crazy of a schedule for a regular job her parents gave her the grocery budget on the first of each month ($600) and she was in charge of keeping the house stocked with staples plus the grocery list each week. If she wanted to shop around and keep the difference that was up to her and if she wanted to pay a premium for prechopped veggies that was fine too. What a parenting hack huh!?

  53. HL says...

    Magically, my 3&5 yo’s go nuts for roasted chickpeas—we love ours roasted with sumac, oil, salt, and a dusting of nutritional yeast. Omg.
    (I just love, love, love these JR+CoJ collabs!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      (I just love, love, love these JR+CoJ collabs!)” = me too <3

  54. Lisa says...

    Agree with so many of these. We always have tahini (raw sesame paste) so we can make tehina and its great as a salad dressing, particularly over any roasted vegetable (with honey). Also – frozen peas. I have two small children and when we’re low on ingredients I can at least make pasta with peas and cheese, or add them to vegetable soup, have with meatballs and so on.
    Avocado toast is a standard meal in our house as well because it’s quick and everyone loves it. You can fancy it up with egg or feta or smoked salmon, or keep it plain and simple

  55. Lib says...

    I’ve started paying close attention (not in a “creepy” way, but in a “present & interested” way) to other people’s grocery items while I wait in line. Makes the time actually enjoyable, and seeing how other people choose to fill their carts & homes feels so intimate to me, like a glimpse into their solo weeknight creativities or kiddo-loving favorites. :)

    Most have already been mentioned, but to add:
    Tomato paste
    TJ’s Soy-aki
    Basil Pesto
    Plain greek yog (for sour cream, cremas, w/ granola, or in a smoothie)
    Cashew milk <3
    WF Pitted Green Olives w/ Sicilian Herbs
    Curry simmer sauce
    TJs frozen cotija corn – an amazing addition to salads, fajitas, eggs, etc.!

    (PS – A favorite easy go-to each week is SP Fajitas –

    • kash says...

      Lib, I do this too! It makes me feel really warm about other people

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that you guys do this. now i want to try it. :)

    • Angel says...

      I do this too! Sometimes I ask what people are going to make with their groceries.

  56. Erin says...

    I have decided that a bag of pumpkin seeds (TJ’s carries them) stashed in the freezer is my secret weapon for non-boring green salads. Toast a few and put them on any combo of raw veggies… so yummy!

    • Paige says...

      I keep pumpkin seeds and sliced raw almonds in my freezer, too!

  57. Katie says...

    “And because I’m human.” …The best line. : -)

  58. So fun to read all the comments here! I eat plant-based and gluten free and could probably live off:
    – Sweet potatoes
    – Avocados
    – Leafy greens
    – Gluten free bread
    – Hummus
    – Jackfruit (mix with a simple barbeque sauce or marinade and you have an easy dish you can put on potatoes, bread or atop a grain bowl!)
    – Quinoa and quinoa pasta
    – Garbanzo flour (makes a delicious flatbread/ tortilla with water in minutes)
    – Nuts/ seeds (cashews, chia, pumpkin are current faves)
    – Fennel (both the seed and the root. I make the seeds into a tea every night, and fennel roasted in a bit of olive oil is a great side on its own)

    Now, add an entire kitchen cabinet of herbs and spices (I’m an Ayurvedic practitioner) and I’m all set!

    • Mary Wallace says...

      This is fascinating. If you’re ever in the DC area, would you be interested in giving a lunchtime talk at my workplace? We have an enthusiastic vegan/vegetarian community. My email is

    • Christina says...

      Hi Mary, that’s amazing, I would love to! Unfortunately, I don’t have any DC trips planned currently (I’m based in California) but I will keep your email and reach out to you when I do! If you’re interested, my website is

  59. Anon says...

    wilted greens, half eaten string cheese, creamer gone bad, impressive assortment of questionable condiments,meal prepped overnight oats forgotten in fridge,potatoes ready to grow potatoes
    And half empty boxes of all kinds of fancy pastas¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Sara says...

