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How to Stock a Zero Waste Pantry

Zero Waste Kitchen

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

I have ALWAYS loved grocery shopping, but often find myself overwhelmed with the options. Shopping the bulk bins is no different.

I’m a Libra and I have to say, being forced to make so many decisions is… challenging.

“How much should I get of this?”
“Is it enough?”
“I only have one cloth bag left – do I buy chocolate covered almonds or something sensible?”
“Does it matter what color lentil I’m buying – why are there so many colors!?” 

A lot of questions run through my mind. So, I came up with a framework to keep things running smoothly and most of the questions/decision making at bay. 

How to stock a zero waste pantry from

I go shopping for pantry staples once a month.

I typically run out of 8-10 items and it costs $50-$60 to restock. Since I don’t shop that often, I have larger jars.

My smallest jar for storing pantry staples is 32oz. I keep garnishes in smaller jars like nuts and seeds.

In my PZW days our pantry was stuffed!

I’d pick up all sorts of interesting things at the grocery store and so much of it would go uneaten.  

It was hidden in boxes and bags, and we’d forget it was there. Having clear jars help us know exactly how much food we have to eat. I’ve really streamlined and minimized our pantry.

Justin is very picky – so it helps! There’s less decision fatigue and it makes it easy to stick with our favorite meals.

Table of Contents


  • Brown Rice
  • Quinoa

We keep the grains really simple. I really like quinoa for that extra protein punch.

Justin isn’t a fan. I like to make veggie bowls with quinoa and use it with lentils for taco meat filling. We like to make rice for tacos and kimchi/veggie fried rice. 


  • Elbows
  • Tortellini
  • Lasagna
  • Spaghetti

We’re pretty big pasta fans. We love mac and cheese with peas in the spring.

Tortellini is the perfect quick dinner. I like it tossed in olive oil with asparagus and a poached egg, or I make a killer mushroom bolognese to go with it.

I’ve been making homemade ricotta and notta-ricotta, so I bought some lasagna noodles. Yum!


  • Black Beans
  • Lentils
  • Pinto Beans
  • Chickpeas

Justin LOVES re-fried beans. We keep pintos stocked.

I like black bean and sweet potato tacos. I also like hummus as a snack, and it’s a great appetizer for parties.


  • Whole White Wheat Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour
  • Sucanat (brown sugar substitute)
  • Coconut Sugar (white sugar substitute)
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Shreds
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cornmeal
  • Oats

I try to avoid processed white flour and sugar in our diets. 

I love baking, and I can make so many things from scratch. Once you get in the hang of making your staples, you can whip them up very quickly. 

Cornbread, energy bites, brownies, cookies, bread, hamburger buns, overnight oats, and the list goes on.


  • Raisins
  • Dried Mango
  • Beef Jerky
  • Granola
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Cheddar Whales

We try to keep lots of healthy snacks around. I love making stove top popcorn.

I like to use the dried fruit for crafting delicious breakfasts. I keep nuts around for snacks and making nut milk and dairy free cheeses. 

Read more about my favorite snacks and their recipes here.


  • Honey
  • Tamari
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Vinegar
  • Sesame Oil
  • Fish Sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

I like roasting veggies with good olive oil and a nice balsamic vinegar. We make quite a bit of asian food, and it’s nice to have a couple of key sauces.

The local raw honey is perfect for allergy season and a natural sweetener. Mmmm. I’m dreaming of a nice cup of hot tea right now. 

With just a few ingredients in each category, we’re able to make all of our favorite meals and get dinner on the table super quick.

What are some of your favorite pantry staples and favorite dinners? 

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  1. Looks very very similar to mine! I will sometimes buy new grains in smaller just to give them a try. But our staples are Basmati rice, (which is always discounted at my co-op because i’m a member), Orzo, Israeli couscous, and Quinoa.

    My boyfriend will also make mini bowls of trail mix from our pantry every day to work.

    Do you mind sharing your mushroom bolognese recipe? That sounds incredible.

  2. I also use those kind of jars 🙂 but I read the article hoping to see some solution to avoid coming back home with dozens of plastic bags on which each of the items come stored. Do you have something for this?

    1. Check out the post, "The Ultimate Guide to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping." I bring cloth bags and/or the jars to the store. I don’t have any plastic/trash/recycling from when I go shopping. It’s all with reusables.

  3. Thanks for the great post! I love your staples! It may be somewhere on your blog already, so I’m sorry for not searching, but I’m wondering how exactly to purchase in bulk without wasting money?? I like the idea of bulk to be able to know exactly how much of everything I am getting, and for lowering packaging waste! …BUT I obviously don’t want to use the bags the stores provide, and bringing my jars seems like I will waste so much money at checkout when they weigh everything. Suggestions? Thank you!

      1. Kathryn – Thank you so much. You have changed my life! I posted the question above 8 months ago, obviously as you can see. I was a total newbie for using anything other than reusable produce bags. Now, the bulk section is no longer intimidating to me! I bring my jars and bags, no problem. I bring my own straws, utensils, and containers with me throughout the day. I’ve learned that the worst thing that will happen is that someone says no. You have been such an inspiration and make things so easy! Thank you 🙂