20 essential foods

20 essential foods


A question we are always asking ourselves, whether you’re making lunches, preparing dinners, or thinking about what the kids would like to snack on during their activities. We think about food regularly throughout the day, no matter how busy we are!

How do we keep up?

By always keeping a list of staple items in the pantry!

These essential ingredients can be used with quick recipes to whip up several easy meals when you’re pressed for time.

20 essential foods list


1. Pasta

Ideally, keep two or three types of pasta on hand—spaghetti, fettuccine, macaroni, or penne, for example—, preferably whole-wheat varieties, which contain a lot more fibre and protein than white pasta.

Pasta sauce

2. Pasta sauces

Pressed for time? Sauté some onions, add a protein like chicken or shrimp, and pour in some tomato sauce. Add some fines herbes to the heated sauce and all that’s left to do is cook the pasta!


3. Grains

There is an array of grains to choose from, such as rice, quinoa, barley, couscous, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and teff, all of which are quick and easy to prepare. Like pasta, they are nutritious and extremely versatile. You only need to add some vegetables, a protein, and some spices!

Sauces and condiments

4. Sauces and condiments

Sauces like soy sauce or tamari, spicy sauces (sriracha, tabasco, sambal oelek), and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup are very useful for adding flavour to almost any dish.

Canned foods

5. Canned foods

Tomatoes: the base of many recipes and a valuable ally in the kitchen.

Vegetables: Corn adds a sweet and crunchy touch to salads, and beans complement meals nicely. Although the texture of canned vegetables is slightly different from fresh ones, they are still great for quick meals. Ideally, they should be rinsed before eating to remove a large part of their sodium content.

Legumes: They are high in fibre, low in fat, and a source of plant protein. What’s not to love? Chickpeas can be made into hummus, and lentils are delicious in soups. Roasted soybeans make a great snack.

Canned fish (in water): Canned fish are not only very versatile, but also affordable and nutritious. Try it in a sandwich, salad, or pâté. A great addition to the menu!

Fruits: Focus on fruit canned in their juice or in water and avoid those canned in syrup. Canned fruits can be served as a dessert, as a snack, and to satisfy your sweet tooth!

6. Oils and vinegars

The ideal ingredients for creating homemade vinaigrettes, cooking, or marinating vegetables.

Olive oil is very fragrant. Add some fines herbes or hot peppers to the olive oil to make a delicious garnish for pizza or grilled vegetables.

Canola oil has a more neutral taste than olive oil. It’s a great replacement for butter in dessert and muffin recipes. Canola oil is affordable and has beneficial nutritional properties.

Balsamic vinegar adds acidity and flavour to vinaigrettes.

White vinegar is perfect for macerating cucumbers or onions.

7. Spices

The world of spices is vast, so here’s a little guide:

A fan of Indian cuisine? Go for curry, turmeric, or cumin.

The classics: thyme, oregano, parsley, and basil. These dried herbs are particularly good with chicken, in tomato sauces, or in omelettes.

Do you like warm spices? Always keep cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in your pantry. They can be added to sweet or salty dishes.

Let’s not forget steak spices, which are perfect for seasoning grilled fish and meats.

Breads and cereal

8. Breads and cereal

For a healthy choice, focus on breads that have the words “integral,” “whole,” and “sprouted grains” that appear after “flour” in the ingredients list.


9. Broths

There are three types: beef, chicken, and vegetable. Broth concentrate is a good base for soups and useful for cooking grains (barley, quinoa, or rice). Opt for low-sodium versions as the concentrates contain a lot of salt.


10. Sweeteners

White sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey bring a subtly sweet note to many recipes (even salty ones)!

Rolled oats

11. Bakery goods

Rolled oats

Rolled oats are very practical and mix perfectly into cookie and muffin recipes. Plus, there’s nothing like some good oatmeal to start your day!


When purchasing whole-wheat flour in large amounts, it is best to keep it in the freezer to preserve its nutritional properties.


Dilute with water to thicken any sauce in no time at all.

Baking powder

A leavening agent that goes in almost any cake recipe.

Baking soda

Often put in the refrigerator to eliminate odours, it is a baking essential. Cakes will be fluffier and meringues will turn out perfectly by adding some baking soda.

Vanilla extract

It perfectly flavours many sweet dishes.

Nuts and seeds

12. Nuts and seeds

Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are sensitive to oxidation. Place them in the freezer to keep them fresh.

Dried fruits

13. Dried fruits

They fit perfectly into lunch boxes, contain fibre, and even satisfy your sweet tooth. Mix with some nuts for a well-rounded snack!

butter or margarine

14. Butter or margarine

Both are necessary for cooking, or even just spreading on bread. Margarine stays fresh for a long time in the fridge, and you can keep butter in the freezer to prolong its life.


15. Eggs

Eggs can be cooked in thousands of ways—in a quiche, omelette, hard-boiled, etc.—and make a tasty and nutritious meal. Keep them in their original container.


16. Yogurt

Another great addition to smoothies with some added protein. Mixed in with berries and muesli, yogurt is perfect for breakfast and makes a deliciously energizing snack. It comes in a multitude of flavours and varieties. Greek yogurt has a higher protein content and a smooth, creamy texture. Drinkable yogurts are very handy for an on-the-go snack. Probiotic yogurts help to improve gut health.


17. Cheese

Whether you’re garnishing your dishes or just adding some flavour, cheese can’t be beat. Keep it fresh in an airtight plastic container to prevent its odour from spreading through the fridge.

18. Frozen products

Frozen vegetables are always good to go. They are pre-cut and ready to be added to the menu. Try them in sautés, sauces, or as a side vegetable. Just take out the amount you want and keep the rest frozen.

Berries, mangoes, pineapple... the choices are endless! Fresh and frozen fruits both have significant nutritional value. They are delicious in smoothies and homemade jams, or in desserts and muffins.

Frozen fish only takes a few minutes to cook. Keep it in its vacuum packaging and thaw it in cold water, or immerse the package directly in boiling water. If your frozen fish is filleted, it can go directly from the freezer into the oven. It will be juicy, tender, and tasty.

Milk or plant-based beverages

19. Milk or plant-based beverages

Milk is very beneficial from a nutritional point of view and blends well in smoothies. It is super refreshing with desserts and essential in breakfast cereals. Plant-based beverages are now available in many stores and can replace milk. In terms of protein content, soy beverages come the closest, but there are other options, such as rice, almond, and cashew beverages.

Onions, garlic, and potatoes

20. Onions, garlic, and potatoes

These vegetables keep for a long time, allowing you to always have some on hand. Onion and garlic add favour to any dish. Caution: contrary to what we may think, onions, garlic, and potatoes keep well in the pantry, i.e. in a dry, dark place.