Pantry and ingredient essentials

Los Angeles Times Food Editor Russ Parsons (left), in his garden with Carter Calhoun (right) and his fiancee Meghan Garvey (middle) at Parsons' Long Beach home picking ingredients. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times / January 6, 2013)


While most experienced cooks can agree — more or less — on basic equipment, the pantry is much more a matter of individual choice. How you cook will determine what you cook, in this case. If you prefer Italian, you're going to want a greater variety of dried pastas and at least a couple of olive oils. If you cook Japanese, you'll be choosier about rice and different kinds of soy sauce. This is my highly personal list of the things I need in my basic pantry.


All-purpose flour

Granulated sugar

Light brown sugar

Powdered sugar

Baking soda

Baking powder


Spice cabinet

Dried thyme

Dried oregano

Black peppercorns

Vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon


Bay leaves

Dried red pepper flakes