      This made me laugh so hard! This is also my kitchen except I’m in a major nesting phase, so it will be clean for about three days

    • leslie says...

      haha yes!

    • Mims says...

      snort! so true and funny! plus slimy fermentation experiments, garlic cloves more green than white, half empty tomato paste can growing mold, bottle of probiotics expired 2015, umeboshi paste Xmas gift 2012, that suspect jar of homemade chutney your neighbor gave you, almost full tin of petrified anchovies, rando packages of asian seasoning you wont eat because ingredients listed in asian kanji and not sure if has MSG, and the unopened can of already ground coffee just in case you have a power outage and cannot use the bean grinder.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha ALWAYS the creamer gone bad.

    • H says...

      Target carries boxes of those little cups of shelf stable half and half (like at diners). Solved my expired creamer problems.

  60. Alison says...

    Staples I always have…
    frozen fruits
    brown rice
    canned beans
    almond milk
    hot sauce
    Annie’s Mac and Cheese (for those I just can’t cook tonight nights!)
    & Getting some great staple ideas on here- thank you!!

  61. Cynthia says...

    My fridge is never without: eggs, Parm, Dijon mustard, champagne
    My pantry is never without: oats, pasta, beans, sardines, tuna
    My freezer is never without: good bread, bacon, homemade bone broth, leftover soups and stews and chili

    There isn’t a situation or meal that can’t be dealt with ASAP! Makes life easier.

    • Lilly says...

      OH that’s magic, thank you!!

  62. eggs
    canned tuna
    canned tomatoes
    olive oil

  63. CityMaus says...

    Most of my staples have already been mentioned but I have to add: canned black beans, good pasta, a log of goat cheese, Trader Joe’s kumato tomatoes, Penzey’s Chicago steak seasoning, smoked salmon, and frozen green peas, of course!

  64. erica milsom says...

    Red peppers – They just make salads and soups so much more yummy and beautiful.
    Hulled Hemp Seeds – I’m a vegetarian and I sprinkle this on yogurt and salads twice a day. I love these seeds because they are delicious, think nutty and fatty combined, and they provide a HUGE nutritional bump, omega 3s, protein, magnesium, vitamin c.
    Yogurt – I use the icelandic kind because it’s so crazy full of protein… I eat it every moring before working out.
    Milk – Whole – I have 2 evening snacks every night. A big mug of herbal tea followed by a warm cup of whole milk. There is something just as comforting as a glass of wine in this habit, but a bit more nourishing.

  65. Sonja says...

    My daughter would find everything except of the chickpeas super disgusting (she is 4 – I loooove it) ?

  66. Hilary says...

    Oh love this! My staples always include-

    – tortillas (both flour and corn) in the freezer
    – bread in the freezer
    – variety of canned beans (black, chickpeas, refried)
    – cheese
    – frozen roasted corn and frozen peppers and onions (both Trader Joe’s!)

    A variety of Tex mex meals from quesadillas to tacos are always available along with the trusty grilled cheese!

    • Trader Joe’s has roasted frozen corn!? I’ll have to take a look next time. LOVE having frozen corn and peas on hand.

    • Hilary says...


      YES! TJ’s has regular frozen corn and then roasted frozen corn. The roasted is sooo flavorful we love it in tex mex food! It’s also really good cooked on the stove with red onion, a squeeze of lime, and topped with feta!

    • Eloise says...

      Yes, to TJ’s frozen roasted corn! That, and TJ’s refrigerated lentils, are two of my go to’s when I don’t have wnergy to make ANYTHING!

  67. Sara says...

    Our list is:
    lemons (because there is nothing that citrus can’t help)
    Frozen orange chicken from Trader Joe’s

    • Alison says...

      that TJ’s chicken is the BEST!

    • Sara says...

      I know! I was super impressed the first time I tried it, you’d never know it was frozen

  68. claire says...

