Twenty for Twenty Article -
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Twenty for Twenty

Don't like repeated trips to the grocery store? Stock up on these 20 ingredients, and you can make 20 delicious dinners.

The Ingredients

To make the 20 recipes below, stock up on these 20 ingredients (and be sure your pantry includes the essential ingredients listed on the right).

1.  Jarred spaghetti sauce
2.  Milk
3.  Cheddar cheese
4.  White wine
5.  Lemons
6.  Dry bread crumbs
7.  Canned tomatoes
8.  Eggs
9.  Parmesan Cheese
10.  Sour cream
11.  Mozzarella cheese
12.  Boneless chicken breasts
13.  Bacon
14.  Ground beef
15.  Assorted Pasta
16.  Potatoes
17.  Frozen Broccoli
18.  Cream of chicken soup
19.  Cream of mushroom soup
20.  Frozen spinach

    Allrecipes Community Tips

    I think the 20/20 idea is great!
    I would add cream cheese to the list. I just had family in town, ate in every meal and almost went through six blocks of cream cheese!
    I use it:

    • to add flavor and thicken cream sauces or my shrimp corn chowder soup;
    • to mix with dried herbs and garlic, then spread on unrolled crescent dough rolled up and baked to make pinwheels (great for breakfast, brunch, or snack);
    • mixed with ground sausage, enchilada seasoning packet, and rotel for a great dip with tostado chips (great crowd pleaser);
    • with ground Italian sausage and garlic, onion, peppers, etc. for stuffed mushrooms;
    • for cheesecake; and
    • of course on a good bagel!

    --Kerbi from Fort Worth, TX

      You must have Goya Adobo spice in your cupboard. My best friend's Cuban father introduced me to it years ago and I have never looked back. This spice is great on all meats, vegetables, and potatoes. It's salt, pepper and spices...once you have tried it, you will never cook a meal without a shake or too.
      Buy it.
      "The Netherlands"

