Cooking

How to Stock Your Pantry with One Trip to Trader Joe's

And do it for less than it costs to order Seamless
The Best Trader Joe's Pantry Staples
Photos: Delia Mooney

Open my cabinet any day of the week, and you'll find shelves stocked with pantry items from Trader Joe's. Spices, oils, vinegars, dry goods—I have everything I need to whip up a meal in no time.

And you should follow my lead. The budget-friendly grocery store has everything you need to get going, even if you're starting from scratch, and with the decent prices, you can knock out your entire list and still have money left for a bottle (or two) of Two-Buck Chuck.

Whether you just moved into a new apartment or are looking to replenish your stash of oils and vinegars, here are 10 items from Trader Joe's to get your started.

  • Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil ($5.50)

    Olive oil is one of the most versatile ingredients to have in your pantry: Use it for sautéing, marinating and making dressings. You won't find an olive oil or extra-virgin olive oil over $10 here, which means more money to spend on tasty TJ's snacks. Plus, the bottle contains around 17 fluid ounces, so it lasts for what feels like forever.

  • Sea Salt ($2)

    It's the most basic staple to have on hand but probably the most useful. This one has a built-in grinder, so you'll have freshly ground sea salt with every use.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar ($2.50)

    Never underestimate the power of apple cider vinegar. Not only does it work miracles in dressings and marinades, it reportedly has many health benefits as well.

  • Tomato Paste ($1.50)

    This ingredient is a secret weapon in many dishes like braised short ribs, Bolognese and even chili. Since it's unlikely you'll use a whole tube at once, check out these suggestions for what to do with leftover tomato paste.

  • Organic Sprouted Tricolor Quinoa ($3)

    By keeping your pantry packed with grains and pastas, you can whip up dinner faster than Giada can say spaghetti. Take your pick of rices, pastas or other staples, like this blend of red, white and black quinoa.

  • Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce ($3)

    This mustard-based sauce can handle getting slathered on ribs, grilled meats, and tops of burgers and sandwiches. No one has to know that your "secret sauce" comes from a bottle.

  • Crushed Plum Tomatoes ($1.50)

    With a can of crushed tomatoes, the recipe opportunities are endless. With a little seasoning, you can transform these crushed tomatoes into a delicious pasta sauce or weeknight turkey chili in a snap.

  • Solid White Tuna ($2)

    A can of tuna can be used for just about anything: to fill out a quick sandwich for lunch, top a salad or mix in with your favorite pasta. Plus, when it comes time to pay the rent, you can still be eating like a king.

  • Habanero Hot Sauce ($3)

    A little hot sauce can go a long way. And it's one of those simple ingredients that can make a good dish great. Depending on how spicy you like it, add a couple drops to your eggs, stir-fries, tacos and even cocktails.

  • Organic Black Beans ($1)

    There is so much you can do with just one can of black beans: add extra protein to a salad, make a Tex-Mex dip or simply heat them for a few minutes on the stove and serve as an easy side with tacos.

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