    Maldon sea salt
    Lemons (because it can add flavour to almost anything)
    Frank’s hot sauce

  69. Mine are:
    – avocados
    – (self raising) flour
    – greek yoghurt
    – mozarella
    – spinach
    – cucumber
    – green pesto
    – eggs
    – tinned tomatoes
    – tinned beans (kidney or black)

    I feel these are my staples for tasty, healthy and easy meals and snacks around the clock!

  70. Laura says...

    I always have a number of different hot sauces, lemons, nutella and jarred pasta sauces like pesto and marinara.

  71. maywyn says...

    Garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, basil, curley parsley, apples, good bread, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, black beans, real butter, cheese, eggs, oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate, cinnamon

  72. Meg says...

    Such a great list.
    I signed up for the Cook90 challenge this year (AHHH!) and did a bit of internet research on chefs fave pantry/grocery items and found these items to be high on many lists:
    Red Onion or shallot
    cured salmon
    Dijon mustard
    Stonewall Maple Syrup
    Olive oil
    apple cider vinegar
    Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
    RAO’S tomato sauce
    oil-packed tuna
    anchovies or anchovy paste
    Pasta fave brands: DeCecco, Cipriani
    smoked paprika
    bay leaf
    good quality dark chocolate

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oooh these all sounds so good! how do you use ghee? as a replacement for butter?

    • R says...

      Love Ghee <3
      We spread it on warm Roti/Naan,add a spoonful into daal or tomato soup,
      I even spread it on toast just out of the toaster ..yum :)

    • Catherine says...

      Ghee is the best for sautéing because it’s got a high-smoke point and it’s hands-down best thing to pop popcorn in!

    • M says...

      To the comment that talks about ‘oxidized cholestrol’: Ghee has been consumed for centuries in Indian cuisine. It promotes hair health, keeps the skin supple and shining, enhances brain development (which is mostly fat) and protects the stomach lining. In fact, in India, children’s meals are never cooked in oil, only ghee. It is so wrong to spread fear about ingredients citing these bizarre chemical compounds. How do you know it is bad? Do you know our body doesn’t oxidize all types of cholesterol anyway? Metabolic pathways are intense and any scientist here will tell you we don’t really understand huge parts of it. It is fear-mongering to throw out such terms and confuse people.
      Not to pick on you, but it is really strange that we (as in all people) have abandoned centuries of food knowledge for this type of fear-based diet which we really don’t know the outcome of by using these terms which scare people. People should study the full research, read the actual paper and understand the full metabolic process before concluding that something that is so prevalent in another part of the world’s diet is really bad for you. There is a big movement to embrace these traditional ingredients again in Asian cultures now when cheaper and harmful fats have wrecked havoc on the health of the common folks in the name of being “good for you”.
      Ghee is just clarified butter, it is heated so it is easier to digest since the long fatty chains are broken. Also, at a time when refrigeration was not available, ghee was a super alternative – it doesn’t need refrigeration at all!
      The key is moderation – of course, if you eat 10 spoons of ghee a day, it is bad, just like anything consumed in excess.
      And Joanna – yes, you can use ghee as replacement for butter or as a cooking medium for frying onions/garlic in pasta or soups.
      Sorry to sound all angry, but this half-baked food information really angers me. All sorts of websites tell you different things and based on who sponsors them, advocate a specific food group!

    • Sarah says...

      Omg I just bought Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt a few weeks back after watching Salt Fat Acid Heat by the fabulous Samin Nosrat and it made an immediate and stark difference in my cooking!!

    • Meg says...

      This might sound challenging, but I actually put a tbsp of ghee in my coffee and then chuck it all in a blender and make a frothy delicious warm drink every morning.
      It’s sort of bullet-proof light and I’m addicted!
      I also use it for sautéing veggies and eggs.


  73. Emma says...

    Just got home from Christmas vacation to a mostly empty fridge. But I did have potatoes and Jimmy Dean sassage so we’ll be having potato sausage soup for dinner tonight. So I guess I would add sausage and potatoes to this list. :)

  74. Katie says...

    In addition to the staples, like olive oil/butter and pasta/grains, I always make sure I have the following on hand:
    Cheese (at least one of these three – sharp cheddar, feta or parmesan)
    Whole grain mustard
    Can of beans
    Can of whole peeled tomatoes
    Sweet Potatoes
    Canned tuna
    Greens (either spinach, chard or kale)

    I can make SO MANY things with the above ingredients.

