Basic Foods for Cupboard, Fridge and Freezer

Basis foods for cupboard, refrigerator and freezer
Alice Henneman, MS, RDN, UNL Extension in Lancaster County

  • Are you tired of all the planning, hunting and gathering needed to find the ingredients required for many recipes?
  • Would you like to go to your cupboard, refrigerator or freezer and already have most—if not all—the ingredients needed to make a meal?

The list below of foods can be combined and recombined in a variety of new, delicious (and nutritious!) ways. They are offered as a starter list to help you begin developing a list that works for you. Or, use the following link to print a PDF copy:

Click here to download a 1-page grocery list of basic foods to have on hand

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  • Cross out those that don't work for you.
  • Make your own personalized list!

These foods are definitely NOT the only foods we should eat. They were picked because they're commonly available and mix and match with a variety of other foods. Think of them as a basic wardrobe to which any number of clothing items can be added.

FRUITS: FRESH, CANNED, FROZEN, DRIED

Fresh

  • Apples
  •  Bananas
  •  Grapes, seedless
  •  Oranges

Canned

  • Oranges, mandarin
  • Pineapple, canned in juice (pineapple tidbits are a versatile form)

Frozen

  • Berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

Dried

  • Raisins, dried cranberries, etc.

Other

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VEGETABLES: FRESH, CANNED, FROZEN

Fresh

  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage, shredded (may wish to buy smallest package size if cooking for just a few people)
  • Lettuce, darker green varieties (Romaine, green leafy, etc.)
  • Onion (sweet onions may be especially versatile if buying only an onion or two weekly; they—re said to be less likely to make you cry and go well in many recipes)
  • Potatoes (white and sweet)
  • Tomatoes (cherry and grape tomatoes tend to have the best flavor when other tomatoes are out-of-season)

Canned

  • Corn (no-salt-added forms available)
  • Tomatoes, diced (no-salt-added forms available)

Frozen

  • Corn
  • Peas

Other

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BREAD, CEREALS AND OTHER GRAIN PRODUCTS

  • Bread, whole wheat (can purchase low sodium forms at some stores)
  • Cereal (whole grain)
  • Crackers (look for varieties that are whole grain and lower in salt)
  • Oatmeal (—Old-fashioned— oatmeal is very versatile -- simply pulse it a few times in a blender if a recipe calls for —quick oats.—)
  • Pasta (consider whole grain varieties)
  • Rice (include some whole grain rice, such as brown rice)

Other

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MEAT, POULTRY, FISH, DRY BEANS, EGGS AND NUTS

  • Beans, canned or dry, such as Great Northern, navy, kidney, red, black, pinto beans, etc. (check for "no-salt-added" canned varieties)
  • Beef, ground, 90-95% lean
  • Chicken breast, skinless
  • Eggs, large ("large" is suggested as many recipes are designed for use with this size)
  • Fish (frozen fish fillets lend themselves to many quick meals; thaw overnight in the refrigerator in original package on a plate on bottom shelf for easy use the next day)
  •  Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, etc.
  • Peanut butter
  • Pork loin chops, boneless
  • Salmon (consider including canned and frozen forms of salmon in a basic stock of foods; canned salmon is available in water pack varieties and may be found canned without the skin, if desired.)
  • Tuna, canned (water pack and low sodium varieties are available)
  • Turkey cutlets

Other

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MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS

  • Cheese, cheddar and/or other favorite varieties
  • Ice cream or frozen yogurt, low fat or fat-free
  • Milk, low fat or fat-free
  • Yogurt, low fat or fat-free (vanilla-flavored yogurt is especially versatile or add your own sweetener and vanilla to plain yogurt, if desired.)

Other

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OILS AND FOODS THAT ARE MAINLY OIL

  •  Extra virgin olive oil for dressings, dipping and drizzling
  • Mayonnaise-type salad dressing (light and low fat forms available)
  • Other oil for cooking: canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower
  • Soft (tub or squeeze) margarine with no trans fats

Other

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SEASONINGS

  • Black pepper (consider freshly ground black pepper)
  • Chicken broth, low sodium
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic, fresh or dry (minced or powdered)
  • Italian seasoning (can be used as a quick seasoning for salad dressings, soups, rubs for
  • meat, etc.)
  • Mustard, Dijon-type (can find no-salt-added forms in some stores)
  • Rosemary, dried leafy (crush slightly right before using to release added flavor in recipes; an inexpensive mortar and pestle works well for this)
  • Thyme, dried leafy (see note by rosemary on crushing just before using in recipes)
  • Vanilla
  • Vinegar (consider vinegars such as balsamic, red wine, cider, and white wine or rice vinegar -- start with a small bottle and see which you use the most; vinegar easily lasts at least a year)

Other

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SUGARS AND SWEETS

Sugar, white granulated
Sugar, brown

Other

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