      Jul. 26, 2009 7:09 pm
      Yes, Cubans are the best for taste and spice!!lol Sofrito is also great...onion, peppers and spices to spice up your soups, meats and poultry...yum
      Sep. 8, 2009 4:15 pm
      Lets make another one of these lists..this one was very slanted italian How bout one using staples like rice, lime, cilantro, tortilla shells where you can take the recipes either mexican or oriental directions. I love to make asian lettuce wraps on the cheap from chicken or ground beef, thai noodles with whatever veggies are on hand, quesadillas, mexican lasagna, red beans and rice etc and we live off of just a teacher salary as my hubby is a missionary. My cabinets are never without those three plus peanut butter, soy, ginger,...
      Oct. 26, 2009 6:31 am
      I wish I could try it but I am trying to avoid MSG, said to be very bad for your health.
      Melanie B. 
      Nov. 5, 2009 6:00 am
      How about a vegetarin 20/20? My husband and I live off his Social Security and these days it doesn't go that far. I also use no processed foods or salt for health reasons. Anyone got any ideas?
      Dec. 28, 2009 5:40 am
      wow, i've allways had these staples on hand.i never knewv they were all so neccesary to everyone
      Feb. 6, 2010 10:10 pm
      When I get wine to cook with I always get the small twist top bottle 6 packs so I can just open the amount I need.
      Jun. 2, 2010 7:19 pm
      every one of the staples is great. all you have to do is check and read the labels to see if there's msg in the product. it's easy and saves your body from the stress of the poisons found in some of the shelf products. low sodium goya adobo doesn't have msg and it's fantastic for grilled meats. just remember to always check the sodium's usually overlooked by people...
      Jun. 2, 2010 10:33 pm
      Lipton (or any brand) Onion Soup Mix. Great for making a dip, using sour cream; or a rice casserole!
      Jun. 3, 2010 2:49 am
      I use to add Goya Adobo to everything I cooked. I loved it, but I stopped using it, since it does have MSG in it. Sorry!
      Jun. 3, 2010 4:26 am
      I'd add dried rosemary, tomato paste, and orange juice to the list. Mix those three items with some white wine and canned tomatoes and you've got the a fabulous sauce for chicken, shrimp, or just for mixing with rice or pasta.
      Jun. 3, 2010 8:39 am
      I have red (sweet) and white (dry) vermouth on hand for cooking wines if I don't have left over wine. Keeps indefinately works well. Forget cooking sherry of days gone by just cheap salty wine. Also, have dry powdered butter milk in frig in case I need it and don't wan to run to the store. Raised in the "country" by a depression era mom. Could live for six mos. off of freezer and pantry with a few fresh foods now and then.
      Jun. 3, 2010 9:05 am
      I also keep salt-free Italian seasoning on hand. It's great when added to ground beef, pork, or chicken.
      Jun. 3, 2010 10:17 am
      The Dutch have Goya Adobo! I live in East Texas and can't find it anywhere! Have asked stores to carry it but no dice. The Dutch.......!!!!
      Jun. 3, 2010 1:31 pm
      Why not put this list in a format that we can print out and take to the market with us, it would be very helpful. The perfect pantry list and the 20 bare essentials would be good to put in a tablet form and set on the site also
      Jun. 3, 2010 3:44 pm
      I too would like these wonderful lists made to print out. Can you do this please?
      Jun. 3, 2010 7:38 pm
      Highlight the list, copy it (Control +C) and paste (Control +V) into a Word document file.
      Jun. 3, 2010 7:40 pm
      I highlighted the list, copied it (Control +C) and pasted (Control +V) into a Word file.
      Jun. 3, 2010 7:48 pm
      Highlight the list, copy it (Control +C) and paste (Control +V) into a Word document file.
      Jun. 5, 2010 9:53 am
      you can also use Notepad to print out, as above highlight, copy in "View" at the top of the computer screen, paste into Notepad. No frills document.
      Jun. 6, 2010 5:16 pm
      I've been using Goya Adobo All Purpose Seasoning for over 30 years. I am sitting here with the container in front of me. The ingredients are Salt, Granulated Garlic, Tricalcium Phosphate to prevent caking, Oregano, Black Pepper and Turmeric. No MSG! Wheee. Thanks for the list and recipe ideas. I've saved it because I just get tired of trying to think of something new for dinner. This way someone else has done the thinking for me. Therfe are times when you really appreciatge the assistance ;)
      Just me 47 
      Jun. 8, 2010 12:17 pm
      I made a grocery list spreadsheet listing everything I use in the kitchen(including certain brand names) I itemized by Meat, Dairy, Spices, Canned Goods, Frozen Foods, Non-food, etc. Works for me. I hang a sheet on the fridge, check off as I run out of stuff and am in and out of the store in a whiz. It was worth the time it took to make the spreadsheet.
      Jun. 15, 2010 5:44 am
      What is everyone eating for lunch? I eat a lot everyday. One meal is not enough for me. Also, I need to get fresh veggies more often, so i go to the store often. I looked at some of the recipes and I am anxious to try them. I wish there was a save feature so I could find them quickly.
      Jun. 15, 2010 5:57 am
      Oh, my mistake, what do I have in the pantry... A must have is Chicken broth. I also do not use canned soups instead I make the sauces with flour or cornstarch.
      Jun. 17, 2010 7:25 am
      Some of my family's essentials include chili powder, dry ranch dressing mix, and yeast. Our bi-monthly shopping list also includes a huge box of Goldfish Snacks but only my grandson thinks that they are essential to existence!
      Jul. 31, 2010 4:40 am
      Homemade or store bought low sodium chicken broth/stock, sweet and dry vermouth (in place of trying to keep wine) are great pantry items for depth of flavor in cooking. I also keep lots of dry spices to include salt free spice blends from Penzeys or Alden Mill House in Alden, MI. Canned or frozen varieties of tomatoes, tomato paste, pasta and canned and dry beans. From there you can make anything.
      Brookie Poo 
      Aug. 17, 2010 8:59 am
      This is great! I am newlywed and trying to learn how to cook. This will give me a great start and hubby will be happy that we aren't having tacos every night! Thank you :)
      Oct. 6, 2010 9:49 am
      I always have brown rice (keep in refrig), canned tuna/salmon, canned chicken, canned mushrooms, cottage cheese (quick protein for salads, on potatoes or fruit or scram eggs), honey, and PB.
      Oct. 6, 2010 10:17 am
      Rice! I keep at least two types of rice in the cupboard, usually jasmine and regular long grain. Also agree with another comment about chicken broth - with these two items you can create a meal out of next to nothing.
      Oct. 6, 2010 10:17 am
      Question--- was onions supposed to be on the list of 20? Maybe it chould be put in the list and the creamed soups used as one item with the ability to substitute.
      Oct. 6, 2010 10:19 am
      to copy the list, right-clicking works as well (or easier) as Control + C.
      Oct. 7, 2010 9:09 pm
      Fresh Nutmeg, (with fine grater,) I find essential and keeps well.
      Oct. 9, 2010 9:34 pm
      Made life easier for me, thanks Louisa
      Nov. 15, 2010 11:16 am
      can we please have a gluten free twenty for twenty????
      Nov. 19, 2010 6:29 pm
      jkt For Gluten Free : Use rice instead of pasta. Don't add bread crumbs for the ground beef patties.
      Nov. 20, 2010 6:59 pm
      Dried beans of all kinds. Also ham base when you don't have meat to add to the pot.
      Feb. 2, 2011 11:14 am
      Eliminate the canned soups and make your own creamy base with the other staples.
      Feb. 3, 2011 12:07 am
      chicken and beef bouillon are a must in my cupboard. I make all my own soups, broths and sauces plus the chicken bouillon seasons my frozen veggies perfectly without any oil or fat in a pinch. Simply fantastic!
      Feb. 3, 2011 12:11 am
      P.S. Most of these ingredients are for pretty rich dishes. I wouldn't recommend it for someone in their thirties, but then again, good health and good eating starts early. You can eat great and healthy at the same time ;-)
      Feb. 9, 2011 8:03 pm
      Funny stumbling upon this. I just stood in the grocery store today looking at Goya Adobo and wondering what it was. This must be a sign--I'll be picking it up next shopping trip!
      May 5, 2011 9:05 am
      I ALWAYS keep chopped/minced garlic in the fridge (Always keep a clove too) while I don't mind chopping up the cloves of garlic - I prefer the real garlic over powdered garlic and as I'm cooking I'll just think... this needs garlic and throw in the pre-chopped stuff from the fridge real quick. Saves time and effort on quickie meals.
      May 21, 2011 7:13 pm
      I like to always have fresh carrots, celery, zucchini and onions on hand. These can be grated, sliced or chopped and added to a lot of recipes for added flavor. With any soup stock base and noodles you can make a hearty vegetable soup.
      May 24, 2011 5:24 pm
      we love all the Mrs Dash seasonings.also Old Bay and a jar of minced garlic in the fridge. we're retired Navy and hit the commissary once a month so i need to stay stocked. everything on the list is in my pantry Thanks
      Oct. 5, 2011 4:17 pm
      The garlic chicken recipe was a little bland. This recipe is a much better alternative, and still pretty much keeps to the same list of ingredients:

