Best Pantry and Kitchen Staples

Stock your kitchen for success, easy meal prep, and healthy choices

I often get asked how I manage so many healthy meals and snacks, or whip up yummy smoothies on the spot for the family.

Why is it so easy for you? How do you do it?

Well, it’s not easy or effortless, but it takes planning. I need to ensure that I stock up on fresh weekly produce and that my pantry has all that I need for delicious and easy cooking. Once you check this list of best pantry items and kitchen staples, clean and healthy home cooking will be within your reach, too! Below you will find my tips for organizing, free printable pantry labels, and how to get bargain priced items at bulk from Thrive Market.

lentil tabbouli

It’s not magic. I need to be 100% transparent and say healthy and clean eating has been a journey for me. So start by taking simple steps you know that you can manage. Do not simply buy everything on this list and expect a magical shift in your lifestyle. Slowly start incorporating a few of these items at a time and use them. Then expand from there.

First I started to eliminate canned foods from my grocery shopping and cooking. Instead I would cook beans fresh from their dried version in my Instant Pot. The taste has been completely worth it alone, let aside the health benefits. Then I started buying tomatoes in a jar or box instead of cans. Eventually, I started making my own tomato sauces from scratch!

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black eyed peas

I also shifted to buying my pantry items in bulk, without the packaging of plastic, bags, and cardboard. Not only does this cut down on environmental waste, which one should feel great about, but the ingredients are usually more fresh and better tasting too. A huge bonus is that you also save money buying items in bulk, without the packaging.

I highly recommend storage containers because cardboard boxes from the grocery store often carry feces or insect eggs that you do not want to set into your pantry. I know this because I had an unfortunate infestation in my cupboards one day and learned from pest control about this common problem. GROSS!

You’ll need to set yourself up with some glass or plastic canisters. I save plenty of large glass jars and repurpose them. I also buy some air tight containers for my grains and more perishable items. I love the Oxo containers below available on Amazon. I absolutely love these containers because I can add more as I need them and they ALL stack over one another. I get the short and wide containers for all my cereal, granola, and oatmeal toppings like chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other small nuts or grains.

If you are looking to invest in some timeless quality storage, check out the extensive line on I especially love these large containers for cereals, oats, flours, and brown sugar. I find that these are truly superior at keeping food fresh and air tight.

Finally you can label all of your lovely jars with these labels that I created. They are available for you to download and print for free. I simply printed the labels onto clear sticker sheets by Silhouette from Amazon.

kushary set up

So what do I buy? These are items I recommend you start stocking up in your pantry so that fresh, flavorful cooking, meal prep, and snacks are always easily at your fingertips! Many pantry items such as the grains, nuts, and seeds are automatically shipped to me at a bargain price from You can save 25% when you shop using my link here.

chocolate peanut butter protein shake
  1. Seeds, nuts, dried fruit for cereal, hot cereal, smoothie, and even salad toppings. Examples of what we always like to keep include:
    • pumpkin and sunflower seeds
    • almonds
    • pistachios
    • dried cranberries or raisins
    • chia seeds
    • hemp seeds.
  2. Super food ingredients to keep on hand to sprinkle into cereals, salads, baked goodies, or smoothies such as:
    • cacao nibs
    • maca powder
    • camu camu powder
    • Acai powder
    • chia seeds
    • hemp seeds
    • spirulina
    • ground flax seed
  3. Grains and flours for baking and meal prep needs such as:
    • quick oats
    • steel cut oats
    • rolled oats (I use these for baking muffins for the kids)
    • barley
    • brown rice (a healthier option to go along veggie dishes and stews)
    • long grain or basmati rice (my go to for vermicelli rice alongside many stews)
    • Egyptian rice (small grain rice mostly used for stuffing veggies or my fish rice recipe)
    • bulgur wheat (used often in place of rice and cooks in 5 minutes)
    • semolina flour (many Middle Eastern desserts)
    • all purpose flour
    • pastry flour (my go to for cookies, muffins, and brownies)
    • almond flour
    • Cassava flour (delicious gluten free option)
  4. Beans and legumes
    • green or brown lentils
    • red lentils (my kids’ absolute favorite!)
    • black beans
    • chickpeas ( I use them in almost any dish or salad)
    • fava beans
    • black eyed peas
  5. Butters and oils for meals and baking
    • pure olive oil for high temperature cooking (it has a higher smoke point than extra virgin)
    • Sunflower oil or canola oil (for high temp cooking)
    • extra virgin olive oil for salads and sauces
    • coconut oil (unrefined and cold pressed)
    • Kerrygold or Organic Valley Pasture raised butter (best flavor!)
    • peanut butter for snacks and lunch
    • almond butter for snacks and lunch
  6. Spices and flavor: I love my spices to be kept fresh (under 6 months old) and purchased from a high quality source. I rely on Penzey spices or my local spice shop for the best quality.
  • Essential spices and vinegars I use for flavoring include:
    • balsamic vinegar for delicious pasta sauces and vinaigrettes
    • white vinegar for many recipes (and cleaning!)
    • Himalayan pink salt or kosher salt
    • black peppercorns and a grinder (fresher taste)
    • cumin powder or seeds with a grinder
    • ground coriander
    • cinnamon
    • ground cardamom and cardamom pods
    • cloves
    • allspice
    • ginger
    • cayenne pepper
    • chili powder
    • garlic powder
    • sumac powder
    • bay leaves
    • anise seed
    • vanilla paste or powder (Nielssen Massey is my go to)
  • Produce and fresh ingredients vary based on the season. I will suggest to always keep the following items on hand for fresh Mediterranean meals always on the menu. These are also items I strive to grow in my own home garden. I cannot go without:
    • bell peppers
    • tomatoes
    • cucumbers
    • olives
    • either eggplant, mushrooms, squashes, or cauliflower weekly
    • parsley
    • dill
    • mint
    • cilantro
    • yellow and red onions
    • garlic (of course!)
    • ginger root (peel this and keep it in your freezer)
    • turmeric root (peel and mince this and keep in freezer)
    • lemon (a LOT)
    • lime