    • kash says...

      Katie, I posted my comment and then was reading through the others–our list is SO similar! that’s neat :)

  75. Becky says...

    So glad the COJ team is back!
    Reading these comments is like a whole bonus post that keeps on giving!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Glad to be back! I missed these conversations so much over the holidays. :)

  76. Nina says...

    I always have:

    – lemon/pepper
    – mccormick’s montreal seasoning (great on steak and hamburger)
    – shredded asiago or parmesan
    – linguini
    – mac n cheese (for my boy)
    – peanut butter
    – cheese you can grab as a snack
    – nuts (also snack food or you can throw in a salad)
    – bagged salad. I know I know the whole romaine scare. so one that note I always keep Redmond Clay (bentonite clay) on hand for upset tummies for me, my dog, my kid anyone who will take it.

    • C says...

      Oh Nina, the Montreal seasoning. My boyfriend introduced me to this a couple years ago, and now I put it on EVERYTHING. I love it on roasted veggies, potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Also yes to cheese you can grab as a snack!

    • Emily says...

      I have the dried bentonite clay for masks in my cabinet, so is there a different food grade kind? And how do you take? I am intrigued . . .

  77. ana martins says...

    In addition to this great list, I would add Italian red pepper paste (it’s chopped chilli peppers in olive oil), olive paste to slather on bread instead of or in addition to butter, pasta (all shapes), and for my kiddo, any kind of jello, which he loves to make on his own.

  78. S Kay says...

    ok question, how do you store wontons to keep them on hand. I love making dumplings (making whole batches of them and then freezing for later too) but I’ve never known how to store the wrappers to have “on deck”. Just in the fridge or freezer?

    thank you!

    • Cathay says...

      Do you mean before or after you have opened the package? After you have opened the package there’s not much to do. But before, you simply throw the whole things in the freezer. I do this frequently, because the closest Asian grocery stocks a specific brand of dumpling wrappers and I swear all the Chinese chefs in the neighborhood must have the day they are stocked bookmarked because they are always out. When I see the ones I like, I’ll buy several packs and throw them in the freezer. Defrost overnight in the fridge and preferably take them out an hour before use so they are room temperature.

    • Emma says...

      Cathy has the unopened package storage covered… you can also make the wontons and freeze (reheating later). Best way to make sure they don’t freeze in a big clump—arrange separated on a sheet tray/cookie sheet. Freeze, then they can go into a smaller container. Personally they never make it that far… I can make as many as I want and they’ll be gone by the end of the week so I just keep in the fridge.

  79. Kim says...

    Great list and with the exception of the white miso (which I’m going to now pick up) very similar to mine. I always have the following:
    -good salted butter (yea toast for dinner)
    -giardinera (our house of two goes through a jar a month). Spicy or mild pick your poison. A couple spoon fulls in tuna salad or on a pepper and egg really jazzes things up. Or on a clean out the fridge salad. Yum.
    -the shelf stable tetra packed whipping cream from Trader Joe’s. Just so flipping handy & one of those things that tends to spoil in my fridge unless it’s the holiday season.
    -Instant mashed potatoes. Seriously. I always want these when I have a cold or flu or an especially rough day. Had saved us a fortune in carry out over the years having these around. Also great to thicken soup.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      YUM! love this list.

