Stocking your kitchen for the holidays

Who's getting ready for some serious baking over the next two weeks? Me! You? I've started on my annual cookie baking as well as a few candies. Can't forget the sweet and yeast breads! Oh dear, I feel 20 pounds coming back on! Once again, I'm fortunate to be able to share a wonderful article with you on stocking your kitchen up for the holidays. Thank you to Amber Brubaker for sharing!

Key Ingredients for the Holidays

Just because Thanksgiving was last month doesn’t mean there won’t be any more baking days this year. The holidays are filled with the best foods to share with friends and family. You don’t want to be found without an essential ingredient in your kitchen when you need to make an impromptu side dish or dessert for a party or gathering. The secret is to stock up now on essential holiday ingredients.

Lucky for you, most of the essential items go on sale during the weeks following Thanksgiving, so you can rest assured that you are stocking up at the best prices. Use this comprehensive guide to help you complete your shopping list and store the ingredients properly.


You’ll want a selection of candies for both baking and serving. Chopped up candies are great in treats, and when friends come calling, you can offer them a candied treat from a pretty dish on your coffee table.


Butter is one of the most expensive baking essentials. Luckily, it stays good for awhile, especially if you freeze it. So when it’s on sale, stock up, freeze it, and simply thaw it when you need it. For your holiday preparations, you’ll want both salted and unsalted butter—salted for spreading and cooking and unsalted for baking.

Margarine and Shortening

Similar to butter, these can be frozen too. Certain recipes specifically call for margarine or shortening and you can’t use butter as a substitute. For example, using butter instead of shortening may ruin your pie crust.


If you see a great deal on meats—particularly ham and turkey—snatch up as much as you can. These meats have plenty of natural salt in them and will last in your freezer for up to six months if put in good quality, freezer-safe bags. You’ll have plenty of protein for the holidays and after.


You’ll need brown and white—and plenty of it—for baking, and confectioners sugar for frosting and sprinkling. Store all sugar in waterproof, airtight containers.

Store-Bought Crackers and Cookies

It’s always a good idea to have these on hand for a last-minute addition to a party. Cookies also make easy pie crusts or dessert toppings when crumbled.


Flour is a must, and you’ll want different kinds, including, whole wheat, all-purpose white, and cake flour. There’s also white wheat flour, which offers all the health benefits of wheat flour with a lighter, fluffier taste. Store your bulk flour in waterproof, airtight containers to avoid contamination.

Powdered Milk

Fresh milk is difficult to buy in bulk, since it quickly expires. To work around this, get a supply of powdered milk which you can mix up for baking or cooking at a moment’s notice when you’re out of milk.

Leavening Agents

Leaveners like baking soda, baking powder, and yeast, will last for years, but it’s still good to change them out every now and then. The holiday season is a perfect time to do just that. Store your fresh baking soda and powder in airtight containers in the cupboard, and store yeast in the fridge or freezer.

Extracts and Flavorings

If you’re going to bake anything at all, you will need a good supply of vanilla, but it’s also a good idea to stock up on other flavorings, especially if you love trying new recipes or want to make candies. For the holidays, don’t forget almond, peppermint, lemon, anise, rum, and any other flavorings you love.

Heavy Cream

You can store heavy cream in the freezer for up to two months, which is perfect for the holidays. Get as much as you can when it goes on sale, and then thaw it for all your whipped cream and topping needs.

Liquid Sweeteners

Molasses, light and dark corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and maple syrup are must-haves for any candy making you’ll do during the holidays. You’ll want to have agave nectar and liquid stevia on hand as well in case you’re baking for those with specific food needs.

Canned Goods

Canned goods are fabulous because they last. Stock up on corn, green beans, pumpkin, pie fillings, yams, beets, evaporated milk, and all the other delicious canned foods you love at holiday meals. Stack these carefully on your shelf to avoid injury.

Dried Fruit and Nuts

Dried fruits and nuts make great add-ins for cookies, candies, and pies, and they’re fantastic for snacking. Stock up on dried apricots, dates, raisins, cranberries, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, and anything else you like.

Spices and Herbs

Contrary to popular belief, spices and herbs don’t last forever. In fact, they begin to lose their potency six months after opening. Use the holiday shopping as an excuse to replace some spices. If nothing else, you’ll want to replace cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, sage, rosemary, thyme, and your other favorite spices. Try using these classic spices to make something new. For example, did you know you can use cloves in a glaze for your meat? Click here for other ideas.   

Chocolate and Chips

A solid collection of chocolates and chips to add to your cookies and desserts will get you through the holidays. You’ll want unsweetened bakers chocolate, cocoa powder, and high-quality dipping chocolate. You’ll also want every kind of chip imaginable for the best cookies. Store these in cute cannisters along your kitchen counter to keep them fresh.

With these ingredients filling your kitchen, you won’t have any problems making the best holiday foods!