There is a base list of items you must have to elevate your food. When fresh is not in season, or just too expensive ($5.00 for cauliflower..really?) Usually called the pantry. The word "pantry" refers to an area where your store things for your kitchen. The term pantry comes from the French word "paneterie" or "pain" (English translation is bread.) From Medieval times when the day's bread was stored for later use. Today, the pantry is where we keep spices, canned goods, dry good, and anything else we buy in bulk and usually on sale. These can be custom built into your kitchen, or a spare closet. Some homes have a cold room in the basement, and lots of storage. The pantry is functional and always being replenished. Unlike and emergency storage area, the pantry can also be a great place to stare and wonder what's for dinner.
The basic Pantry, in my opinion, needs these items:
SPICES Salt Pepper Garlic Powder Onion Powder and Flakes Cumin
CANNED GOODS Stocks Tomatoes Mushrooms Condensed Soups Tomato Paste
Sugar Brown Flour Baking Powder Baking Soda
As you can see this is not a lot, but a great base for creating tasting meals. As for stocking your pantry, always keep an eye out for sales. Sometimes canned tomatoes go on sale for under a dollar each, buy lots. Sugar goes on sale, salt, almost everything for the basic pantry is on sale somewhere.
If you buy dry goods in bulk or spices, it is a good idea to invest in good storage containers. They must have a tight seal, be "animal proof", and as always get out the permanent marker or put a waterproof label on them. If you do not want to write on the container, use a strip of packing tape and write on it with the marker.