Keeping an array of spices that you like will help you turn a boring meal into something that will go on your favorites list. Dry herbs and spices should be kept somewhere VERY dry, cool, and dark.
Dry Legumes and Rice
These are always good to have around – whether you need rice because you just had an extra four people show up for dinner or you want to make some beans without all the salt (canned beans are notoriously salty). Keeping a stash of these in a cool dry place brings a healthy side dish (or even the main star!) to your plate.
Nuts and Seeds
These are great to add a little texture to your meal. Toss into a stew, on top of a salad, or add to muffins for some crunch. Be careful about storing nuts and seeds. They should be kept in an airtight container and never for too long. Lots of other creatures (mice and ants) LOVE these pantry staples too.
When you need to use canned goods in your cooking be sure to choose the highest quality that you can. Sometimes cans are made out of less than desirable components so be sure and read the labels about what’s IN the can and what the can itself is made of.
Flours and Sweeteners
These pantry staples should also be kept in airtight containers. Look for a mix of flour types, not just white flour. You can substitute almond flour in bakery as well as garbanzo flour for things like pizza dough. Keep a selection on hand so that you can see which ones your family likes best. The same goes for sweeteners, there are so many kinds and each has their own distinct flavor. Choose a variety based on your diet – Stevia, sugar, honey, agave, etc.
Most condiments go into the refrigerator once they are opened but many start out in the pantry. Having an assortment can save you when surprise company shows up at your house. Stock a sampling of olives, capers, pickled peppers, and artichoke hearts and you’ll be able to whip up an expert antipasto plate at a moments notice. Next time you order one at a restaurant, look at the components and stock up next time you’re at the store. Also keep backups of things you use a lot like ketchup, mustard, and oils.