The benefits of having a well-stocked pantry are many. Chief among them is the fact that with a little creativity, a healthy, home-cooked dinner is often only 20 minutes away. Also, a little pre-planning can do wonders for your bottom line. Generally speaking, most pantry items (even the fancy, organic, non-GMO, non-everything ones) are still cheaper than ordering Seamless, making them a good investment for your body, as well as your wallet.

Now, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t tell you that the majority of your diet should come from fresh veggies, and, if you swing that way, organic meats and proteins. But it can be a stretch to load up on enough produce to get you through the week, especially if you don’t live in a big city. This is where your pantry comes in. Think of it as you do your bar cart. You want to have all the classics, a couple exotic treats, and a few splurge items for special occasions. But mostly, it’s all about convenience, consistency and deliciousness.

Join us as we walk you through the most critical items for the ultimate pantry.


GRAIN AND BEAR IT
The best way to organize your grains is by cooking time. For nights when you are half dead and need something (anything!) to EQ your blood sugar, it’s best to go with quick-cooking pastas, like elbow macaroni and linguine. If you have a bit more time on your hands, consider getting some organic brown rice, which takes longer to cook, but is much easier to digest. And for date night, you can never go wrong with some imported Arborio rice for whipping up a perfect risotto.


SPICE WORLD
Thomas Keller, recognized as one of the greatest chefs in the world, insists that delicious food is about one thing and one thing only: seasoning. When curating your pantry, we recommend investing in flavor boosters that you will use for every meal, like sea salt, garlic powder, dried herbs like parsley or basil, and most importantly, the best cayenne pepper you can afford. Unlike fine wines, spices do not improve with age, so be sure to splurge for a new set every nine months or so.


OILED UP
Fat makes everything taste better. But not all fats are created equal. For everyday cooking, we recommend a decent-quality extra-virgin olive oil, or some organic coconut oil. Both can withstand the high heats associated with grilling and sauteing, and are way better for you than generic vegetable oil. In addition to oils for grilling, you should also have a fancy bottle of finishing oil for drizzling on salads, vegetables and soft cheeses. Avocado oil is perfect for this.


SOUR POWER
When it comes down to it, you only really need three vinegars in your pantry. The first should be a top-quality balsamic, for that sweet and sour vibe. The next should be an organic apple cider vinegar. And the last should be a generic, all purpose white vinegar, which is perfect for pickling. The best news? You only need to spend good money on a killer balsamic, which should run you about $25. The rest can all be had for under five bucks.


CAN IT
Canned food isn’t just for doomsday preppers. Turns out, with a little imagination (and a lot of the aforementioned pantry goods like spices, oils and vinegars), you can easily take your canned goods on an express trip to Flavor Town, sans Guy Fieri. For everyday meals, we highly recommend stocking up on garbanzo beans (perfect for hummus), San Marzano tomatoes (pasta sauce) and coconut milk (curries).