How to Stock and Store Dry Goods, Canned Goods, and Condiments

A kitchen that's well stocked with dry goods, canned goods, and condiments can often make the difference between cooking a leisurely meal at home and making a mad dash to the grocery store. This list shows basic ingredients to keep on hand. Select those ingredients that you use on a regular basis, and round it out with others that you love. Take special note of where to store each item and the recommended storage time. You'll be surprised how easy it will be to cook a meal when you stock the right ingredients.

Smart Shopping

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Adopt these organizational strategies so your pantry is always stocked with the foods you use most often.

  • Keep a running grocery list of what you need. Post it in the kitchen so it's handy to write down items as they run low.
  • Think ahead about which meals you will be cooking the following week. Prepare a menu and add any ingredients you will need to your list.
  • Watch newspaper ads and inserts for weekly specials and manufacturer coupons so you can shop and save money at the same time.
  • Plan your shopping trip when the market isn't overcrowded. This will allow you plenty of time to read nutritional labels and seek out new foods to try.
  • Purchase in small quantities so your food is always fresh.
  • Consider purchasing shortcut items, such as a rotisserie chicken, frozen meatballs, and pizza shells, that can shave time off your meal preparation.
  • When you return from shopping, take time to clean out your cupboards and refrigerator. Dispose of any dated items.

Storage Tips

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  • Don't leave ingredients such as flour and brown sugar in their original packaging. Transfer them to see-through containers that will keep ingredients fresh and help you easily identify the contents.
  • Store canned foods and other shelf-stable items in a cool, dry place. Never put them above the stove, under the sink, or in a damp garage or basement.
  • Place similar ingredients within close proximity of each other. Store all the dry ingredients together. Store canned goods, such as chicken broth and tomatoes, together as well.
Food Item Where to Store Storage Time
Baking powder Cupboard 6 months after opening
Baking soda                     Cupboard 6 months after opening
Bread crumbs (dry) Cupboard 6 months after opening
Broth or bouillon granules Unopened: cupboard Check expiration date
(beef, chicken, vegetable) Opened: refrigerator  
Chocolate Cupboard 1 year
(cocoa powder, semisweet, chocolate pieces, unsweetened)    
Cupboard 6 months; freeze for up to 1 year
Cornstarch Cupboard 2 years after opening
Couscous Cupboard 2 years
Flour (all-purpose white) Airtight container 1 year
Fruit, canned Cupboard 1 year unopened
Garlic (bulb) Cool, dry place 1 month
Ketchup Refrigerator 6 months after opening
Maple syrup Refrigerator 1 year after opening
Mustard Refrigerator 6 months
(Dijon-style, yellow)    
Nonstick cooking spray Cupboard Check expiration date
Nuts Freezer 8 months
(almonds, cocktail peanuts, pecans, walnuts)    
Oats (quick cooking, rolled) Airtight container 6 months; freeze for up to 1 year
Oils (olive, vegetable)                      Cupboard 6 months
Onions Cool, ventilated place Several weeks
(yellow or white and red)    
Pasta, dried Cupboard 2 years
Peanut butter Cupboard
2 months after opening
Potatoes Cool, ventilated place Several weeks
Rice Cupboard
2 years
(converted brown and white, long grain white, rice mixes, wild)    
Roasted red sweet peppers Refrigerator 2 weeks after opening
Salsa Refrigerator 1 month after opening
Soy sauce Refrigerator 1 year after opening
Spaghetti sauce Refrigerator 2 weeks after opening
Sugar Cupboard
brown: 4 months; granulated/powdered: 18 months
(brown, granulated, powdered)    
Tomatoes, canned Cupboard 1 year unopened
(diced, stewed, whole, tomato paste, tomato sauce)    
Tomatoes Refrigerator 1 month after opening
(dried, oil packed)    
Vegetable shortening Cupboard 6 months after opening
Vegetables, canned Cupboard
1 year unopened
Vinegar Cupboard
(balsamic, cider, distilled red or white)    
Worcestershire sauce Refrigerator Check expiration date
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