The Only 10 Ingredients Any Person Needs In Their Pantry

Becoming a decent cook is more achievable than you think.

Last updated on Mar 20, 2024

Woman in kitchen pantry Valerii Honcharuk, pixelshot | Canva 

Ever opened your cupboards and felt overwhelmed? Me too. There are bottles of half-used sauces, plastic boxes in all shapes and sizes, stuff I'll never need again. Forget that! Part of a simple, healthy life is cutting through the clutter, purging the pantry, and purchasing only what's needed. Just the basics. I've done the hard work for you; here are the 10 Pantry Basics you need to make more than a million recipes. (Caveat: From time to time, there will be special things worthy of buying. But for now, throw everything in your fridge, cupboards, and pantry away. Everything. All those half-opened, half-used, long-gone pasta and sauces and plastic bottles. Toss them. Trash them. Then, marvel over your pantry and feel the peace.)


The only 10 ingredients any person needs in their pantry:

1. Honey

Raw honey. It's the primary sweetener used in my recipes. Manuka honey, collected from the bees that pollinate tea tree plants in New Zealand has been touted for its incredible antibacterial benefits. It’s expensive, of course, so if you don't want to front the 25 bucks, buy local raw honey whenever possible. Vegan eaters will want agave or pure maple syrup. I prefer pure maple syrup because the flavor is so, so happy. As a second option for all eaters, I recommend liquid stevia; it's a great way to add a little sweetness to smoothies, coffee, and tea without any of the blood-sugar spikes that happen with most sweeteners.




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2. Soy sauce

Soy Sauce or Tamari if you're gluten-free/paleo.

3. Butter

Grass-fed butter. As a bulletproof believer, I tend to buy Kerrygold whenever possible. Shelf-stable ghee (a flavorful, clarified butter) is also a great option.


4. Chopped garlic

Chopped garlic. I like fresh garlic as much as the next mom, but pre-chopped garlic is a time saver, a cost saver, a smelly finger saver, and a 5 o'clock crazy-saver. Buy it, pop it in your fridge, and consider dinner prep halfway done.

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5. Coconut Oil

Find any type you like; I prefer organic coconut oil. LouAna is cheap or buy it in bulk at Costco. Coconut oil is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, tasty, and ideal for frying or sauteeing meats. It firms up at room temperature, so keep it in the cupboard during the winter but store it in the fridge during the summer. That way it won’t go rancid and you'll have this yummy oil ready to flavor dishes in every season. In my recipes, if melted coconut oil is called for you can zap it quickly in the microwave or melt it over the stove (if you're a no-micro kinda gal).

6. Eggs

Grass-fed Eggs. If you're not on a budget, go organic if possible. No matter how you buy them, an 18-pack of eggs is a must-have for a healthy kitchen. Vegan eaters will want to avoid this one, of course. 


7. Apple Cider Vinegar

Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is my favorite. Buy it in bulk and keep it on hand for marinating, salad dressings, and smoothies. Vinegar is cheap, easy to stock, and offers incredible detoxing/cleansing benefits. Pantry perfection.



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8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Thankfully, organic olive oil isn’t much more than traditional olive oil. If you can, buy it organic. My recipes use olive oil for drizzling, not frying. The smoke point is too low to use in frying & sauteing but the flavor is next to none as a drizzle-sauce.


9. Salt

I highly recommend Maldon sea salt. This flaked, gourmet salt is perfect for everything. It lends a beautiful texture to meats, veggies, and chocolate bark. The flavor is balanced and divine; the price is excellent. You'll always be delighted to open your cupboard and discover this salt.

10. Pepper

Buy a pepper mill and fill it with bulk Black Peppercorns (less waste when you buy it in a bag). I find the peppercorn melange to be odd-tasting at times so stick to black pepper. But if you like the colored peppercorns (they are so pretty, aren't they?) by all means, melange it up.

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Brooke Lark is a photographer, cookbook writer, and founder of LarkXCo Connection Studio — a creative studio in Salt Lake City dedicated to creating content, conversations, and experiences that shift perspective, ignite possibility, and bring real humans together in real ways.