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15 Items You Should Always Stock in Your Pantry

Begone, dinnertime disasters! Having this collection of pantry staples at the ready will ensure that a delicious meal makes it on the table—no matter what.

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Diced Tomatoes

With their fragile skins and watery seeds, tomatoes are a pain to cut. Reduce the prep time on any recipe that includes this juicy red produce (like delicious Italian Pot Roast) by stocking up on convenient canned diced tomatoes.

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Mixed Veggies

Frozen mixed veggies come in many assortments: classic, stir-fry, Italian-style, southwest—you name it. Any of these tasty variations is handy when you’re looking to make your quick dish a little healthier. (These recipes make frozen vegetables taste almost fresh!)

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Broths aren’t just for wintertime soups. Keep a stash of chicken, vegetable and beef broths year-round for flavoring meats (like these slow-cooked ribs), pastas and casseroles.

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Any dish becomes heartier with the addition rice—whether it’s white, brown or wild. And rice is just about the easiest side ever. Simply shake on a mix of your favorite seasonings, and you’ll be scraping your plate. (Here’s how to make perfect rice.)

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We love potatoes in every form (especially grilled in this kabobs recipe). Plus, with potatoes, you needn’t take up any precious refrigerator space. Store the nifty favorites in a paper bag and place in a cool (not cold) place.

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Beans really are the magic fruit. By keeping a couple cans in your pantry, you have access to an inexpensive source of protein at all times. We suggest stowing cannellini, kidney, black, navy and garbanzo beans. Then go to town on these budget-friendly dishes that all start with a can of beans.

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Penne, spaghetti, bowtie, rotini—the options are limitless (find all the shapes here). Stockpile whichever type you prefer for an easy entree or side. (Psst! We recommend keeping some Asian varieties, like ramen and egg noodles, too.)

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Pile meatballs onto your favorite pasta dish for an instantly heartier dinner. Not a fan of Italian food? Don’t worry—meatballs aren’t just for marinara! In fact, they’re handy to have for all types of cuisines—just try the Easy Sweet-and-Sour Meatballs.

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Consider keeping cans of these golden kernels in your cupboard or a bag of the veggie in your freezer. Both options are a fantastic year-round substitute for everyone’s favorite summertime treat. (These skillet nachos are a go-to!)

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Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce is an obvious necessity for quick-prep pasta dinners, but it’s also a valuable ingredient to have on hand for dishes like meat loaves, sandwiches and even soups. We especially love it in this chunky turkey chili recipe.

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Like potatoes, most varieties of this veggie don’t require refrigeration, but they do pack a punch of flavor. Red onions, white onions, yellow onions, sweet onions and shallots are all meal-makers. (Pro tip: Here’s how to cut an onion without crying.)

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Although eggs need to be stored in the fridge (fun fact: Europeans keep their eggs on the counter), they’re worth the space. Eggs can be used as binders in items like meatballs, as a thickener in sauces and custards, or simply as a dish on their own.

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Canola Oil

Thanks to its high smoke point, smoothness and mild flavor, canola oil is the most versatile variety of oil and therefore, the best to keep close by. Plus, it’s better for you than the others because it has a low amount of saturated fat! (Read up on the other kinds of oils here.)

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chicken of the seaTaste of Home


You can’t store fresh chicken in your pantry, so the next best thing is storing the chicken of the sea. Canned tuna, which is typically white albacore tuna, is tasty in salads, casseroles, sandwiches and other family favorites. (Cook up this 5-star tuna casserole.)

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Cider Vinegar

Not only is cider vinegar useful for adding tang to sandwiches, salads and even some desserts, but it is also great for household cleaning and beauty care (learn about some of cider vinegar’s unexpected benefits here). You can’t beat that!

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Note: Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Annamarie Higley
Annamarie Higley is an Associate Print Editor for Taste of Home magazine, as well as the brand's special issue publications. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, trivia-ing, and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.