Basic Foods for Cupboard, Fridge and Freezer: Create Your Own List!


Alice Henneman, MS, RD, UNL Extension in Lancaster Countyfood cabinet

  • 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

  • Add your own favorites.
  • 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.

See recipes made from Basic Foods for Cupboard, Fridge and Freezer List

Lower fat and sodium forms of foods are mentioned in this list for use as desired.

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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