All in all, though, this list has been super helpful. Several of the meals will be getting encores.
      Dec. 17, 2011 5:11 pm
      This is so nice! I haven't been able to use them yet, but I'm glad there is a place where I can find easy recipes!
      Mar. 21, 2012 2:49 am
      I would definitely add chicken and beef bouillion. My go-to side dish staples are usually rice or pasta cooked in chicken or beef broth, with veggies added in (I usually do spinach and mushrooms). Just make twice the amount of broth as pasta, and there's no draining or anything! Couldn't be easier.
      Mar. 21, 2012 5:30 am
      I freeze many condiments - ginger grates/chops well from frozen, I freeze wine - not to drink, but if you freeze the leftovers from a bottle (assuming you have any) it will keep and suffice in a pinch. I also freeze chilis in adobo and tomato paste = both are used in such small quantities that they go bad, but frozen and then scraped with a fork to get what you need they last for AGES.
      Mar. 21, 2012 5:34 am
      Some good items on this list. For myself, though, (I live alone), I would eliminate some items (matter of personal preference), make substitutions for (healthier choices), and add others (such as olive oil, salsa, canned and dry beans, and unsalted broths and stocks). Let's see. Jarred pasta sauce? Yep! That's a good one. Just get the lowest sodium one you can find. Milk? Sure, as long as it's either fat-free or no more than 1%. Cheddar cheese is OK, if you're not concerned about your fat and cholesterol intakes. I am. Same goes for eggs. Eggs are touted as a good source of protein, but they're an even BETTER source of cholesterol, unless you use just the whites. Read the nutrition label on the carton. I usually avoid them, except in baking. White wine? Yeah, OK, that's a good one. But, since I'm not a cook, I prefer to drink mine. Lemons, dry bread crumbs, canned tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese? Those are always good to have. But get the pre-grated Parmesan in a can, and check the sodiu
      Mar. 21, 2012 7:51 am
      I agree with with I'mabakernotacook. Although I love frozen spinach (I buy fresh baby spinach in large packs, use half fresh and then freeze the rest).
      Mar. 21, 2012 9:36 am
      Could a 20/20 list be developed with chicken quarters? We tend to buy them more often than chicken breasts.
      Mar. 21, 2012 10:37 am
      Can I just say I probably got 20 new ideas off everyone's comments? Love it! Especially the spreadsheet--I can easily see how it would be worth the trouble. Thanks everyone!
      Margot Wedel 
      Mar. 21, 2012 10:42 am
      I would add yeast, seasoned salt, brown rice, walnuts, pecans, brown sugar.

