Tips from the Harmons Dietitians and Chefs

May 21, 2020
| Created by Harmons

A well-stocked pantry is any cook’s dream, but it is not easy to do at the best of times. In our current situation, the idea might seem overwhelming. But we believe now is the perfect time, especially if you consider the fact we can’t and aren’t eating out as much, and guidelines are still calling for limiting grocery store trips to once every two weeks.

To make stocking your pantry easy, we consulted with Harmons dietitians and chefs, and they came up with a great pantry shopping list. For your ease, we’ve made this into a graphic you can save on your phone or a document you can just print out and take with you to the store.

We realize that cooking skill levels vary, so with that in mind we’ve divided the list into three categories: 

  1. Pantry Basics (all skill levels)
  2. Pantry Basics (additional items for intermediate and expert cooks)
  3. Pantry Basics (additional items for expert cooks)

The first list is an overall pantry list, and they build on each other from there, with additional items for both intermediate and expert cooks. 

We’ve included a printable chart that you can download below, or you can continue on and read the information in this blog post.

Important Notes

Each list is organized by food groups. A balanced meal should always have a protein plus two additional food groups. We also have a category for condiments and sauces, which are the bridge that turn ingredients into meals. Dividing out your list this way ensures you have a variety of options to put together endless permutations of foods to create unique, delicious, and satisfying meals.

We consider your “pantry” to include your fridge and freezer. Your personal list will need to be customized based on your storage space, family size, and other considerations such as allergies, likes and dislikes, and nutritional needs.

Remember, especially for intermediate and advanced cooks, there are so many options for every item. You can choose what you like and want to cook with. Take for example vinegar. You could choose balsamic, white wine, red wine, rice, apple cider, champagne, or white. That might seem overwhelming, but if you need help choosing a kind or a brand or just have general questions, you can email our team at One of our dietitians can help you pick the right item for the recipe you want to make, as well as offering advice on how to work with food allergies or nutritional needs. 

Protein/Dairy: Eggs, yogurt (plain for sauces, marinades), milk or an alternative, canned and refried beans, peanut butter, walnuts, almonds, canned tuna, frozen/canned chicken, ground beef, turkey, chicken, sausages. 

Grain/Starch: Cold cereal, oats, whole grain pancake mix, crackers, pasta (one long, one short), long grain white and brown rice, white and sweet potatoes, bread, corn tortillas, frozen/canned peas, frozen/canned corn, granola bars, popcorn. 

Fruits/Veggies: Apples, bananas, oranges, lemons, limes, frozen berries, frozen mangos, raisins, dried apricots, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, carrots, lettuce, winter squash.

Condiment/Sauce/Flavorings: Olive oil, butter, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, ground cumin, granulated garlic, dried thyme, dried basil, honey, maple syrup, mustard, hot sauce, soy sauce, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, chocolate chips, brown sugar, granulated sugar, leavening agents (baking soda, baking powder, yeast), vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salsa, simmer sauces (eg. curry) or seasoning packs (pot roast, taco, etc.).

Protein/Dairy: Dried lentils, dried black beans, dried garbanzo beans, whole beef roast, pork roast, whole chicken, frozen fish fillets, tofu, pancetta/bacon, sardines in oil, pine nuts, tahini, pepitas, pistachios. 

Grain/Starch: Quinoa, farro, barley, whole grain flour, wild rice, couscous, pad thai noodles, spring roll wrappers, panko bread crumbs. 

Fruit/Veggie: Peppers, mushroom, avocado, broccoli, jalapenos, root vegetables, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, other favorite fresh herbs, pineapple, melon.

Condiment/Sauce/Flavorings: Coconut milk, ginger, paprika, cayenne powder, fruit chutneys, fig jam, dark baking chocolate, curry paste, toasted sesame oil, Worcestershire, rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, olives, capers, stronger cheeses like feta, goat, and blue. 

Protein/Dairy: Whole fish, tempeh, chorizo.

Grain/Starch: Arborio rice, barley, spelt.

Fruits/Veggies: Dried chilis like ancho and arbol, jackfruit, shallots.

Condiment/Sauce/Flavorings: Fish sauce, miso paste, harissa paste, kimchi, cornichons, oyster sauce, aged artisan cheeses (Gruyère, Swiss, etc.).

How to Store Your Produce

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average American family of four throws out $1,600 a year in produce. That’s a lot of waste. In order to cut back on that, and make things easier for you, we’ve created a chart that details how to store your produce, which you can download by clicking on the button below. You can hang it on your fridge, take it with you to the grocery store, and use it in your meal-planning.

To ensure you eat what you buy before it goes bad, you need to know how long it will last and where to store it for maximum shelf life. it

Produce Storage Quick Tips

  • Store bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, lemons, and limes in a cool, dry place.
  • Garlic and onions should be kept at room temperature (or cooler) in a well-ventilated area.
  • Mangos, plums, peaches, and pears can be ripened at room temperature in a brown paper bag and then refrigerated for longer storage.
  • Keep whole melons at room temperature. They will ripen quickly and can then be refrigerated.
  • Store apples, berries, and most other fruits in the fridge. Use plastic bags with tiny vents to store grapes, blueberries, cherries, or strawberries. They help keep produce fresh longer by releasing moisture.
  • Asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Store carrots in the refrigerator.
  • Wash fresh heads of lettuce thoroughly, dry the leaves, and store them in the refrigerator in a clean plastic bag with a few paper towels.
  • Rhubarb should be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge, but it also freezes well.
  • Most fruits and veggies can be frozen (preserving them at their peak maturity and nutritional quality). 
  • You should NOT freeze: artichokes, Belgian endive, eggplant, lettuce greens, potatoes (other than mashed), radishes, sprouts, and sweet potatoes.
  • Apples, avocado, ripe bananas, cabbage, eggplant, lettuce, melons, mangos, mushrooms, nectarines, onions, pears, peaches, plums, squash, and tomatoes all produce a chemical called ethylene as they ripen. They should be stored apart from other produce, so they won’t cause it to ripen and go bad too quickly.