Whether you are an extravagant entertainer or a bit more “low key,” I think we can all agree that party planning should be as stress-free as possible, right?
And while it’s certainly gratifying to roll out a wow-worthy spread of snacks and nibbles, you don’t need to slave in the kitchen for days in advance to do so. With a well-stocked pantry (and fridge and freezer!), you can be “party-ready” any time!
The following are items that you will almost always find in my kitchen. Some are ready-to-serve and others serve as the “base” for any number of easy-to-make snacks! I’ve linked each to a recipe to get you started, but use your imagination and have some fun!
Make Your Pantry "Party-Ready"! 1 of 14
Whether you're entertaining a crowd - or you find yourself at 5:00pm with a few unexpected guests - you'll be at the ready with these pantry staples!
Chick Peas 2 of 14
If there were ever a staple in my kitchen, chick peas are IT - simply rinse and drain and you are ready to go!
The obvious choice is hummus but my favorite way to use chick peas is roasting! A toss in some oil and your favorite spices and you've got a crunchy, addictive snack right out of your pantry!
Read how to make Roasted Chick Peas at Babble
Sun-Dried Tomatoes 3 of 14
I adore sun-dried tomatoes - the sweet-salty flavor and chewy texture complement so many dishes. You can buy the dehydrated variety but I prefer the ready-to-go marinated tomatoes that come in a jar. This tapenade is easy, perfect party fare!
Read how to make Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade at Babble
Roasted Red Peppers 4 of 14
Roasted peppers are ready to use right out of the jar. I always have some on-hand; they are the perfect base for any number of dips, crostinis, or this riff on basic hummus!
Read how to make Double Roasted Red Pepper Hummus at Babble
Olives 5 of 14
Olives should be in everyone's pantry - and while you could certainly buy them already marinated, it's so easy to make your own. Choose your favorite mix of olives, and toss with some garlic and fresh herbs.
Read how to make Marinated Olives at Babble
Canned Tuna 6 of 14
I was buying water-packed tuna for years before I discovered tuna canned in oil. And there is simply no comparison to the depth of flavor you get from the oil-packed variety. Keep at least a few cans of this in your pantry for an easy appetizer - like this tuna crostini. (Bonus points here, as it also uses roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes AND olives!)
Read how to make Tuna Crostini at Babble
Nuts 7 of 14
While you could certainly just put out a bowl of nuts at your next party, why not spice them up (literally)? Take your favorite nut, some sweet or savory spices, and roast in the oven. Spiced nuts store beautifully, making these a perfect do-ahead snack!
Find these candied almonds and other spiced nut recipes at Babble
Puff Pastry 8 of 14
Talk about a multi-tasker! A box of puff pastry in your freezer means you are at the ready for dozens of tasty party snacks. From cheese straws to mini pizzas and these spinach pinwheels, puff pastry proves its versatility in my kitchen time and time again!
Find these spinach pinwheels and other puff pastry appetizers at Babble
Dried or Cured Meats 9 of 14
Think salami, pepperoni, soppressata. These salty meats are ready to use and high on flavor - even a little bit will punch up any snack or nibble.
Read how to make Pepperoni Pizza Poppers at Babble
White Beans 10 of 14
The mild taste and creamy texture of white beans make them a must-have in your hors d'oeuvre pantry. Whether you use them whole, mashed, or pureed — like in this lemony spinach dip — be sure to have a can or two on hand!
Read how to make Lemon-Spinach White Bean Dip at Babble
Crackers, Chips, Flatbreads 11 of 14
No well-stocked pantry would be complete without a decent assortment of chips, crackers, and flatbreads. Go for a variety of shapes, textures, colors, and flavors, to add crunch and color to your party spread - and seriously, how else are you going to get this delicious artichoke dip to your mouth?
Read how to make Artichoke Dip at Babble
Phyllo Dough 12 of 14
Much like puff pastry, a package of frozen phyllo dough will take you far. From spanakopitas to savory "bundles," your guests will love anything wrapped in these crisp, flaky layers!
Read how to make Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus Spears at Babble
A Wedge of Parmesan 13 of 14
Cheese makes everything better, right? Keep a wedge of parmesan in-stock to crumble with some prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips for garnishing a crostini. Or grate it into circles on a baking sheet and make these irresistible tuiles!
Read how to make Parmesan Tuiles at Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
Lemons and Limes 14 of 14
Once you start keeping a bowl of lemons and limes on your kitchen counter you will be reaching for them on a regular basis. Slice a few into a pretty pitcher of water. Garnish a dip or crostini with a little grated zest. Squeeze a wedge into a sparkling beverage. You get the idea!