My dream pantry
These first few items are the essential six staples to always have on hand
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
White Granulated Sugar
Low sodium chicken and beef broths are best to keep around because they let you control the seasoning as needed. I try to buy low sodium beans, too. Make sure to have the non seasoned tomato sauces (not Italian or Mexican style) because seasoning from the spice rack can be added unless the recipe calls for the seasoned tomatoes specifically.
Can/jar of marinara sauce
Canned beans: white, black, kidney
Starches and Dry Goods
From the list below make sure you stock up on the items you like. I personally cook with penne or short pasta more than spaghetti because it's easier for me to eat without getting it all over myself.
Penne or other short pasta
Long-grain white rice
Jasmine or basmati rice
Dried bread crumbs
Orzo (short rice-looking pasta)
I have always heard that onions and potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area—not in plastic bags or in the refrigerator, so that is how I store mine. I do however keep green onions on hand and they keep best in the fridge in my opinion.
Potatoes (russet, red, or yams (sweet potatoes))
Onions (red or white and green (scallions))
Non Root vegetables but can be stored on the counter
Vinegars (balsamic, cider, white, sherry, and wine vinegars)
Soy sauce (low sodium)
Hot sauce (like Franks® or Tabasco®-red or green)
The Spice Rack
Most of the following spices you can find dried on a spice rack that can be purchased at any home goods store. Prices range from $10-$50, but it's worth getting them all together rather than paying $3-$4 for individual bottles. When I run out, I buy them in bulk at the warehouse store and fill up the bottles in the spice rack.
Crushed red pepper flakes
Fridge essentials (Also known as the 'Man's Fridge' or 'College Fridge')
These items are must-haves in the fridge because they are used in many recipes and dishes.
Butter or margarine
Mustard (Dijon preferably)
Mayonnaise (reduced fat)
Parmesan cheese (good quality wedge of fresh if possible or the graded kind in the canister will work in a pinch)
Other cheese (shredded cheddar, mozzarella, or a shredded mix)
Having a well-stocked freezer will really help you on the nights you need something fast but don't want to go out to a fast food joint.
Frozen cheese tortellini