Stocking a Zero Waste Pantry

How to Stock a Zero Waste Pantry

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How to Stock a Zero Waste Pantry

Last revised: 10/19/2020

Keeping an essential list of pantry goods was key to keeping my grocery shopping easy and cheap, my meals simple, and food waste minimized. It’s critical to stock a zero waste pantry.

I keep a pretty minimalist pantry considering that’s the only way it will all fit (my pantry is teeny tiny) and because most meals we have used pretty much the same ingredients.

Most or all of my zero waste pantry items can be purchased in bulk where I live so keep that in mind when I say “Zero Waste” Pantry.

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Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

I found that when I chose elaborate meals calling for proprietary ingredients I ended up with a stuffed pantry with items that I never used that ended up going bad.
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The pantry turned into my closet at the time. hundreds of choices but nothing to wear – or in this case – eat.
That’s another great thing about shopping in the bulk sections because if you do want to try something new, you won’t end up with a giant package and instead just the amount you need – and trust me – we love trying new things!

So, first things first, when I bring my items home from the store, they are in my reusable cloth produce bags.

Related: 5 Steps to Zero Waste Bulk Shopping

Check out my post 5 Steps to Bulk Shopping for a more detailed look at how I shop and if you don’t have bulk check out my article No Bulk, No Problem.

Related: 7 Ways to Reduce Food Packaging Waste Without Access to Bulk

I then transfer them into glass storage jars to keep them fresh. That allows me to visually see what I have and what I need to replace or fill up. Another bonus to zero waste shopping, right?!

Another key component to a zero waste pantry is stocking up on items that have longer shelf lives. This allows me to stock up on a larger amount reducing my need to travel to the store as often.

So what’s in my zero waste pantry?

Pantry Staples List


Grains are the base for many meals in our household. We love stir-fried veggies, Indian food, and a good bowl of pasta. Quinoa is also great for making veggie “meats”.


Baking is such an important part of my life that I gave it its own category on my shopping list. Everything from cupcakes, pancakes, bread, pies, and more come out of my kitchen quite regularly. And of course, baking soda is used in many natural cleaning recipes throughout my house.


Beans are so versatile. They can be used in about any dish – even dessert! I use lentils in a lot of dishes as a meat substitute like chili and pasta sauce.

Natural Sweeteners

Maple syrup is good for more than just pancakes. It can be used as a honey substitute and replace a lot of refined sugar in dishes. Dates are great for binding ingredients together like in pie crusts or energy bites.

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds get used for almond milk, peanuts get turned into peanut butter, cashews are used in a lot of vegan cheese substitutes like Parmesan, and popcorn is just fantastic – right?!

Oils and Vinegar

Olive oil is my go-to cooking oil. I use it when I am sauteing veggies or need to lubricate a pan in place of cooking spray. Coconut oil is used in everything from baking to toiletries. And vinegar is the primary ingredient in my cleaning spray.


This can be more of a guide to you than anything. Just stock up on your favorite spices. I do have to say, though, nutritional yeast is a great Parmesan cheese substitute if you’re looking to cut dairy from your diet.
Related: 5 Spice Mixes You Can Make At Home

Again, very minimalist. But it works more for me and my family. Use this as a guideline, add or subtract items, or just use it as inspiration.

Stocking a Zero Waste Pantry is essential to keeping meals cheap, simple and waste free.

11 thoughts on “Stocking a Zero Waste Pantry

    • Keep in freezer for three days to kill eggs before hatching. I refreeze two three times a year but now have gone to keeping lesser used flours in freezer full time.

  1. Have you ever tried sesame oil? The flavour is heavenly! I get it in a glass bottle and will keep looking for a brand with a metal lid. It really helps to mix things up!

  2. We keep thai curry paste (red, yellow and green), sundried tomatoes, and salsa verde around to liven up the basics. I’d love to see what your regular grocery list looks like too! We plan like you, stock a standard pantry and go from there.

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