5 Pantry Essentials for Simple Summer Cooking

5 Pantry Essentials for Simple Summer Cooking

3 min read

With the approaching summer, you might notice your appetite are shifting too. While it can be easy to know what you don’t want (steaming bowls of soup, anyone?), finding what you do requires intention. To prepare for the kind of eating this warmer season invites, it’s time to spring clean your kitchen and stock up on summer pantry essentials. Alice Waters writes in My Pantry, “A well-stocked pantry helps you think creatively about how to feed yourself, and anyone that happens to be with you, a thoughtfully prepared, flavorful and wholesome meal, without expending very much time or effort.”

So you can spend more time outdoors than searching your kitchen for something to eat, we’ve compiled a list of pantry essentials and recipes we think you’ll love. 

5 Pantry Essentials for Simple Summer Cooking


Since greens and vegetables are in full supply, it’s time to spring for a few great bottles and varieties of vinegar. Does your pantry hold a random assortment of store-bought vinegar? You are not alone but Brooklyn chef and author of Acid Trip Michael Harlan Turkell says you’re missing out. He also reminds us, “Good vinegar should include nothing more than the base ingredient, water and time.” Health-wise, well-made vinegar retains most of the grape’s nutrients, including antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties to help fight diseases and strengthen your immune system. Used in salad dressings, sauces and shrubs, many recipes benefit from a touch of acid. White wine, apple cider and balsamic vinegar are great starting places for your summer cooking.

Balsamic Vinegar | shemadeitshemight.com | Photo by Heather Bursch


Since nuts don’t have a long shelf life, they will go rancid, especially in warm weather. Keeping nuts in the refrigerator will extend freshness but so will buying in small amounts from farmers and markets connected to the harvesting and proper storing processes. With nuts in your pantry or fridge at the ready, you’ll have a go-to topping for salads, roasted vegetables, cooked grains or desserts. Furthermore, a jar of pesto adds that summer flavor to meats or pastas, and makes the ultimate dip for crudités.

5 Pantry Essentials for Simple Summer Cooking

Liquid Aminos

If you’ve experimented with eliminating soy, you have likely come across coconut aminos as a 1-to-1 soy sauce replacement. While a bit more sweet and mild in taste than soy, it still has a savory umami flavor without any of the harmful effects. With only two ingredients, organic coconut tree sap and salt, coconut aminos is a must-have for your cleaned up pantry. Try it in these Korean Beef bowls, a Whole30 marinade, this stir-fry sauce or straight up on its own. Michelle Tam from Nom Nom Paleo suggests combining it with fish sauce for the perfect seasoning.



Did you forget about the collagen in your cupboard? There are no excuses now! It’s official smoothie season, and affordable organic berries and fresh greens are available everywhere. Additionally, all you need is liquid and collagen to make a cold and frothy blender meal. Try any our smoothie recipes or this new avocado mint smoothie using collagen sports greens from one or our favorites, Vital Proteins

Photo courtesy of Vital Proteins.


This golden condiment is having a moment right now beyond just a few tablespoons added to your hummus. Almost every plant-based blog or cookbook is publishing a lemon tahini sauce, and for a good reason—it goes with nearly everything. Take a peek at Pinterest and pick one to drizzle on your next Buddha bowlgrain bowl or (for those inclined) meats, which go deliciously well with tahini + lemon sauce too.

For more ways to use these pantry staples, check out our Apple Cider Vinegar Detox or Magical Peach Arugula Salad.

About The Author

Heather Bursch

Heather Bursch

After teaching first graders for seven years, Heather Bursch went from creating reading lessons to designing dinner parties as a personal chef. She credits her three kids with teaching her how to eat well as they've lived and learned together about how good food makes them feel. Heather believes food is for health and pleasure and works to celebrate both the daily greens and seasonal desserts. She writes at shemadeitshemight.com, WELLinsiders.com and you can find her posting @heatherbursch on Instagram about food, life, cooking classes and all things in between.

[wpforms id="5211" title="false" description="false"]