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What Is Your Favorite Pantry Staple?

Real Simple readers share the go-to ingredients and products that help them put something tasty together.

SmoresAaron Dyer 


My go-to pantry staple item is a bottle (or three) of Ravenswood Merlot. This affordable wine is great for adding flavor and depth to stews, chilies, and sauce reductions. Combined with extra-virgin olive oil and a few spices, it makes a great vinaigrette that helps me avoid the grocery store one more night by waking up the boring, eat-them-tonight-or-lose-them vegetables I dragged out of the crisper drawer. And, of course, you can never go wrong with a glass of Ravenswood Merlot before, during, or after dinner.
Mikelle Gaines
Everett, Washington

Vodka. Food can always be delivered.
Lisa Benter Rich
Etobicoke, Ontario

Marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. Never be without s’mores supplies when you have a fire pit in the backyard.
Melinda Wachter
Long Beach, California

Steel-cut oats, which have a slightly nutty flavor and are less processed than their rolled-oat cousins. Every few days, I make some for breakfast and top them with brown sugar and pecans. They’re also delicious with raisins, honey, and, best of all, leftover bananas Foster.
AmberLee Fawson
Roseville, California

One of my best friends introduced me to Boscoli Italian Olive Salad. Packed with chopped marinated green and black olives, vegetables, and capers, this savory mixture is a flavorful topping for anything Italian, like pizza or pasta, and can be whipped into a mayonnaise-free tuna or potato salad.
Elisabeth Ehlers Auld
Alexandria, Virginia

My family just loves trifle, the classic English layered dessert. And since my grandmother has designated me the official trifle maker for all occasions, I make sure to keep a tin of Bird’s Custard in the pantry and a sweet sherry in the wine rack.
Elaine Russell Reolfi
North Canton, Ohio

A jar of blue cheese–stuffed olives for dirty martinis, a cocktail I enjoy on my deck with friends. The olives add a tangy kick to my drink, and some substance, so I don’t get too tipsy.
Nancy Woodruff Premo
North Syracuse, New York

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