We get asked this question a lot: what ingredients are considered “basic?” What do I need? What can I substitute? This is a complete pantry (and some fridge) guide, based on the ingredients we use in Dinner Done.
When considering which recipes to include in Dinner Done, one of the questions asked was, “Does it call for pantry ingredients?” We didn’t want the type of recipes where you’d have to buy an ingredient that you might never use any other time. There are some ingredients that are used just once in the book, but they’re basic enough that you’d probably use it other times too. Or, sometimes the ingredient isn’t perishable, so even if it’s just in one recipe you love, it’s worth keeping it on hand so you can use it again and again.
We made a master list so you know just what you need – and what you really don’t.
Proteins and fresh produce are not included in this list.
This list also does not include the ready-made foods (unless used in recipes), and what you “stock” in your pantry will depend on your own family’s preferences.
Master Pantry List (+ Fridge Basics)
Based on ingredients used in Dinner Done By Between Carpools
When ingredients have a number in parenthesis (1x, 2x), it refers to the amount of times an ingredient is used in the book. In general, that means it’s something that you don’t need to keep on hand all the time unless those particular recipes are in your repertoire. They might be staples for some, but not for others.
Lemon Juice/Lime Juice
Orange Juice (7x)
Shredded Cheese (i.e. Mozzarella)
Greek Yogurt (4x)
Freezer: Assorted Frozen Herb Cubes
Flour/Whole Wheat Flour
Bread Products & Breadings:
Crushed Pretzels (1x)
Chicken Consomme/Stock – Whenever this is called for, the cook has multiple options. You can use water and a consomme powder, you can use leftover chicken soup (if you don’t mind if the recipe becomes meat), or you can use stocks that come in a carton.
Onion Soup Mix (4x) – This is used in a limited amount of “quick” recipes where we want a lot of flavor along with convenience.
Mushroom Soup Mix (1x) – This is used in one recipe, but can easily be substituted with any other consomme you have.
Vegetable Stock (1x) – This can easily be substituted with a pareve chicken consomme.
Vinegars & Cooking Wines
Wine and Wine Vinegars are not interchangeable. In general, most recipes that call for balsamic or a wine vinegar will be interchangeable, but the flavor will be different. Rice vinegar (categorized under Asian) is a great substitute for white or apple cider vinegar because it has a very neutral flavor. White Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar / White Wine Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (1x)
White Wine (1x)
Worcestershire Sauce – A tiny bit gives Caesar dressing a zing. If you don’t use Worcestershire in any other recipes, you can substitute with soy sauce.
Asian IngredientsBecause of the popularity of Asian foods, these four ingredients have become standards. Most Asian-style recipes will call for a combination of these. Other Asian ingredients, such as Hoisin Sauce, Miso, or Mirin, while they offer great flavor, are not as common, so we did not use them in Dinner Done recipes.
Some of these are standards in every home, and some you might keep on hand only if your repertoire includes recipes which call for these ready-made ingredients.
Mustard (Yellow, Dijon, Spicy Brown, any type you like)
Peanut Butter or PB2
Duck Sauce (2x)
BBQ Sauce (2x)
Hot Sauce (2x)
Sriracha Sauce (1x)
Sweet Chili Sauce (1x)
Canned (and Dried) Products
Crushed tomatoes can usually be substituted for tomato sauce. Tomato paste can be turned into “sauce” by adding 2 parts water. Whether you stock beans (whether canned or dried) and dried lentils depends on your repertoire. Tuna is not used in Dinner Done, but it’s still a great canned item to have on hand.
Crushed Tomatoes/Tomato Sauce
Diced Tomatoes (1x)
Beans: Chickpeas (3x), Cannellini Beans (1x), (Dried) Red Lentils (1x)
Pasta (different shapes)/ Egg Noodles/ Ramen Noodles
Rice/Brown Rice/Sushi Rice
Farro / Quinoa / Israeli Couscous
In general, nuts are almost always easily swapped for one another in recipes.
Sesame Seeds (used in a variety of dishes)
Slivered or Sliced Almonds
Glazed Pecans (1x)
Black Pepper (fresh ground from a peppermill and/or coarse ground)
Crushed Red Pepper (1x)
Cayenne Pepper (3x)
White Pepper (1x)
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Dried Oregano (1x)
Dried Dill (1x)
Dried Thyme (1x)
Italian Seasoning – A combination of any of the dried herbs above can be used instead.|
Dried Chives (1x)
Fish Seasoning (1x) – Though this is only used in one recipe, it’s a great convenient item to have on hand for when seasoning fish and don’t want to turn to “a recipe.”
Minced Onion/Onion Flakes (2x)
Everything Bagel Spice Mix
Ingredients Used in One/Two Recipes:
These would only be staples if you make the recipes that call for these ingredients often.
Dr. Pepper (1x)
Apricot Jam (2x)
Liquid Smoke (1x)
Truffle Oil (1x, optional)
Ingredients Used Only in Baked Goods/Sweets:
White Chocolate Chips (1x)
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (1x)
Vanilla Sandwich Cookies (1x)
Chocolate Bar (2x)
Chopped Pecans (1x)
Shredded Halva (1x)
Lotus Biscoff Spread (2x)
Confectioners’ Sugar (2x)
Sweetened Peanuts (1x)
Rainbow Sprinkles (1x)
Corn Chex (1x)
Rice Krispies (1x)
Corn Syrup (1x)
Graham Crackers (1x)
Vanilla Pudding Powder (1x)