      Mar. 21, 2012 11:47 am
      I enjoyed all the coments. Not much on coments my self. I love to cook and do not watch what me and my mon who is 101 years old eat. Must do something right
      Mar. 21, 2012 12:17 pm
      Was the list ever put into something i.e., to take to the grocery store. When I tried to copy it I got all the comments, etc. and there are 8 pgs.
      Mar. 21, 2012 6:03 pm
      Let's see,I have so much in my food storage area that I don't know what I have.We do use a lot of garlic and onion powder and fresh onions all the time but hubby and I eat so differently that I have to keep all kinds of food items around both fresh,frozen and canned so we lack for nothing when it comes to food.Today we went to Wal Mart and loaded up again for the third time this month and we are a family of only two but I bought some extra large shrimps and we both will enjoy those.He is a heavy meat eater so he keeps lots of various meats in the freezer.I cooked a large beef pot roast last weekend in the crock pot and we are still working on that piece of meat.I love to cook most days so read and collect lots of recipes.My pantrys are loaded and hope everyone out there can say about the same!
      Mar. 21, 2012 6:36 pm
      I think this was genius!. With these ingredients there should never be a moment of "we have nothing to make fore dinner".
      Mar. 22, 2012 8:56 am
      Love the 20/20 list. It is great for my boys who are getting started living on their own. A 20/20 that had a hamburger focus would be great too.
      Mar. 29, 2012 7:05 pm
      Thanks for the list. Have one posted on my kitchen wall. I have found out just how versatile and convenient adobo seasoning has been. Has eliminated the need to use seasoning salt. Also what I miss in my kitchen is sesame seed oil. When I had it, I used it like crazy! That should be included in a top 20-25 list.
      Apr. 19, 2012 1:55 am
      Don't think of nutmeg as just an eggnog topper. It enhances all kinds of baked goods as well as savory foods like creamed spinach, artichoke dip, and many meat dishes. If you do any baking at all, have cinnamon on hand at all times. Remember, spices are a great way of adding flavor to dishes when you are cutting back on salt; chances are you will not miss it. If you like to make Middle Eastern food you are going to want tehina, a sesame sauce used in humus, squeezed into pitas with falafel, and used in salads. If you want to make Japanese, have rice wine vinegar on hand.
      Mar. 1, 2013 10:46 pm
      Low sodium beef and low sodium chicken broths are ALWAYS in my pantry. Frozen plain veggies (broccoli, spinach, etc.). Ground chicken and ground turkey breast. Frozen wild shrimp.
      Jun. 20, 2014 11:21 am
      I often have canned biscuits the small ones that come in a 4pk the store brand to keep it cheap. There are a lot of things you can make with them like dumplings, pot pies, meat and fruit turnovers, flattened for individual pizzas. Its handy for when you need a quick dish. Lately a loaf of french bread has been a staple for us. Our family loves it with everything, makes great sandwiches for lunch it doesn't get soggy from mayo like regular bread even if you make the sandwiches the night before or you can cut it in half horizontal and put pizza toppings on it.
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