In a few of the cookbooks I own there are sections that go over a list of "must-haves" for a well stocked pantry. I acknowledge this question is subjective, but I do think that there are a half-dozen to a dozen things out there that are universally essential. I also checked for other similar questions and the two I found were both open and received lots of community input.
Specifically I'm looking for things with the following properties:
- Long shelf life
- Great substitutability for other ingredients
- May work in both savory or sweet dishes (not required)
- Not salt or pepper
- Not olive or vegetable oil
I rule out those last items because they are obvious.
Ground rules. Be specific to a single "category" of ingredients. e.g. dry goods, spices, condiments, nuts