  80. Mims says...

    I have an autoimmune disorder that is in remission due to .gluten free vegan diet. In addition to many of the above mentioned (sweet potatoes, onions, etc) above I would add:
    1. PB2 powder: defatted peanut butter powder; makes amazing peanut sauce
    2. Limes! I have a bearss lime tree in our yard and freeze limes, so always have access. This vareity can sub for lemon in so many dishes too.
    3. sriracha. A STAPLE of the highest order.
    4. Instant fat free refried beans:
    5. trader joe GF red lentil pasta
    6. flaxseeds: for baking, smoothies, etc
    7. quinoa, lentils and beans for the pressure cooker
    8. Ezekial sprouted organic corn tortillas
    9. cilantro: mexican and asian dishes
    10. smoked salt and smoked paprika.
    I find I eat in a totally different way than I did when I was in my younger days, Now it is ethnic all the way: any cuisine that doesnt contain wheat, eggs and dairy: so African, Middle eastern, Asian, peruvian. Very tasty indeed. Definitely still room for extra dark chocolate!

    • C says...

      Mims – HOW DO YOU FREEZE LIMES??? (head exploding) – I must know!! :)

    • Curious says...

      Do you mind me asking, which auto-immune do you have? I have a couple, including MS, so I am curious, especially since this diet has benefited you.

    • Mims says...

      I just put them whole in the freezer : once defrosted they will never look or act like a fresh lime and you cannot really zest, but they are just fine for juicing.

    • Mims says...

      Curious, I have hashimoto’s thyrodiditis. When I was diagnosed I did a IgA, IgE and IgG food sensitivity test and it came back I was allergic to dairy, eggs and wheat, kidney beans, and a few other oddball things. I went vegan then (had been doing a meditteranean diet before that…alot of yogurt, eggs and healthy fats). On the plus side, My anti-Tg and Anti-TPO antibodies almost normal and I feel dramatically better. I lost 30 pounds, my blood sugars and blood pressure great and my joints feel better and my asthma disappeared. Wheat and dairy was definitely inflammatory for me. And too much fat, even healthy fats, piles on the weight and messes with my blood sugars. But I know alot of people do really well on paleo auto-immune protocol, or keto, or macrobiotic, etc. I am a medical researcher and know from years of reading the medical literature there is no one diet that fits all. Except for vegetables: everyone should be eating the rainbow of unfried, minimally processed, preferably organic veggies. Whole foods plant based works best for me at this stage of life. On the down side: sometimes I just want to eat a loaf of french bread slathered with butter but I know I will feel like crap afterwards, so I don’t.

    • Michelle says...

      Mims – I too have Hashis for which I have been taking synthroid for 15 years; however no one ever suggested I do any allergen testing. I have done a few rounds of whole30 and realized that gluten and sugar don’t love me back (and I’ve been lactose intolerant for 20 years), but I never connected any of that with my Hashis. Do you have any recommended resources on this? I’m super intrigued since I am always tired and my ferritin is in the toilet again – I usually feel better on whole30 but it’s frankly hard to maintain. If I knew there were real benefits for my Hashis I would probably be better at it. Thanks for sharing

    • I so appreciate your comment about how there’s not one diet that’s right for everybody. SO important to add! It’s amazing that this diet has worked wonders for you — I too was once gluten free in an effort to rein in my endometriosis, and it worked amazingly.

    • Mary W says...

      Thanks for the list and ideas.

    • Lauren says...

      Curious and Michelle,
      Check out Amy Meyers’ website. She is an MD who had Graves’ disease, and through her diet was able to reverse her autoimmune condition.

    • Claire P says...

      My head exploded too! Limes in the freezer! I sprinted to the freezer with 2 limes and one lemon. Can’t wait to defrost and test.

    • Lake Stewart says...

      I freeze limes and lemons and grate them frozen over fresh steamed vegies – rhind and all, toss with hemp oil, some fresh pepper and what ever salt I’m in the mood for. Pop them back in a freezer bag and continue using until its too small to grind.

  81. Kathy Farrell says...

    Love reading about what are the staples in peoples’ pantrys. Great way to start the new year!

  82. Lauren says...

    TJ’s everything but the bagel seasoning on avocado toast is everything :)

    I would also add lemons, farro, some sort of cheese (usually parm or feta), dijon, hot sauce, and all the beans.

    Happy 2019 everyone!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we just got the everything but the bagel seasoning! i wasn’t sure what to use it on, but avocado toast sounds wonderful :)

    • Emily says...

      Lauren and Joanna – It’s also super tasty on scrambled eggs!

    • Jennie says...

      YES for EBS on avocado toast – also great on potatoes.

    • Susan says...

      It’s also delicious sprinkled on cream cheese-covered celery logs. :)

    • Danielle says...

      Also so good on cottage cheese!

    • Laura says...

      Yes, that is my favorite breakfast- avo toast with either two fried or scrambled eggs and the seasoning on top. It’s beautiful and delicious!

    • Wendy Leonardo says...

      My husband had gone crazy with TJ’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning! He puts on veggies, baked potatoes and even salmon. My fav will always be on avocado toast.

    • Jane says...

      This seasoning is also nice sprinkled over mac and cheese!

    • Leah says...

      EBS on Caesar salad is so good!

    • Emily says...

      My favorite trick is to add an over-easy egg to avocado toast with everything bagel seasoning and you will be in pure delight! Side effects: a nose splotched with avocado, poppy seeds stuck between your teeth, and egg yolk dripping down your hands.

    • Ellie says...

      EBTBS will also take baked potatoes to a whole new level!

    • Katherine says...

      This is exactly what I came here to suggest. Add me to the chorus of there’s nothing everything bagel seasoning can’t heighten.

    • Hope says...

      I put it on pizza!

    • kash says...

      EBS is the BEST sprinkled over popcorn!

    • Kate says...

      Also makes excellent chicken tenders — mix a couple tablespoons with panko and dredge your tenders in flour/egg before you dip. Serve with whatever condiments your heart desires and sweet potato fries. ????

    • Lauren B says...

      its also great on eggs!!

  83. Hillary says...

    Showing my Italian here but I always have some kind of pasta (or several, if we’re being honest here,) garlic, onion, canned tomatoes – usually diced and crushed, and parmesan. Oh, and wine.

    Could I be a bigger stereotype?

  84. Emily says...

    My pantry staples are:
    – Grits (comfort side dish, cozy breakfast, or even cheap dinner main with some sauteed mushrooms and onions)
    – canned Cento tomatoes and rotel for last minute tomato soup or pasta sauce
    – pickles (the thing i’m always craving)
    Always on hand:
    – Eggs (the last minute leftover or fridge dump frittata is my specialty)
    – Bacon (and more importantly, the bacon grease we save for cooking spinach and frying eggs)
    – Spinach (see above, nothing that says “healthy ish” like spinach and sauteed in bacon grease)
    – garlic

  85. Yes to bourbon and you’re making me want to go make some of those chickpeas pronto!!!


  86. Ashley says...

    Red Pepper Flakes

    90% of my meals contain this and I LOVE IT

  87. Loren says...

    I could not live without nutritional yeast. I sprinkle it over roasted or steamed vegetables, make it into a quick hot drink {a couple of tablespoons in the bottom of a bowl with a squirt of Bragg’s Aminos, a couple of shakes of dried shallot, and a drizzle of olive oil}and use it in place of bouillon cubes to make a vegetarian soup stock. Favorite winter soup: leeks and garlic braised in olive oil and nutritional yeast, pan deglazed with vermouth, add enough water to make a stock, cook for a few minutes, add a handful of chopped parsley. It’s great with matzo balls!

    • gfy says...

      Me too! I use it especially on potato’s and chickpeas. The go to chickpea recipe is: open two cans of drained org chickpeas (often save one can of the water for aquafaba useage), top with fresh water to just cover and cook about 2o mins until super soft and the water is almost all gone but still soupy at the bottom. Then add an enhanced vinegrette: tons of olive oil, small splash of brown rice vinegar, generous salt/pepper, drop of agave, generous coconut aminos, chile flakes, cumin, coriander powder, garlic and onion powder, and then nutritional yeast which adds so much umami and makes the vinegrette into a light sauce This comes together quickly and has become a go-to comfort meal for all times of the day. Use it to top a salad or put an egg on top.

    • Lauren says...

      Bring your nutritional yeast to the movie theater and pour it liberally over your buttered popcorn – best treat ever!

    • Avigail says...

      YES NUTRITIONAL YEAST! Love it or hate it! My husband gets totally disgusted that I use it in everything but I can’t stop! Pour hot sauce over popcorn and sprinkle with yeast. Yeast and McCormick’s BBQ spice on roasted potatoes is like smoky and cheesy! Roasted broccoli with garlic and yeast!

      Def gotta have it in the house.

  88. Betsy says...

    Always: frozen corn, jars of homemade frozen bone broth, canned diced tomatoes, gobs of unsalted butter, red wine, garlic, and onions. (The working theory is I’m never short the ingredients for a crock of soup, and if I’m caught off guard by company, “You can always put more water in the soup!”)

  89. R says...

    Happy new year COJ :)

    I love food and I love lists :D

    Here goes mine:
    At least one kind of Grain (Rice/Quinoa)
    At least one kind of Fat (Olive Oil/Butter/Sesame Oil)
    At least one of Frozen veg (Peas/Corn/Broccoli)
    At least one kind of Pasta/Noodles
    At least one kind of Cheese
    At least one kind of Canned beans (Cannelloni /Black/Garbanzo)
    Something zingy and fresh – Lime/Lemon/Herbs

    This was fun..and I am hungry now lol

    • This is a good list. I like the grain/fat/pasta/veg categories. It’s how I make dinner: what do I have that’s filling? What am I going to cook in in? What am I going to cook with it?
      I would sub garlic or onion for the lime/lemon/herbs because I have more herbs than I can use in my garden all year.
      And eggs. So many possibilities.

  90. Welcome back!! We missed you Cup of Jo!

    My mother used to keep semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer and I would sneak them for snacks all the time.

    I would add cheese! Any kind of cheese.

  91. Maggie says...

    Thank you, Jenny! I love your blog and your books (and your Cup of Jo posts) – they have been so helpful to my family with our two little kids and two parents who work outside the home!

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      That’s so nice, thank you Maggie! Glad they’ve been helpful.

  92. Mallory Schulte says...

    Would love to hear more about how to use harissa and miso! I would add the following ingredients:
    1. Peanut Butter – because nothing will cure hanger quite like a spoonful of peanut butter.
    2. Onions – a caramelized onion can transform everything – pizza, tacos, pasta, risotto, lentils, the list goes on
    3. Sweet Potatoes – I do not think there is a greater kitchen work horse than this. Easily transformed into so many delicious meals!


    • Blythe says...

      That recipe sounds delicious, thank you for sharing! I’m going to make it this week.

  93. Toun says...

    Totally agree with many ingredients on yout list.
    About canned cheakpeas, I have just discovered aquafaba. Aquafaba is the name of a water in which chickpeas are cooked. The aquafaba has an ability to mimic the properties of egg whites, and can therefore be used to replace egg whites in some recipes.
    I would add already-made puff pastry.

  94. DC says...

    I have all the items on your list although the beans are for our dog.

    Lemons are number one on my list, when life gives you lemons, you can brighten any dish. I have several naked lemons on my counter right now—that zest goes in everything. :)

    Canned tomatoes, olive oil, salad greens, rice noodles, peanut butter, maple syrup, tamari sauce, eggs and hot sauce.

  95. selby says...

    another avocado toast idea: mash the avocado on toast, drizzle some honey, add a coarse sea salt.

    • Whitney says...

      This is my favorite combination! I tried this at OWL Bakery in Asheville NC and never looked back. If you can get your hands on some smoked salt -even better!

    • Sarah says...

      Honey and avocado?? This sounds both strange and delicious, I can’t wait to try it! :)

    • Maria Parramore says...

      Oooh. I’m trying this ASAP.

  96. Margoulette says...

    Great post! Most of all of the above, plus organic cherry tomatoes, Wasa bread, goat cheese, Tamari and real Dijon mustard (I can always wisk some quick mayo if I’m out). Def. have to look into Wontons.